West Indies Cricket: Beyond the Boundary

Looking for sexy cricketers? Don't waste your time on Australia or England...Sue Limb explains

I’ve always adored cricket, even as a girl.

I soon realised that what most fast bowlers wanted was maidens and that maidens could feel the same way. In those days English cricketers all seemed fat or bald, but the West Indies team was much more picturesque, and I transferred my affections immediately. On school books I changed my name from Limb to Limbo. Eagerly I stuffed an extra pair of rolled-up socks into my bra. I wanted to be a worthy groupie.

By the time Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall arrived in England I was ready. I adored them hotly in stereo. Wes Hall even shared my birthday (12 September) which somehow made me feel he was meant for me. I was sure that one day he would carry me away to Barbados and we would share birthday cakes for ever under a palm tree. I just had to get my O Levels out of the way first.

Too bad I couldn’t take O Level cricket. The poetry of it all was intoxicating. I longed to be stroked to the boundary by Desmond Haynes or be caught in the covers by, or perhaps with, Malcolm Marshall. I was, I have to admit, something of a child Arlott.

The great thing about Caribbean cricket is the electric atmosphere. Long before I ever came to the West Indies I saw it at the Surrey Oval. Conches blow, trumpets toot, beer cans supply the rhythm section. It’s drama, it’s opera, it’s wild. The West Indies win gloriously. They can collapse gloriously, too. England collapse into dust and ashes. The West Indies go down in flames.

Oh, my God! I adore Curtly, Mum! Look at his lovely teeth!”

I have a young daughter, and I can see that she’s inherited my interest in cricket. She lies in front of the TV, imploring Curtly to burst through the screen and sink his magnificent teeth into her neck.

Of course I’m past all that nonsense now. I take a serious, grown-up, connoisseur’s interest in Curtly’s figures. What do you think his inside leg measurement is, for a start? Imagine the thrill of turning up at the Recreation Ground in Antigua and almost immediately seeing Curtly Ambrose — not playing, just walking about. His height was something I had only previously encountered in church architecture. So dazed was I by the sight of him, I think I may even have walked under his legs.

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I was there to see England against the Leewards, sitting high in the breezy stands and admiring the jumbo jets floating past to land at V. C. Bird Airport.

Inevitably, Mike Atherton’s wicket fell, and a few yards below us two massive speakers burst into song. “Pressure — pressure — pressure — can’t take de pressure.” An eccentric figure with flying dreadlocks leapt onto the speakers and danced on his head, legs in the air. This was my first glimpse of the celebrated Gravy, Antigua’s one-man carnival. I didn’t see much of his face but I’d recognise the other end of him anywhere.

But ah, Barbados. This is the cradle of Caribbean cricket. Geoffrey Boycott must be the most popular Englishman on the island. Every taxi driver will tell you what a great batsman he is, and whenever he arrives a white Rolls Royce is there to pick him up. I think you could get the red-carpet treatment just by pretending to be his sister. I must try it some time.
I never did elope with Wes Hall, and it’s too late now. But my daughter is still making plans. Although she’s only 12 at the moment, she wishes me to record that if there are any aspiring young Brian Laras out there, and their intentions are honourable, she is open to offers for the year 2000