Collis King: 10 lesser-known facts about the rebel who succeeded when it mattered most
A lower middle-order batsman and a medium-fast bowler, Collis King was a utility all-rounder for the teams he featured for.
Collis King Getty Images
Born June 11, 1951, Collis Llewellyn King is a former West Indian cricketer who played 9 Tests and 18 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for his team between 1976 and 1980. A lower middle-order batsman and a medium-fast bowler, King was a utility all-rounder for the teams he featured for. The most startling highlight of his brief career was when he overshadowed Viv Richards in the 1979 World Cup final with his clean striking. His career went downhill when he joined the World Series Cricket and later turned rebellious by deciding to travel to South Africa on a rebel tour. On his birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 10 facts from the life of the cricketer, who became king for a day and helped West Indies become world champs.
1. Early life
King was born in Fairview, Christ Church, Barbados, where he was raised and learned his cricket. His father was a foreman at a sugar factory.
2. Test debut
King was one of the only three batsmen to get into double digits in the first innings of his Test debut. West Indies were reeling at 4 for 26 when King walked in to join Gordon Greenidge (134). He scored a confident 32 in his maiden innings and added 111 runs with Greenidge for the fifth wicket. Eventually, West Indies could manage just 211 and the last man Wayne Daniel was the third and final player to get into double digits with his effort of 10 runs.
3. Lucky mascot
King proved to be a lucky mascot for his team, as West Indies lost only one of the nine Tests and five of the 18 ODIs he played.
4. King for a day!
On June 23, 1979, Collis truly turned into a king for a day as he overshadowed Richards batting in the World Cup final. When he walked out to bat, West Indies were tottering at 4 for 99. Richards was still at the other end, but it was the last recognised batting pair for the Caribbean side. Sensing the urgency of the situation, Richards walked up to his junior and said: Hey man, take it easy... we have plenty of time." King, who was in no mood for small talk, replied: "Smokey, I ain't gonna let Geoffrey [Boycott] get this, man. In the league there would be no mercy, so why should this be any different?"
What happened next was something no one could imagine, as the usually merciless Richards was reduced to being a mute spectator of King s onslaught. The Bajan went ballistic and hammered English bowlers all around the park. In no time, he plundered 86 off 66 balls, a special knock which had 10 fours and three sixes. By the time he was dismissed on the team score of 238, West Indies had pocketed the match. Richards remained unbeaten on 138 and West Indies won the game by 92 runs. Even as he won the player of the match award, he himself acknowledged the impact of King s innings of the match.
5. The rebel
King never played for West Indies after 1980 as he participated in the unsanctioned World Series Cricket, and later a step taken by him in January 1983 effectively ended his career with the team. He was one of the 18 cricketers from the Caribbean to travel to South Africa and take part in the unofficial Test series. Though his side won the Test series 2-1, ODI series 4-2 as well as hearts of the crowds, its players were banned for life back home. Barring the exception of Ezra Moseley the only one of the rebels who got a chance to play for West Indies, no other player, including King, ever played for West Indies again.
6. Coll is King
Though King could manage just a solitary hundred in his overall 27 appearances for West Indies, he did manage one more during the unofficial Johannesburg Test against South Africa on the rebel tour. Such classy was his knock of 101 that it prompted four young (white) fans to charge on to the field of play carrying a banner that read Coll is King .
7. Move to England
Banned for life from participating in all forms of the game, King moved to England and played huge amount of County cricket by representing Glamorgan and Worcestershire.
In 1983, King scored 123 on his Worcestershire debut. In doing so, he became the first cricketer in over fifty years to score a hundred in his first match for the County. He even went on to play First-Class cricket in South Africa for its provincial side Natal.
9. Collis King Award
In 2011, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) announced the names of players on whom they were to give awards for the Regional Super 50 competition. In a controversial move, the board included the name of King on its list and decided that the most outstanding all-rounder in the competition will receive the Collis King Award . The move encountered criticism as King was a rebel during his playing days and had opted to take part in the rebel tour.
10. Ageless cricketer
Age never played any part in King s career, as he continued to play his beloved sport well beyond the usual retirement age . At 56, he was representing the Lashings world XI and at 58, he was participating in the Cricket Legends of Barbados Cup . More recently, aged 61, he turned out for Yorkshire side Dunnington Cricket Club (DCC). In May 2013, according to The Press, King notched his 25th premier division century and his 46th hundred in York & District Senior Cricket League.