A Look At Kanhai And Butcher

Date Published: 
Guyana Chronicle
Chronicle Staff

THE Guyana Cricket Board's second induction ceremony, to honour outstanding former Guyanese cricketers and administrators into its Hall of Fame, will be held at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground, Bourda, on Monday. Those to be honoured are Basil Butcher, Roy Fredericks, Lance Gibbs, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Joe Solomon, Sir Clyde Walcott and Kenny Wishart.

Today, Chronicle Sport takes a look at the career of two of the stalwarts.

ROHAN Babulal Kanhai

Rohan Kanhai had a natural genius for batting. A small, neat right-hander with every cricket stroke and a few inventive ones of his own (notably a full-blooded sweep to leg-side - half-volleys which swung him off his feet and the ball out of the ground), he possessed a wonderful gift of timing and scored runs consistently all over the world.

A steely determination and huge appetite for runs made him one of the most consistent of batsmen to come from the Caribbean and he did much, personally, to dispel the general impression that West Indies batsmen would waste their natural brilliance from time to time and either throw their wickets away or fold up quickly in a crisis.

Though he was not a particularly successful captain when that honour came his way - his occasionally stormy temperament being wrong for the job - Rohan Kanhai was in this sense highly significant in the development of West Indian cricket at international level.

He made his first appearance for British Guiana in 1954/5, and for the West Indies in 1957; for Western Australia in 1961/2, for Warwickshire in 1968, for Tasmania in 1969/70 He played, indeed, in 61 of his 79 Tests without a break from his first series on the tour of England in 1957 when he was used as a makeshift wicketkeeper.

Apart from his 15 Test centuries, he passed 50 on 28 occasions, averaging 50 every third innings. On his second tour of England in 1963 he scored 1 149 runs (41.03) and 497 runs (55.22) in the Tests.

In 1966, he scored a century at The Oval in the only Test of the series which the West Indies lost and in 1973, as captain, made 653 runs (50.23), including 147 in the third Test at Lord's.

He had a prolific winter's cricket in 1958/9, scoring 538 runs (67.25) in five Tests in India, including his highest score of 256 at Calcutta. This was also his maiden Test century and the entire innings occupied only six and a half hours. It included 42 fours and remains the highest score in a Test in India.

Moving to Pakistan, Kanhai hit 217 in the third Test at Lahore, helping to inflict Pakistan's first home defeat. At home against England the following season he scored 110 out of 244 in the second innings of one of the bottle-throwing Tests, the second at Port-of-Spain, England innings an infamous contest.

In Australia in 1960/61 he scored 117 and 115 at Adelaide to become the first West Indian to reach hundreds in both innings of a Test match. This series brought him 503 runs (50.30) and the tour 1 093 runs at 64.29 with four centuries.

The following year, at home against India, he made two Test centuries and an aggregate of 495 runs (70.71), more than anyone else on either side.

Against Australia at home in 1964/5 he made big scores in each of the last three Tests - 89, 129 and 121, but he showed he was capable of a loss of form in India in 1966/7. He scored only 463 runs on the tour, although 227 of these came in the three Tests at 56.75.

He played in several English (and Scottish) leagues, and married a Lancashire girl. He became a more reliable player as his experience grew and his temperament became less volatile. In the West Indies in 1967/8 he scored 535 runs in the Tests against England at an average of 59.44, including 143 in the fourth Test at Port-of-Spain, and 150 in the last at Georgetown.

As successor to Sobers as captain in Australia in 1972/3, he had successive Test scores of 84, 105 and 56, finishing with 433 runs (54.12), but Australia won the series.

A successful series followed in the second half of the English summer of 1973. Kanhai's 653 runs helping his side to two Test wins out of three, but at home the following winter he personally had a poor series and his team failed to follow up several apparently winning situations against England, who, having lost the first Test at Port-of-Spain, squared the rubber by winning the last on the same ground.

His sequence of 61 Tests were broken only because he had to return to England for a cartilage operation. He was immensely valuable to Warwickshire for 10 years, scoring 1 000 runs 10 times, his best aggregate being 1 894 runs (57.39) in 1970 and in 1972 he scored eight centuries to equal the county record.

In 1968 at Trent Bridge against Nottinghamshire he added 402 with Billy Ibadulla, a record for Warwickshire's fourth wicket (Kanhai making 253) and in 1974 put on a world record second-wicket stand of 465 with John Jameson against Gloucestershire at Edgbaston, his own contribution being 213 not out.

  • First-class career 1955-77) - 28 639 runs (49.29) including 83 centuries, 18 wickets (55.11), 315 catches and seven stumpings.
  • TEST matches (79): 6 227 runs (47.53) including 15 centuries, 0-85 and 50 catches.

BASIL Fitzherbert Butcher

A SUPPLE, wristy and resolute right-handed batsman and an occasional leg-break bowler, Basil Butcher became a consistently reliable performer at four or five in the West Indies order.

In his first Test against India at Bombay in 1958/9, he made 28 and 64 not out and in the whole series 486 runs (69.42), including 103 in the third match at Calcutta and 142 in the fourth at Madras. Thereupon, he had a chequered career in representative cricket until the 1963 England tour when his 1 294 runs (44.62), including 383 in eight completed Test innings, one of which was 133 in a total of 229 in the memorable draw at Lord's established him in the side.

During an interval in the Lord's match he opened a letter which advised him, that (against a background threat of civil war) his wife back home had a miscarriage. Very upset, Butcher continued to play a solid and miserly innings which saved his side.

Against Australia in 1964/5 he made 405 runs (40.50), including 117 at Port of Spain in the second Test; Richie Benaud considered he was the most difficult of all the West Indians to get out. This was confirmed in Australia in 1968/9 with an identical Test record, 405 runs (40.50), including two centuries, and in all first-class matches he made 1 505 (51.89).

He remained at his best on two further tours of England in 1966 and 1969. In the former year he scored 1 105 runs (48.04), including 420 (60.00) in the Tests; his 209 not out at Trent Bridge in the third match was an heroic innings in seven and three-quarter hours, which won the match after West Indies had been 90 behind on the first innings.

In the short tour in 1969, he headed the batting with 984 runs (61.50), including three centuries. The only Test wickets he took were five for 34 (four coming in three overs), when he finished off England's total for 414 at Port of Spain in 1967/8.

He was a reliable outfielder with a remarkable powerful and accurate underarm throw. For many years he was a professional in the Lancashire League.

  • First class career (1954-72: 11 628 runs (44.90) including 31 centuries.
  • TEST matches (44): 3 104 runs (43.11) including seven centuries, five wickets (18.00) and 15 catches.