Sanford snares Sachin’s scalp By Ezra Stuart
Guyana Chronicle
April 23, 2002

Related Links: Articles on West Indies Cricket
Letters Menu Archival Menu

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - Bowlers talk about dismissing Sachin Tendulkar in the same breadth an athlete speaks of earning a medal at the Olympic Games and a footballer about scoring a goal in the World Cup finals.

In modern-day cricket, snaring Sachin’s scalp, like Brian Lara’s, is a moment to cherish and celebrate for any bowler.

After all, a mere two days ago, Tendulkar’s name was being written on the same page as the legendary Australian master batsman Sir Donald Bradman after he emulated his feat of 29 Test centuries.

Hence, rookie West Indian fast bowler, in only his second Test, was naturally overjoyed and ecstatic when he trapped Tendulkar for a rare Test duck on the third day of the second Cable and Wireless Test at Queen’s Park Oval Sunday.

The 25-year-old Sanford’s special “souvenir” came at 14.22 hrs and he was so overcame by the magnitude of his achievement that there were at least ten jumps of jubilation as he rushed into the arms of smiling team-mates.

For India’s batting star, it was only the eighth time he had failed to score in 93 Tests and his first ‘duck’ against the West Indies.

It was a script no scribe or commentator could have imagined a few weeks ago.

West Indians were only familiar with the name Sanford through the Television comedy (Sanford and Son) that Trinidadians crave for every Saturday evening on Channel 6.

Certainly if the name Adam Sanford was called in his adopted home of Antigua last year, the first reaction anyone would get is that someone is trying to send mixed signals about American multi-millionaire businessman Allen Stanford.

But over the past three months, that feeling of mistaken identity changed dramatically as the powerfully-built Sanford not only set tongues wagging with his stiff fast-medium bowling from a straight and conservative run-up but also earn a coveted maroon West Indies cap.

A virtual unknown before the start of the 2002 regional first-class season, Sanford snared 41 wickets in eight Busta Series matches from a whopping 327.3 overs at an average of 25.19 for the Leeward Islands.

A descendant of the Carib tribe in his native Dominica, Sanford, who migrated to Antigua a few years ago to join the Police Force, had a best bowling performance of five for 80 against Barbados on the lively Ronald Webster Park pitch in Anguilla.

His consistency was evident and even before he took four for 136 in a marathon 42.2 overs in the Shield semifinal against Guyana, the West Indies selectors had named the one-season wonder in their 22-member squad for a one-week training camp ahead of India’s tour of the Caribbean.

His selection in the 13 for the first Test against India in Guyana raised many eyebrows. Where was the 25-year-old Sanford all the time?

Actually, Sanford first represented the Rawl Lewis-led Windward Islands team in the 1994 NorTel Under-19 tournament in Barbados when he captured 10 wickets in three matches at an average of 16.00 runs for each success.

After failing to gain selection for the Windwards’ opening match, Sanford made an impressive debut, taking five for 59 off 23.1 overs in his first bowl as the Windwards sent Trinidad and Tobago crashing to a shock innings and two runs defeat at the BET Sports Club ground.

He followed up with four for 29 against home team Barbados, who won the match by 171 runs but in the next game versus Guyana, surprisingly delivered a mere seven overs.

Left out of his team’s final game against Jamaica, Sanford was also overlooked by the junior West Indies selectors, who opted for fast bowlers Reon King (6 wickets), Joseph Williams (17 wickets), Marlon Black (11 wickets) and Ricky Christopher (11 wickets) for a short ‘test’ series against Young England.

Afterwards, Sanford’s cricket was limited to appearances for his native Dominica in the Windward Islands tournament. He made his first-class debut in 1997 for the Windwards but after taking two wickets for 55 runs and scoring 30 not out, lost his place in the team. But once he relocated to Antigua, he seemed to have a new lease on life as a lawman.

Last year, the curly-haired Sanford joined a number of local Antiguan “support” bowlers, who practised with the West Indies team at the new Airport Ground, prior to the Test match in Antigua against South Africa.

Then, he surprised many of the West Indies Test batsmen with his ability to get the ball to swing and skid along the pitch at good pace.

It was therefore not surprising when he was selected for the Antigua national team, which won the Leeward Islands three-day competition last year.

Considered a batting ‘rabbit’, Sanford’s bowling ability was not seen as enough to win him selection on the 14-man squad for the Red Stripe Bowl one-day competition.

The more experienced fast bowlers Goldwin Prince, Kerry Jeremy, Ricky and Christopher were preferred, alongside all-rounders Curtis Roberts, Wilden Cornwall, Earl Waldron, Ian Tittle and Gregg Skepple.

But Sanford’s turn was to come in the Busta Cup and he grabbed it with both hands as he jumped ahead of several other fast-bowling contenders on the West Indies’ pace list with consistent performances.