Test Match Countdown: Hampshire's West Indians

With the series-opening #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies at the Ageas Bowl nearing, we're taking a look back at the West Indians who have represented Hampshire over the years

To mark the nearing of the first #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies at the home of Hampshire Cricket, our historian Dave Allen profiles the great West Indian players we've been fortunate enough to have represent Hampshire over the years

Part One:

Exactly 70 years ago young Roy Marshall toured England with the first West Indies side to win a Test series here. The batting was so strong that he couldn’t get a place, but at Southampton he scored a century and Hampshire persuaded him to turn his back on a possible international career, and play county cricket instead. He made his first-class debut for the county in 1953 and after qualifying, his Championship debut, two years later, helping Hampshire to third place for the first time. He was a dynamic opener who had a vital role in the title-winning season of 1961; succeeded Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie as captain in 1966, and stayed with Hampshire until 1972 – by the time of his retirement, only Phil Mead had scored more than his 30,303 first-class runs for Hampshire.

The next arrival was Daintes Abbias (‘Danny’) Livingstone, a left-hand batsman from Antigua. He came to England on National Service with the RAF, and played for Warwickshire 2nd XI from 1955, but when no contract was offered, he came to Hampshire and qualified in 1960, establishing himself in the problematic number four slot. In 1961 he passed 1,000 runs for the first time and on 1 September at Bournemouth won a place in Hampshire’s history, holding the catch off Peter Sainsbury, to dismiss Derbyshire’s Bob Taylor and clinch both the match and the title. In the last match of the 1962 season v Surrey, he was joined by Alan Castell with Hampshire 128-8; the then pair set a ninth wicket record partnership of 230, which still stands, and Danny posted his highest score, 200. In 1963 a score of 151 v the West Indians must have brought special pleasure. He continued playing regularly through the decade, then less often in 1971 & 1972, after which he retired and went home to Antigua, where he continued to play local cricket and became Chairman of Antigua’s Sports Council. He died of a stroke in 1988, age just fifty-five.

In late July, 1972 Hampshire met Derbyshire in a County Championship match at Basingstoke. Roy Marshall was by then batting at four, with Danny Livingstone one below him, while Marshall’s opening slot had been taken by young Gordon Greenidge from Barbados, by way of Reading. Two other natives of Barbados were also in that Hampshire side: off-spinner Larry Worrell, the cousin of the great Sir Frank, and pace bowler John Holder – later a major international umpire. Sadly, the weather was not respectful of these five Caribbean Hampshire men and the game was drawn. Livingstone top-scored in the match with 65*, Greenidge scored 43 & 32, passing 1,000 runs for the season; Worrell 37 & 2-54; Holder 28 & 1-49 and Marshall (run out) 4 & 47.

Part Two:

Roy Marshall and Danny Livingstone both had to qualify by residence to play county cricket – in Marshall’s case turning his back on a possible Test career. At the end of the 1966 season Hampshire gave a trial to a 16-year-old batsman from Reading, Gordon Greenidge. He had arrived in England from Barbados a few years earlier so also spent a couple of years qualifying before he made his Championship debut at number six in August 1970. His 24 was second highest score in the first innings in a drawn match; in his third match v Glamorgan at Portsmouth he opened for the first time and scored 65 in a second wicket partnership with David Turner. He never looked back.

Gordon Greenidge was a member of the 1973 Championship winning side and again in three Sunday League triumphs in 1975, 1978 and 1986. He played for Hampshire from 1970-1987, scoring almost 20,000 first-class runs at 45.40, to which can be added 9,801 limited overs runs at 38.43. But it was not simply the quantity of his runs that marks him as one of Hampshire’s greatest players it was the manner too. There are too many memorable occasions to do justice to the magnificence of his batting but for example, in an important match v Sussex at Southampton in 1975 in his highest score of 259 he went to every 50 and 100 with a six. Until three years ago, he had recorded the three highest innings in Hampshire’s limited overs history. With the West Indies he won two World Cups and scored 7,558 Test runs at 44.72. He was a truly great player.

In 1973 Andy Roberts arrived from Antigua and spent one year qualifying before he was unleashed on the Championship in 1973 and in that one season probably bowled as consistently fast as any man in Hampshire’s history, taking 119 wickets in just 21 matches at 13.62. He as much as anyone deserved the Championship title, so cruelly denied by the late season rain. At Hampshire, things were never quite so happy for him after that. He missed part of 1975 with the World Cup and was injured when Hampshire clinched their first Sunday League; in 1976 he toured with the West Indians; in 1977 there were just 40 wickets and the complications of the ‘Packer Revolution’. He played part of 1978, contributing to Hampshire’s second Sunday trophy but departed discontented in early July.

When Malcolm Marshall arrived as Hampshire’s newest overseas player in 1979, little was known about him. He wasn’t tall for a fast bowler and had made his Test debut that winter in India, not least because the West Indies bowlers, including Roberts, were mostly playing in World Series cricket. On his Championship debut v Glamorgan at Southampton he had match figures of 7-68 in a Hampshire victory; it was the start of something rather special.

Part Three:

When Malcolm Marshall arrived at Hampshire in 1979 he was the sixth player from the Caribbean to play for the county, following namesake Roy, Danny Livingstone, John Holder, Gordon Greenidge and Larry Worrell. When he retired from county cricket in 1993 – to return as Coach – he was the third of just four Hampshire bowlers with a career average below 20 (the others, Shackleton, Roberts and Abbott). He took 826 wickets at 18.64, with another 239 in limited overs games, and added nearly 6,000 runs at 25.20, with five centuries. All that marks him out as one of the greatest Hampshire cricketers of all time, and the most loyal and committed of overseas players. Another measure of his achievements is to note Hampshire’s Championship performances when he was playing regularly or touring with the West Indies. The touring years began in 1980 when Hampshire were last for the only time since 1905, then 15th in 1984, 15th again in 1988 and 9th in 1991. By contrast, over the ten seasons 1981-1990 when he played a full county season Hampshire were second in 1985, third three times and never lower than seventh (1981). Until the end of that period, the same applied to Gordon Greenidge.

In 1984, lacking Marshall and with no certain choices to open the bowling, Hampshire signed West Indian Milton Small, until he was a late call-up to the touring side and so, last minute they recruited left-armer Elvis Reifer from Barbados, whose son is currently touring England. But they also asked around about other pace bowlers, invited Cardigan Connor from London club cricket for a trial and signed him immediately. ‘Cardie’ became a very popular player over the next 15 seasons, taking 614 first -class and 411 limited-overs wickets – usually with a big smile. His limited-overs total is the Hampshire record and his overall total makes him one of relatively few men to have passed 1,000 career wickets for Hampshire. He was also one of the men who played in Hampshire’s first three Lord’s Cup Finals while in 1996 his 9-38 v Gloucestershire at Southampton placed him fifth in the county’s best bowling figures. Since retiring ‘Cardie’ has returned to his native Anguila, and is recalled always with great affection.

Part Four:

From their victory at Lord’s in 1950, through four decades the West Indies were one of the great Test Match sides and as we have seen, some of their finest players graced Hampshire’s ranks. The past thirty years have not always been so successful and once Malcolm Marshall retired in 1993 their cricketers tended to have less impact on Hampshire cricket. Cardigan Connor played until 1998 and had some fine days, not least his 9-38 against Gloucestershire, but pace bowler Linden Joseph took just seven wickets in 1990, although by virtue of not out innings ended with a batting average of 152.00!

In 1984 Hampshire tried to re-shape their attack, signing Norman Cowans (born Jamaica) from Middlesex. He played 19 Tests for England but enjoyed little success at Hampshire with 26 wickets over two seasons. His new-ball partner should have been Antiguan Winston Benjamin but he struggled with injuries and played just 11 matches over two seasons, although there was one Championship century and a best of 6-46 among his 30 county wickets.

Nixon McLean arrived in 1998 and spent two years at Hampshire, after which for some years a succession of Australian cricketers was the popular choice. McLean took 108 first-class wickets at under 30 and another 51 in limited-overs matches – and while not a consistent batsman he could hit a long ball.  In 2007 Hampshire reached the FP Trophy Lord’s Final where they were soundly beaten by Durham. Daren Powell joined Hampshire straight from the West Indies tour that year and played in the Final, taking two wickets, but his 10 overs went for 80. He played just four Championship matches with a best of 4-8 in a victory over Worcestershire.

In 2015 Hampshire returned from a pre-season tour of the Caribbean with a new signing, fast bowler Fidel Edwards. His five seasons were interrupted by injury in 2016, when Hampshire signed Tino Best as a replacement – he took 14 wickets at just under 40 each. Edwards, still bowling with real pace has proved a very good signing, with 185 wickets at 25.35 in his 50 first-class matches – had this been a normal season he would surely have passed 200 for the county; perhaps he will get there still?

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