Book: Colour Blind: A Mixed Bag
Author: Alvin Kallicharran
Publisher: Notion Press
Price: Rs 399
For cricket enthusiasts of the ’70s, Alvin Kallicharran needs no introduction. The 5’4”-tall cricketer was part of the West Indies team then, which included greats like Gordon Greenidge, Roy Fredericks, Vivian Richards, Rohan Kanhai, Lawrence Rowe and Clive Lloyd. Kallicharran was a good player of both pace and spin, especially the latter, unafraid to use his feet against the spinners, apart from playing all the shots in the book.
He is also the batsman who smacked 35 off 10 deliveries in a match at World Cup 1975, against Aussie pacers like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson.
The title of the book makes one think. The cricket ball does not know the colour of the person who hits it. But the batsman knows only the colour of the ball because as a player, one must be colour-blind.
Kallicharran is moving as he outlines the adversities he faced in childhood. Being one of 11 kids (a harbinger of things to come?), he was called 'Seconds', as everything he owned was secondhand. He would work in the sugar plantations with his father. The knife used to cut the sugarcane was used to carve a bat from wood while the ball came from another part of the wood. Self-practice, with a ball swinging from a rope hanging from a tree, enhanced his batting skills.
The hand of providence landed him in school, giving him a chance to play in a match between the community centre in their village and the teachers and that was the beginning of his career innings. He recalls how no-balls were considered legitimate in his time, how he never wore a helmet and more memorably, how Sir Garfield Sobers did not speak to him for two weeks, upset that Kallicharran had thrown his wicket after scoring 80 runs.
The book, true to its name, is a mixed bag. If you are a West Indies cricket fan and want to know more about the formidable 1970s team, you will enjoy the book.