Kallicharran wants to help Guyana's cricket

By Sean Devers
Stabroek News
July 4, 1999

Former Guyana and West Indies cricketer Alvin Isaac Kallicharran, says it is possible that he may return to his native land to coach.

However, the still dapper 50 year-old, home on holiday says he has been offered a five-year contract to coach the Kenya national team after working with that side in the World Cup.

Kallicharran, from Port Mourant, Berbice disclosed that most of the former great West Indian players work overseas because of job security. "I would love to work with the youths in Port Mourant Guyana but that would depend on if I could make a proper living from coaching here". He added that he was scheduled to talk with the government of Guyana and Guysuco to work out the possibilities or returning here to coach.

Callers on a recent `Talk Caribbean' television program aired by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) suggested Kallicharran be appointed West Indies coach. When asked if he would take up the job if asked to do so by the WICB, Kallicharran said that he would have to consider many things before making a decision, but added that anything was possible.

Kallicharran is remembered for his brutal assault on Denis Lillee in a savage 78 in the 1975 World Cup, hit 12th Test centuries, five at the regional level and took an early exit from international cricket to play in South Africa.

With 4,399 Test runs to his name at an average of 44.43, the little left hander who captained the West Indies in nine Tests, was often described as the most complete batsmen in his time. His expert use of his feet to spin bowling was a gem to watch.

Kalli feels that the young West Indian batsmen today are not very comfortable against spin because they are not positive enough and use their pads too much. "I read the spinners from their hand and tried to get down the track to get as close to where the ball is pitched as possible".

Kallicharran joined the selected few by scoring centuries in his first two test innings. His debut ton against New Zealand in 1972 at Bourda was followed up by another century in the first innings of the next test in Trinidad.

Kallicharran says that he does not agree fully with the present policy to use different teams for Test and one day matches. "When I played for the West Indies in the 1970's the same players played in both styles of the game. If a player is good enough he should be able to adapt to both Test and one-dayers and do well. While Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and the others were crashing the ball across the park in one-day cricket I would keep the scoreboard ticking by finding the gaps and at the end of the day I also got runs without belting sixes," Kalli explained.

He said it was very important for the young batsmen to keep rotating the strike in one-day games and put away the bad balls. The Berbician feels there is still talent in the West Indies but observed that many players now lack the killer instinct, discipline, patriotism and the commitment needed at the highest level.

"When the West Indies were winning it was because we played for each other, we were proud of that maroon cap and we had a respected leader in Clive Lloyd. The fans meant a lot to us, especially in England. Winning and seeing the joy on the faces of West Indian people motivated us to be great ambassadors for West Indies cricket".

Kallicharran says that it was unfair to blame Brian Lara for everything that goes wrong in the West Indies team now. "If you drop Lara as captain who would you put," he asked. "If the selectors keep recycling failures then it shows something is really wrong with our cricket. In my days you had so many players knocking at the door, and they just couldn't get in" he added.

An excellent table tennis player in his younger days, Kalli said at one time he had to choose between tennis and cricket. "In Berbice youths played many sports because there was not much else to do". Kalli said.

"I grew up in a very poor family and cricket was my hope of achieving something in life. It was due to cricket that I got into secondary school. In those days you had to pay a school fee because my elder brother was already attending school, my parents could not afford to send me. There was a school match between teachers and students and there was one player short and I was asked to play. I scored a 50 for the teachers and one asked me why I was not attending school. That teacher then arranged for me to go to school," Kallicharran disclosed.

"My success did not come from luck, but hard work and determination. I think the standard of cricket was far higher when I played. Batsmen had very little protection and Jeff Thompson was the fastest bowler to play Test cricket even though in those days you did not have the technology to record the speed of the bowler like you can do today"

Kallicharran added that in the 1970's and 1980's each team had at least six or seven outstanding top class players, while he feels today too many sides depend on too few players.

Some commentators have compared Shivnarine Chanderpaul to Kallicharan, but Kalli says he cannot compare players from different eras because they faced different bowlers and batted on different pitches. He however said Chanderpaul is a very good player whose main asset is his ability to play within his limitations.

Kallicharran was not without controversy and he remembers batting in Trinidad against England when he was given out by umpire Douglas Sang-Hue off the last ball of the day only be reinstated the next day. "I played the last ball of the day to Tony Greig and started walking to the pavilion thinking the ball was dead. Greig hit the stumps and I was given out for 142. The crowd protested the decision and I was allowed to continue the next day. It was not the same feeling after being put into bat again and I only added 16 more runs."

When the Kerry Packer players were unavailable, Kallicharran, who also signed a contract with Packer before canceling it, captained a young side to India and did quite well. However, when the WICBC made peace with the Packer players in time for the 1979 World Cup Lloyd was reinstated as captain.

In 1983 Kallicharran was instrumental in getting West Indians to sign up for the rebel tour of South Africa and was banned from international cricket by the WICBC.

Kallicharran pointed out that he played and coached a lot in the black townships in South Africa and helped in the development of many blacks and Indians who lived there.

Kallicharran says all is not lost for West Indies cricket. "Hard decisions have to be made at all levels and the young players must be made to understand the importance of playing for the West Indies and wearing that maroon cap".

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples