14 December 1980, Dunedin, New Zealand
The funniest and most famous cricket speech ever delivered. No idea when or where! (let us know. Introduced by Jim Maxwell ABC Grandstand.)
As I told you, the over took fifteen minutes, the captain called me and said, ‘Wesley, I'm still watching you.’ He said, ‘whatever you do now, do not bowl a bouncer to Richie Benaud.’
I said ‘Ok Skipper, you just watch me.’
And I walked back, still very hurt, at the shame, the scandal of dropping that catch. My team mates were telling me, 'we are with you, you can't even catch a cold.'
But as I walked back I had other things in mind. I became very purposeful.
If I could only just get this man now, four and half million people in the West Indies would really come awake, and since it was only about three in the morning, that would have been a good achievement.
So I turned, looked around, fingered my cross, prayed a little prayer, pulled at my trousers and took off.
God was merciful because I found it [ ] about to bowl for four hours, I found that there was a little pep in my step, and there was a little spring in my heels, so I said, ‘eh eh, let’s go Benaud, forgetting all that the Captain had said, I’m bowling the fastest bouncer that I'd ever bowled in my life.
Benaud feeling surprised, shaped for the hook, it took the glove, and then was Alexander triumphantly in the air, taking the catch and rolling over in great triumph.
I swung round, my arms raised, going towards my captain, hoping he will embrace me, but all I got was a stony silence and a wicked stare.
So I said, 'He's out skipper, he's out!'.
He says, 'What did I tell you?'
I said, 'He's out, he's out.'
And then the joke was no more. He said 'Do you really understand what would have happened had that ball had taken the top edge and gone for four runs?'
For the first time in twelve minutes I remembered that Australia needed four to win. So there again in deep despair, a batsman out but still no joy.
As the new batsman came in to bat, Meckiff was his name. He took guard, a monumental rabbit, surely he would not be able to stand the test of time, as I moved in.
But my spirit was broken. How could you expect a man to get a wicket and yet be admonished by his captain? I as walked in meekly, I bowled just as meekly and Meckiff hit it just as sweetly to the mid-wicket boundary.
He ran one, he ran 2, he ran 3. The ball went right to the boundary, about I would say about a metre way, and there was Colin Hunte, not giving up , chasing all the way, picking up the ball just a metre from the boundary and throwing it with remarkable accuracy back to the wicket keeper who did not have to move a centimetre. He took the ball and stumped.
And there was Grout, sprawled out on the ground, and two yards out of his crease.
So another man was out and Sir Frank Warrell came up to me and said, ‘You've got one ball to go.’
I said, ‘I know.’
He says ‘And I'm watching you.’
And I said, ‘I know.’
He says, ‘And what is more, the umpire's watching you too.’
So I did not understand what he's saying, so I said to him, ‘What are you saying?’
He said, ‘Well listen. One ball to go and if you bowl a no ball ... you will never be able to land in Barbados again.’
It was then that I saw the predicament I was in. And at that stage Frank Warrell, as cunning as he is, called me over as I made my way back and he says, ‘I have nothing to tell you. But the problem is that batsman doesn't know that I have nothing to tell you. So if I move the man at backward square leg two feet to the right, and then two feet to the left, he wouldn't know that I had nothing to tell you.’
So he did just that. There was Solomon, two feet to the right and then two feet to the left.
And I made my last lonesome trek back forty yards away from stumps. As I came in, gasping for air, pressing through for the last ball, my feet planted some three yards behind the crease, just in case we had a benevolent Australian umpire.
And so Kline turned the ball backward of square for what looked like an easy run -- it was really, until Solomon, little Joe Solomon, moved smartly to his left picked up the ball and with just one stump to see, threw and hit it bulls-eye. The square leg umpire and an Autralian jumped four feet in the air and still gave him out.
And Meckiff was heard to say as he returned rather disconcertainly(sic) to the pavilion, ‘fancy losing like that.’
The West Indian cricketers were sure we were not lost. Ten men were out, weren't they? But we didn't know if we had won either.
So we all went off the cricket ground, umpires, players, those who were not playing, those who were out and the extras all gathered into the one dressing room.
We drank beer, we drank champagne and dinner was summoned from the Lemond hotel and we did not leave there until 10.30 that night.