Home > Features > Moments in history >

Junior Murray: One of West Indies’ wicketkeepers who tried to fill the void left by Jeffrey Dujon

Junior Murray © Getty Images
Junior Murray © Getty Images

Junior Murray, born on January 20, 1968 came through Caribbean cricket stables during their terminal decline. He had his share of bright moments, but eventually faded away from the scene. Bharath Ramaraj has more.

Ever since the retirement of legendary Jeffrey Dujon, West Indies have struggled to unearth a fine stumper-cum batsman. In the 1990s, Junior Murray from the tiny Island of Grenada was one of those who tried to fill the gaping hole left behind by Dujon, albeit with not much success. He showed flashes of brilliance with the bat and that odd fine catch behind the stumps won him praise, but was too inconsistent. His wicketkeeping was gawky on most occasions and eventually, was jettisoned from the team.

All those years ago in 1987-88, when Barbados still had the likes of Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Virbert Greene playing for them, Murray made his debut and played couple of games for Windward Islands in the Red Stripe Cup against their formidable foes. It was baptism by fire for the wicketkeeper against a quality side, and unmistakably, he struggled to come to grips against Barbados.

In fact, until the 1991-92 season, he was lampooned as one of those also ‘ran in’s the domestic circuit. But during that season, he engineered a remarkable turnaround by raking up runs and averaging close to 48 for Windward Islands. There were still question marks lingering over his wicketkeeping though.

Actually, his fine season with the bat helped Murray to be picked up for the series against Australia, Down Under in 1992-93. After David Williams‘s rather indifferent form in the first two Tests of the series, Murray made his debut at Sydney Cricket Ground in the third Test (SCG). Other than being witness to the Prince of Trinidad, Brian Lara‘s sublime batsmanship, he didn’t have much to do in a high-scoring game.

It was during the see-saw battle at Adelaide in the fourth Test that Murray scored runs in adversity. His knock of 49 in the first innings on a deteriorating track is hardly mentioned, but those runs proved to be worth its weight in gold in a low scoring thriller.

Junior Murray played for the Windies in the 90s, majorly because of lack of competition © Getty Images
Junior Murray played for the Windies in the 90s, majorly because of lack of competition © Getty Images

However, Murray reached noteworthy crusts only in 1994-95 when West Indies toured India and New Zealand, respectively. His rousing charge against India’s spin troika in a losing cause at Mumbai in the first Test of the series in 1994 is one to remember. Next up on the cards, his one and only century at Basin Reserve, Wellington against New Zealand, when he clambered a hapless pace attack gave hope that at least West Indies might have found a decent batsman. He was still prone to making too many errors behind the stumps. But with Courtney Browne and Williams around, he was always going to struggle to cling onto his place. In the series against Australia in 1995, Glenn McGrath took a liking to bowling to Murray. The wicketkeeper-batsman poked and prodded outside his off-stump, and it was a sorry sight to watch Murray going down to giving nice and easy catching practice to slip fielders.

Browne replaced him for the final Test match of that series at Kingston, Jamaica. Even on the subsequent tour of England, both Murray and Browne were fighting for the wicketkeeper’s slot. With just one fifty to his name since that century in New Zealand in 1995, Murray’s days as West Indies‘ No 1 wicketkeeper seemed to be numbered. Finally, South Africa‘s battery of pacers exposed his lack of technique to the hilt in 1998-99 and he was dropped. It shocked everyone when he was recalled from the wilderness for the Test match against India at Port of Spain, Trinidad in 2002. But that turned out to be the last time he wore the white flannels for West Indies.

On a few occasions in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he did make a name for himself with the willow in hand. One of his better knocks came while batting at top of the order against the famed Pakistan attack made up of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed at Adelaide in 1996. His calculated pyrotechnics helped West Indies to crush Pakistan in that game.

It can be argued that Junior Murray played for West Indies in the 1990s, mainly due to a lack of confluence of talent coming through the Caribbean system. But Murray can be proud of the fact that he did play international cricket and that is something most of us can only dream of.

(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

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 2014

Mahela Jayawardene ton takes Sri Lanka to 305/5 on Day 1 of 2nd Test against Sri Lanka

Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma advises him not to play square of wicket

Afghanistan set target of 260 against Zimbabwe in 4th ODI at Bulawayo

India A tour of Australia 2014: Manan Vohra, Mohit Sharma give India A easy win

Mahela Jayawardene scores 11th Test ton at SSC; Sri Lanka 212/3 at tea on Day 1 against South Africa

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

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

Jodha Akbar: Will Jodha lose Akbar’s child?

Apple reportedly prepping a 12-inch MacBook and a 4K Mac for October release

Vir Das feels that Jaane Kyon has been his toughest film so far!

6 benefits of increased Foreign Direct Investment limit in insurance sector

Commonwealth Games 2014: Scotland swimmer Hannah Miley sets new record

ZTE India posts sales of nearly Rs 2,813 crore in FY2013-14

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here