Strangely, a land of strapping fast bowlers has also produced small-made batsmen of repute. One such pocket dynamo from the West Indies was Alvin Isaac Kallicharran, a slender willow-wielder, an elegant left-hander at that, standing 5’4” in his socks.
In the first World Cup in 1975, the West Indies and Australia were split favourites with the latter having its nose in front in betting circles. The West Indies, in Group B, had made short work of Sri Lanka, but had huffed and puffed against Pakistan before eking out a one-wicket victory.
Naturally, the morale wasn’t too high in the Caribbean camp going into its next league match against Australia.
Australia had put up 192 on the board and the West Indies lost Gordon Greenidge when only 29 runs had been got.
In came Kallicharran, shirt unbuttoned and bare-headed on an overcast day. Protective gear was limited to the gloves, abdomen guard and pads for batsmen, the other aids of safety like the helmet, elbow protector and chest and rib guards unknown then. Dennis Lillee, the always-aggressive Aussie pace bowler, was the major threat and Kallicharran took on the job of neutralising him. And there followed a 10-ball assault in which Kalli cracked Lillee for 35 runs, with seven fours and a six, the sequence running 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 6, 0, 4.
Most of the strokes were on the off-side, the piece de resistance being, of course, the six, a resounding hook depositing the ball in the stands at long leg. Lillee had a lot of uncharitable things to say, but Kalli took everything in his stride.
Kalli fell for 78 off 83 balls with the total at 153 after easily outscoring Roy Fredericks, a savage hitter himself, in a stand of 124 for the second wicket. Victory was then achieved easily, making the mood in the Caribbean camp buoyant.
Kalli continued his good run in the victorious semifinal against New Zealand, scoring 72 off 92 deliveries and getting two back-to-back Man of the Match awards!
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