Home > Features > Moments in history >

Jermaine Lawson: A genuine fast-bowler whose career was marred by injuries

Jermaine-Lawson-of-the-West-Indies300
Jermaine Lawson © Getty Images

Jermaine Lawson, born on January 13, 1982 could bowl very fast and inflict damage on the opposition with his thunderbolts. However, a slew of injuries halted his progress and his career was marred with some heavy scrutiny over his dodgy bowling action. Finally, he disappeared into the oblivion in 2008. Bharath Ramaraj traces Lawson’s career.

When West Indies Under-19 team took on England Under-19 in the World Cup in 2000, everyone expected a see-saw battle that would go down to the wire. But a tall and rangy pacer from Jamaica by the name of Jermaine Lawson tore apart the English batting line-up in a fiery spell of five overs. On expected lines, at such a young age, he lacked the control, but he certainly had that gift bestowed upon him to bowl with raw pace.

A few years later, he was picked to play during West Indies’ ill-fated tour to Sri Lanka in 2001. He made his One-Day International (ODI) debut during that tour against the hosts. Sri Lankan batsmen were brimming with confidence and ripped apart his wayward bowling. In particular, the Matara dasher, Sanath Jayasuriya gave him a true taste of international cricket with ferocious cuts. Yet, the ability to bowl with good pace was unmistakable. It took twelve more months for Lawson’s staggering talent to flourish in internationals. In an ODI match at Vijayawada against India, he wreaked havoc with sheer pace to take a four-wicket haul and help the beleaguered West Indies line-up win the series. The series win must have felt like an oasis in a vast desert for the Windies.

By then, he had already made his Test debut against India as well and it seemed like West Indies had unearthed a fine fast bowler. During their tour to Bangladesh in 2002, he burst open the home team’s batting line-up at Dhaka with an earth-shattering spell of six wickets for the cost of mere three runs. The mystical brilliance of Lawson helped him to soar to great heights. He went into the history books, as the bowler with the most economical wicket-taking spell. Yes, the opposition he bowled to was nothing to write home about. Yet, it takes some doing to snare six wickets for three runs.

Unfortunately by then, there were already whispers about his bowling action. He was still picked in the 2003 World Cup squad and bowled in the final game of the tournament for West Indies against Kenya. It was his blistering spell on a flat deck at Antigua against Australia though that opened the eyes of cricket pundits and propelled him into the limelight. The famed Australian batting line-up proved to be sitting ducks against Lawson’s rapid pace. Australian tail-enders were left with bruisers with Lawson peppering them with thunderbolts. He also took a memorable hat-trick in the same series in the third Test at Bridgetown, Barbados.

Now, that was the time when he came under heavy scrutiny for his suspect bowling action. A thunderstorm was blowing over his head for sure. Umpires standing for that game, David Shepherd and Srinivas Venkataraghavan called for video evidence of his action. By the fourth day’s play, it was confirmed that match referee, Mike Procter indeed had reported Lawson to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for a suspect action.

He went through the remedial process of modifying his action and was picked to tour the Old Blighty in 2004. But a terrible spinal stress fracture laid him low and he couldn’t play in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004.

Jermaine Lawson has taken 51 wickets for the West Indies in 13 Tests © Getty Images
Jermaine Lawson has taken 51 wickets for the West Indies in 13 Tests © Getty Images

Lawson came back with a rip-roaring performance for a West Indies side missing some of its key players, due to internal strife in Sri Lanka in 2005 with 11 wickets next to his name in the Test series. His eight-wicket haul in the first at Colombo (SSC) almost helped the Caribbean outfit to upset the apple-cart. There were yet again whispers about his action, but he went onto play the Test match against Australia at Brisbane at the end of the year. However, all those question marks hanging over his action seemed to have taken its toll on him. He bowled trundlers at Brisbane and looked a pale shadow of his former self. Tragically, it was the last time he played for the Caribbean side. Even a pep talk with West Indian bowling legend Michael Holding who had once questioned his ‘dicey’ action didn’t seem to help.

With an amalgam of iron-clad self belief and dogged determination, he took that setback in the right spirit by putting up impressive shows in both 2006-07 and 2007-08 First-Class seasons, respectively. He proved to be an emblem of how to essay a comeback from depths of despair during those two seasons. Just when everyone thought that he had resurrected his career, he was again laid low by injuries. It seemed to have taken the wind out of Lawson’s sails. In 2008, he was picked by Leicestershire as a Kolpak player.

He was laid low by a bout of fever during that time and could only play two games for them. His nondescript performance against a relatively weaker outfit in County cricket, Northamptonshire proved to be the death knell for him. In that game, he was bereft of confidence and rhythm, as he bowled all over the place and a slew of no balls too. In the 13 overs he bowled, he took one wicket but went for as many as 96 runs. He never again played a competitive match.

Last year, he took part in a few exhibitions matches by playing for World XI in Pakistan in a bid to show that the country was safe to play international cricket.

Lawson had that gift to bowl at thunderous pace and had a great heart too which is so important for a fast bowler. But just like so many other pacers from the Caribbean, he perhaps was mismanaged.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Ravindra Jadeja knighted by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II

India’s win over England in 2nd Test at Lord’s: Twitter reactions

Ishant Sharma pummels England into submission as India clinch Lord’s Test by 95 runs

Ishant Sharma registers name at Lord’s honours board, takes 6 wickets in 2nd Test against England

Bhuvneshwar Kumar England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma MS Dhoni South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

Sri Lanka to look for new coaching staff

MS Dhoni better wicketkeeeper than what he showed at Lord’s: Farokh Engineer

Sachin Tendulkar: Century at Perth in 1992 against Australia changed my career

Ishant Sharma latest to feature in Amul’s ad after India’s win in 2nd Test against England

Hashim Amla lauds Imran Tahir ahead of Sri Lanka vs South Africa second Test at Colombo

India vs England 3rd Test at The Ageas bowl: A sneak peek into England squad

Mohammad Irfan hopes Pakistani players will play in IPL

Stuart Binny and the selection conundrum for India’s third Test against England at Southampton

Can America be the ‘Land of Opportunity’ for cricket?

Graham Gooch’s fabulous numbers in all forms of cricket

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Did Lionel Messi really consider moving to Arsenal?

Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor cheat their diets while shooting for Singham Returns!

Malaysia airlines MH 17: Black boxes arrive in Britain for analysis

After Amala Paul, will Nazriya Nazim quit films after marriage?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here