A Cricket Legend turns 60 today
By Cosmo Hamilton
August 31, 2004
IN his heyday Clive Hubert Lloyd would patrol the arc between cover point and mid-off like an over-zealous cop on the beat willing to pounce on anyone or anything that dared to violate his space.
He guarded the slip cordon as though it were a Brinks truck laden with U.S. currency, catching anything and everything that came remotely close to him. On the cricket field he was the embodiment of the long arm of the law.
In an appreciation of the former West Indies captain upon his retirement in 1984, the late lamented English poet and scribe John Arlott wrote - "He ambled, apparently abstractedly in the field, sun hat brim folded up like some amiable Paddington Bear but upon the cue of a stroke played near him, he leapt like some great cat into explosive action. His huge strides made his action area immense."
"In that respect," Arlott said, "he outstripped the ‘Rhodesian’ Colin Bland (generally regarded as the most outstanding fieldsman of his time) who may have looked more graceful but could not match Lloyd’s vast dives, goalkeeper fashion, to cut off a ball far beyond his reach."
As captain of the West Indies, he took to leadership like a duck to water. In his first Test match as captain, Lloyd scored 163 against India; in that first series he scored 636 runs at an average of 79.50.
In 36 Test matches as a member of West Indies team he scored 2 282 runs at 38.67: in 74 Test matches as captain he hammered 5 235 at an average of 51.32 with 14 centuries and 27 fifties.
To quote once again John Arlott, arguably the 20th century’s greatest cricket commentator - "Lloyd’s captaincy has been impressively marked by dignity; firm unfussy discipline; and cool realistic strategy."
Clive Hubert Lloyd, an icon blessed with old school humility, is understandably proud of his record as captain. He led West Indies in 74 Tests, won 36 of them, lost 12, and lost only 2 out of 18 series. His teams won 11 successive Tests - a record only recently eclipsed by Australian captain Steve Waugh. And under his stewardship the Windies once went undefeated for 28 consecutive Tests. Lloyd would however say that one of his most cherished accomplishments is that as captain or manager of the West Indies he has never lost a series at home. The latter is testament to the utmost respect he holds for the people of the Caribbean. And to date he is the only captain to have won back-to-back World Cups.
Now at age 60, Lloyd has long since left the field of play and now painfully watches West Indies lurch from defeat to humiliating defeat. He however continues to be passionate about international cricket generally, and is confident that given the appropriate personnel and the right direction, West Indies could once again rise to the top. In a recent article entitled ‘Back to the future by any means necessary’, Lloyd suggested that West Indies cricket urgently needs a massive make-over including new technologically advanced infrastructure, a more expansive cricket academy, a comprehensive professional coaching programme targeted to under-13 through under-19 cricketers in every territory, and the implementation of the ‘Walsh/Ambrose School for Pace Bowlers’.
At his 50th birthday celebration where he resides in Manchester, England, 10 years ago Lloyd said, "I will not relent in my efforts to ameliorate the human condition and I will not be denied the opportunity to contribute to the development of my beloved sport of cricket throughout the world, where once my career did flourish."
Indeed he continues to be a globetrotting crusader for cricket. As a highly regarded ICC match referee, Lloyd travels the world now even more than he did as a player. To illustrate that fact, today August 31, on his 60th birthday, he travels from Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he presided over the just concluded South Africa - Sri Lanka series, to his home in Manchester.
Lloyd would then two days later journey to New York where on September 4th he will attend the funeral of his 92 year-old aunt Marjorie Gibbs, mother of former West Indies great off-spinner Lance Gibbs.
He then returns to England to officiate in the ICC tournament scheduled for September 10. Just one year ago Lloyd bade an emotional farewell to his beloved mother Sylvia Lloyd who passed on her 90th birthday, July 18, 2003 in New York.
Lloyd often expressed the view that if his prowess as a batsman was a manifestation of his God-given talents, his success as captain was due in no small measure to the guidance of his mother Sylvia.
Apart from his official duties, over the last decade or so he has been relatively busy on the speaking circuit and has produced ‘forewords’ for several cricket books. He has delivered keynote speeches from Australia to Zimbabwe. And the bespectacled former West Indies captain recently penned the foreword to the book ‘Caught in Action’ - 20 years of West Indies cricket photography - by Barbadian Gordon Brooks - published by Wordsmith International 2003, and ’75 Years of West Indies Cricket - 1928 - 2003’ by Ray Goble and Keith A. P. Sandiford, published by Hansib Publications 2004.
In May of this year Lloyd delivered an address at the ICC meeting in Karachi, Pakistan, where he extolled the virtues of the ICC 2007 Cricket World Cup West Indies Committee for their efforts to date in staging the World Cup. He expressed confidence that the 2007 World Cup would be successfully organised much to the benefit of the Caribbean region.
And on July 19, 2004 Clive delivered ‘The Colin Cowdrey Spirit of Cricket lecture at the storied Lord’s cricket ground. On that occasion he strongly advocated for the ICC to implement essentially ‘a new economic order’ to redress the blatant inequities that exist between the wealthier cricketing nations such as Australia and South Africa, and the struggling economically challenged nations like West Indies, Bangladesh and others, to present everyone with a level playing field.
Lloyd also at that lecture called for increased use of technology such as hawk-eye to help umpires in decision-making, particularly in determining whether a batsman is lbw or out on a bat pad catch and so on.
West Indies coach Gus Logie once told me that then skipper Clive Lloyd was a father figure to him. And as recently as this summer former Windies captain Sir Vivian Richards in an interview in England also said that Lloyd was a father figure to him as he made his Test debut.
The avuncular, soft-spoken Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH), ‘Commander of the British Empire’ is of course not just a father figure but also a proud father of three grown children - Melissa, an actor who frequently appears on the British soap opera - ‘East Enders’, Samantha, a speech therapist, and 6-foot 10-inch tall son Jason. In between his dizzying travel itinerary Clive and his wife Waveney are doting grandparents of Melissa’s daughters - 3-year-old Naimakembo, and baby Meava Sylvia.
Lloyd at 60 is well set perhaps for a ton and from all reports is happy and healthy. And if the hall-of-famer has a gripe, it is that he was never allowed the autonomy as manager by the West Indies Cricket Board, to substantively manage, develop, and to select teams that were entrusted to him, and that the Board never implemented any of the changes which he articulated in his many voluminous manager’s reports.