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‘It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for the West Indies’
Willow Talk: Gordon Greenidge

Brian Lara

Every Indian cricket-lover remembers that delivery from Balwinder Singh Sandhu in the 1983 World Cup final. You were at the receiving end. What actually happened?

Gordon Greenidge: Well, I was deceived, definitely. I thought it would go past the off-stump. I did not expect it to cut back so viciously.

Some people blame you for the defeat…

Gordon Greenidge: They are entitled to their opinion, but I have no reason to buy that. You cannot score heavily in every match. I am not saying that there were four other batsmen to follow. But what happened to me should have been an eye-opener for the rest and they could have batted cautiously. I do not want to begin any controversy. The Indians played well and we could not match them on that given day. So we lost.

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Gordon Greenidge: I don't think it was easy. We had to be at our best always. We knew that failures would not be entertained. When you represent such a strong outfit, it is a challenge to display your talent to the world on a consistent basis. We knew we had to dominate all the time and win match after match. That is exactly what we tried to do.

Things have changed for the West Indies in the last two decades. How hopeful are you about the home team's chances in the forthcoming World Cup?

Gordon Greenidge: I am optimistic. The boys have been playing well. Their recent performances have boosted our expectations. They will be playing at home, so the supporters, the grounds and the atmosphere - everything will be familiar. The whole of the Caribbean will be behind them if they start playing well. They have the opportunity of a lifetime and they should enjoy it.

Had you ever imagined that the West Indies would host the World Cup some day?

Gordon Greenidge: We had kept our fingers crossed. We are fun-loving people, driven by instinct rather than the brain. We always dreamt of hosting the competition, having won the first two editions. We went berserk when we got the news. It is a wonderful opportunity for all the islands to show the world what they are capable of.

Are the people confident of doing a great job as hosts?

Gordon Greenidge: Of course! We are extremely passionate about what we do. There may be some problems, but the people will definitely win your hearts. The facilities that have been developed will remain even after the tournament. That is an added boost for the future of West Indian cricket. It needed a makeover, which wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the World Cup. The competition will surely be a stepping stone for the tomorrow of Caribbean cricket.

The Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, is your home-ground. It has been renovated in such a way that it hardly resembles the old stadium. Many of your memories would be attached to the venue. Does the transformation hurt?

Gordon Greenidge: Look, times have changed, and we should change with the times. The stadium needed renovation, you cannot deny that. The stands are there and they bear the same names. It is now a modern stadium with all the requisite facilities, and that is great for the game. Some oldies like me may be 'fascinated' with memories of the old stadium for obvious reasons, but we needed to move on. I am ok with the changes.

Can you visualize the West Indies playing the final at the Kensington Oval on April 28?

Gordon Greenidge: It can't get bigger and better than that! There is no reason why Lara and his team cannot reach the final. Let's hope it happens!

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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