Who says history does not repeat itself
by Colin Croft
Stabroek News
December 20, 2002

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As US President Richard Nixon used to say; "Let us get something perfectly clear immediately."

Bangladesh, in being beaten by the West Indies by an innings and 310 runs in that first Test, got exactly what they deserved!! There should be no pity for them. By the time you read this, Bangladesh should also have lost the 2nd Test. If they want to play with the big boys; play Test cricket; then they have to be big boys, or grow up fast!!

There are also the old cliches in the Caribbean; `One has got to burn to learn' and, the one that many a boy heard from his parents as the strop or cane was diligently applied to the backside, by especially the mother of the family; "I am only beating you so badly because I love you!!"

Yeh, right!!

The simple fact is that, while there is probably no love lost here, if Bangladesh wants to play Test cricket, then this is what Test cricket is all about; pain, sometimes severe pain and injuries too, for gain. After all, in 1978, the West Indies did dismiss Australia at the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad & Tobago, for 90 in their first innings, to go on to win the game handsomely by an innings plus. Nearing 2003, just about 25 years afterwards, Australia is undoubtedly the best cricket team in the world. This would suggest that there is certainly hope there for Bangladesh. Who knows, maybe in 2030 or so, they may be World Champions.

The parallels of the present West Indies cricket team do not stop there. In 1974/5, as they toured India, the West Indies had four excellent but relatively inexperienced, two untried, but future, two already proven, superstars as a part of their batting strength: Lawrence Rowe, Alvin Kallicharran, Gordon Greenidge and Vivian Richards. The fast bowler who also emerged with tremendous credibility from that tour was the redoubtable Andy Roberts, the "Father" of all modern-day West Indian fast bowlers. At the then phenomenal speed of about 86 MPH (137.5 KPH), `Fruit-Tee' Roberts frightened the bejeebers out of batsmen everywhere around the world.

Now, the West Indies batting is again circled around four who could become excellent, certainly, at this point in time, potential world beaters; Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Wavell Hinds. Again another fast bowler emerges to help them out; Jermaine Lawson. Like Roberts, he will, not could, but WILL, soon take over the mantle from Merve Dillon as being the leading West Indian fast bowler. By the way, Merve Dillon has only himself to blame for such a situation, but that is another story in itself.

In the meantime, who says that history does not repeat itself. That person could not be West Indian!!

When Lawson played his first Test, against India a few weeks ago, a Test match in which he got the treasured scalps of two of the best five present day batsmen anywhere in the world, Sachin Tendulkar and Raoul Dravid, he was already clocking in at 148 KPH (92.5MPH). Stunning, really, when one remembers that few, if any, (maybe Australia's Jeff Thompson and Brett Lee, West Indian Mike Holding and Pakistan's Shoaib Achtar), have gone close to 100 MPH. For a 20 year old, this is almost unbelievable, certainly incredible. Lawson would be expected to be `fully mature' as a fast bowler by the time he is 28-30 years old, barring any serious injury. World, watch out!! There could be some very fiery, highly dangerous stuff ahead!!

Lawson's high-arm action is very reminiscent of Joel Garner or Ian Bishop, the almost nonchalant approach to the bowling crease more in keeping with `Mr. Tee' Holding. At this point, though, he become almost fully chest-on, not unlike perhaps `Big Bird' Garner or even yours truly. With some steadying of the head and less `fading away' after delivery, this guy could terrorize batsmen for a long time in the future.

Ironically, Lawson even admits that he "corrected" that flaw in his delivery, courtesy of another present West Indies opening bowler, one who cannot be termed "fast", Pedro Collins, during his, Lawson's, stupendous spell of 6 for 3 in that 1st Test. Since Collins has now played in 17 Test matches, he is by far the most experienced of the West Indies bowlers used in the first ever Bangladesh-West Indies Test series.

Lawson gives Collins some credit for his immediate success.

"Pedro came across to me and suggested that I was `falling away' on delivery. He told me to keep my left arm straighter and to keep it up longer."

"I did exactly that, ran a bit closer to the stumps and found that the ball then started to `swing' towards the `shiny' side (of the ball)."

For Lawson, the discovery of that old art with a new name, "reverse swing," must have been like Christopher Columbus and his men sighting San Salvador for the first time. I wonder if our wonder-boy Coach (for want of a better name), Roger Harper, ever explained that phenomenon to him. From Lawson's suggestion, it seems that when it happened with his bowling was perhaps the first time he had heard of it!!

He continued: "All I needed to do then was to get the ball in the right areas and the rest would happen. That is what I managed to do." Boy, did he ever!!

Lawson is also obviously very different from many of the recent vintage of West Indian fast bowlers. He seems to actually listen to advice. If only Franklyn Rose and Reon King, his predecessors in the team, and very unlikely to make any come-back, young as they are, could have done just that!!

As Bangladesh moved from a ticklish 80-3 to a desperate 80-6, Lawson took three wickets in four balls, the three wickets all LBW. Talk about getting the ball in the right areas. Indeed!! All that is needed is simply straight and fast, and even sometimes, some swing. Jermaine Lawson has other qualities too that suggest that he has the making of a good future West Indian fast bowler. He hails from the countryside of Jamaica, Spanish Town, which suggests that he was weaned on natural foods from the soil, and not fast junk foods that even some of the highest paid West Indian professional cricketers seem to suggest that is all that is necessary. Natural athleticism and strength beats manufactured abilities any time. Very much like his compatriot Holding, he is `quiet' but carries a very fast ball. Many may claim that `it was only Bangladesh, so Lawson was "taking advantage." I hasten to suggest that both Joe Frazier and George Foreman, the boxers, did exactly that, beat everyone mercilessly, until both fought Mohammed Ali.

The time is probably coming when Jermaine Lawson would have terribly hard days in the cricket field. How he copes with the tough side of cricket would be down to character and the efforts that are put into keeping him at the height of his abilities by the West Indies Cricket Board and everyone else. For now, with all of the fast bowling potential that he has, let him enjoy his success. For him, while he learns his craft, the game could only become harder. Only time would prove if he is indeed hard enough for the game!!

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