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Resurfaced video reignites debate about controversial Greig-Kallicharan incident

by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

A clipping of an incident from the 1974 Test between England and West Indies has resurfaced and reignited an old debate about a controversial non-dismissal involving Tony Greig and Alvin Kallicharan.

The moment happened at the very end of the second day’s play in Port of Spain, in February 1974. West Indies were 274-6 after England had posted 131 in their first innings, with Bernard Julien set to face the final ball from Derek Underwood. Greig was fielding at silly point, extremely close to the batsman.

Julien fended towards Greig’s right, and thought he’d seen off the day as he turned around and began walking back. Alan Knott, the England wicketkeeper, seemed to think the same as he dislodged the stumps, but even as he did so, Greig, who had collected the ball, threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end, with Kallicharan already out of the crease, on the way to the dressing room. Greig appealed, and the umpire gave it out.

There was confusion as everyone in the venue came to terms with what had happened. Some only realised when the wickets column on the scoreboard ticked over to seven, and according to an ESPNcricinfo piece looking back at the incident, the crowd began to boo. The commentators on radio speculated that, given Knott had dislodged the stumps before Greig broke the stumps, the ball was dead, and on the basis of that, the scoreboard reverted to 274-6.

However, there was a lot more to it than that. In a meeting involving the two captains, the West Indies board representatives and England’s tour manager Donald Carr, it was decided – after two and a half hours – that Kallicharan would be reinstated, despite the umpire standing by his call. In a press conference the next day – a rest day – the captains announced that, in the “interest of cricket as a whole” the appeal against Kallicharan had been withdrawn.

The statement also contained an apology from Greig, with the Englishman and Kallicharan publicly shaking hands when play resumed. However the footage posted on Twitter was clipped from a little-seen YouTube video, in which Greig, speaking in 2009, reiterated his belief that Kallicharan was out, and that he wasn’t guilty of anything.

“Alvin Kallicharan had no right to do what he did,” Greig said. “I mean, there we are in a tense situation, Bernard Julien batting, last over of the day. Kallicharan at the non-striker’s end, 150-odd not out (142*). As it turned out, the last ball was pushed to my right. And it went two metres to my right. I took two strides, picked the ball up, looked up and Alvin Kallicharan is on the middle of the pitch.

“Instinctively, [I] just threw the ball at the stumps, it hit the stumps, and out run out. As Douglas Sang Hue [umpire] said, he put his finger up straight away – out. You can’t back up and keep walking without going back to your crease, until the umpire says ‘That’s it for the day, gentlemen.’

“I can understand how the problem then festered, if you’d like. Because here I am a South African, running out the local hero last ball of the day, at 150 not out. And I could never understand why Donald Carr [team manager] decided that he’d better have negotiations with the establishment down at Port of Spain, and they decided he’d get reinstated. I shook hands with him [Kallicharan] and bowled him out (Pat Pocock bowled him out for 158). That was the end of that.

“But, absolutely, I’m sorry, I was guilty of a lot of things, but in that particular Test match, I wasn’t guilty of doing anything I don’t think I should have done.”

Many, including Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth, were able to see the incident for the first time, and, as such, opinions were formed and re-formed. Even former India slow left-armer Bishan Singh Bedi chimed in, calling Greig’s actions “misguided”.

There were comments to on the differences between eras, with Greig’s proximity to the batsman and lack of protective gear, and the nonchalant manner in which Knott removed the stumps particularly noteworthy.

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