Gerry Alexander    Getty Images
Gerry Alexander Getty Images

There were many cricketers greater than Franz Copeland Murray Gerry Alexander, born November 2, 1928, but few as gutsy on either side of the stumps, and a mere handful as patient and resilient. The last white man to lead West Indies, Alexander took over the mantle amidst controversies but established himself firmly at the top, standing down gracefully when Frank Worrell replaced him following a one-sided media war inflicted by CLR James. Abhishek Mukherjee recollects the career of one of the most crucial names during the transition in West Indian cricket.

Brisbane, December 14, 1960.

Fortune had kept changing course throughout the day at The Gabba. Set 233, Australia ran into Wes Hall, and were reduced to 92 for 6. Most teams would have settled for a draw, but captain Richie Benaud made it clear to Don Bradman at tea that they would be going for a win.

What followed is something every basic cricket fan knows by heart: Benaud complemented Alan Davidson beautifully. Davidson added 80 to his first-innings 44 (and 11 wickets). Australia needed only 7 from 10 balls when Davidson was run out almost miraculously by Joe Solomon.

West Indies claimed Benaud, but a missed run out and a spilled catch brought the target down to 3 from 3 balls. Hall steamed in.

Ian Meckiff hoicked one towards leg and the pair of them ran as if their lives depended on it. They ran a first and second as Conrad Hunte gave it the chase. On most days it would have made it to the fence, but the ground had not been mown after a morning shower. The grass on the western side of the ground, studded with clover flowers, slowed the ball down.

Hunte picked up and threw the ball. It was a spectacular throw, the trajectory flat, the power incredible. Had it been on top of the stumps Grout would have stood no chance despite his full-length dive; it did not.

To make things worse, the throw came from the western end of the ground in the last hour of sunlight. The trajectory of the throw made it more difficult for the wicketkeeper. Most would have found it impossible to see, but Gerry Alexander was no ordinary man.

Benaud later recalled in A Tale of Two Tests: The throw from Hunte was superb, but it was flat and fast, and Alexander was looking into the sun as he prepared to try for the run-out of Wally Grout. He gathered the ball and hurled himself into the stumps to achieve the dismissal, part of an extraordinary piece of cricket.

It all came down to who dived first. Had Grout sealed it for Australia? Or had Alexander kept the match alive?

They sat on the edges of their seats, all eyes on leg-umpire Col Egar, time coming to a standstill; then Egar raised his finger.

Australia could still have won, but it was only fitting that they did not: the Test perhaps the greatest of them all and the first in the most famous series in history deserved to end in a tie.

Alexander contributed with 3 catches and that run out. He conceded 4 byes in almost 200 eight-ball overs to Hall as well as Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. He also scored 60 in the first innings. He played a role as crucial as anyone else s.

In the series he scored 484 runs at 60.50. His average was the highest from either side. For West Indies, Rohan Kanhai (50.30) came next. He went past the fifty-mark 6 times, once again the most in the series. And only Norman O Neill (522) and Kanhai (503) scored more runs, despite the fact that Alexander batted at Nos. 7 and 8 throughout the series, earning a promotion to No. 6 in only his last outing.

He emerged as an unlikely hero, signing off with 108, 63*, 87*, 11, and 73. He also scored a fifty in every Test of the series, becoming the first wicketkeeper to do so; the feat has been emulated only by Brad Haddin, in Ashes 2013-14.

The hundred at Sydney, the only one of his First-Class career, came from No. 8 and off 190 balls. He lifted West Indies from 166 for 7 to 326 in the company of Gibbs, Hall, and Valentine, none of whom had serious reputation with bat. It was the only Test West Indies won in the series.

In the following Test, at Adelaide, he became the first wicketkeeper to score two unbeaten fifties in a Test. Wriddhiman Saha is the only other cricketer to have done this.

Alexander also had 16 dismissals, all catches. He conceded a bye every 30 eight-ball overs. He was the vice-captain of the side. As a former captain his inputs were invaluable, as were his insights that came as a result of his second role behind the stumps. At 32 he had several years ahead of him.

And yet, that was his final Test series. He did not even play First-Class cricket after the tour. His record stood at 3,239 runs at 29.18, 217 catches, and 39 stumpings from 92 matches. Of these 25 were Tests, which fetched him 961 runs at 30.03, 85 catches, and 5 stumpings. Of West Indians with 25 or more Tests, Alexander has the most dismissals per innings (1.914).

He batted with minimum fuss. He was more correct than breathtaking, his runs coming mostly off loose balls that he needed he could score off without risks.

Behind the stumps he was another man. In wicket-keeping the West Indies could not really claim parity before the days of Gerry Alexander to pace, noted Michael Manley in A History of West Indies Cricket.

In his autobiography Hit Me for Six Roy Gilchrist a man with whom Alexander was never on the best of terms wrote of his wicketkeeper: There was also the wicket-keeping of Gerry Alexander that puts him on top of all West Indian stumpers; wicket-keeping that was so good that he did not even need a first slip to bowlers as fast as Wes and me! He went down so often in that position, fair and square on his right arm, that he had to leave the field several times to get the red-raw flesh dressed…

He also led in 18 of these Tests, but more of that later.

From Wolmer s to Wembley

Frank Copeland Murray Alexander resembled an uncle called Gerald. The name Gerry stuck with him since childhood. Being the part of a well-to-do white family in Jamaica came with its privileges when Gerry was a child.

He went to Wolmer s School, that Kingston school that has curiously produced 6 Test wicketkeepers Ivan Barrow, Karl Nunes, Alexander, Jackie Hendriks, Jeff Dujon, and Carlton Baugh. The school has also given the world Allan Rae, Patrick Patterson, and Gareth Breese, but 6 wicketkeepers must be a world record of some sort.

Alexander later went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge an institution renowned for its galaxy of Nobel laureates, the most renowned of whom were James Chadwick, Howard Florey, and Francis Crick.

He won his blues in both cricket and football. He kept wickets for the undergraduates in 1952 and 1953 and for Cambridgeshire in the Minor Counties Championship in the two seasons after that. Though he scored 99 against Nottinghamshire before hitting a full-toss to mid-on, the maiden century remained elusive.

His finest performance during this period came against a strong Oxford side, in 1953, with an injured hand. Cambridge won a low-scoring match in which Alexander top-scored with 31 in the first innings and held 5 catches (including Cowdrey s).

His football career seemed at least as promising at this stage, if not more. He played for Pegasus Association FC, and was a part of their 1952-53 FA Amateur Cup-winning side. He switched to Corinthian-Casuals FC, for whom he played in the 1955-56 final.

When Great Britain took on Bulgaria on in an Olympic Qualifier on May 12, 1956 at Wembley, Alexander was a part of the host side. The match was drawn 3-3, which meant that Bulgaria went through on 5-3 aggregate.

Alexander was thus a double international, that too for separate countries.

Standby to Kanhai

In March 1957 Alexander got selected for a Jamaican team that played twice against a touring Duke of Norfolk s XI. He did not do a lot with bat, but effected 10 dismissals. These were his only matches for Jamaica before the English summer of 1957.

Alexander s obituary in The Telegraph mentions him adding 134 with Hall in a trial match. It was probably how he got picked on the tour. The decision met with significant opposition on the grounds of racism. Many believed that West Indies had several better glovemen at that stage, including Hendriks, Alfred Binns, Clifford McWatt, and Clairmonte Depeiaza.

None of them made the tour. West Indies, led by John Goddard, had the uncapped Kanhai as reserve wicketkeeper. They were probably too overconfident of an encore of 1957. Kanhai kept wickets in the first 3 Tests.

Peter Richardson has put this one away, but Gerry Alexander is in perfect position    Getty Images
Peter Richardson has put this one away, but Gerry Alexander is in perfect position Getty Images

West Indies bowled out England for 186 in the first Test at Edgbaston, Ramadhin taking 7 for 49. The tourists then responded with 474 before reducing England to 113 for 3. The writing was on the wall. Then Peter May (285*) and Cowdrey changed the course of the series with their historic 411-run stand, but West Indies got away with a draw.

West Indies were swept aside at Lord s by an innings, Trevor Bailey taking 11 wickets and Cowdrey amassing 152. Time ran out for England at Trent Bridge after Fred Trueman took 9 wickets and Tom Graveney slammed 258; chasing 121 they finished on 64 for 1.

The series was live when Alexander made his debut in the fourth Test at Headingley. England folded for 279, but that was enough for them to win by an innings after Peter Loader s hat-trick and 9 wickets. Alexander failed with bat, though he took 3 catches.

He got a pair at The Oval, where Tony Lock took 11 for 48 to skittle out West Indies for 89 and 86. England had been able to shrug aside the ghosts of 1950. Down with influenza, Goddard did not bat in either innings; he would not play another Test.

Alexander played 20 matches on the tour, aggregating 387 runs at 19.35 and 48 victims. Barring his 32* and 52 against Gloucestershire and 83 against Leicestershire he did little of note. There were notions that he was often clueless while keeping wickets to Ramadhin. It was a career as good as over.

And yet, Alexander s next First-Class match was as captain of West Indies.

A crown out of nowhere

The transition of Jamaica towards Independence had started soon after World War II got over. Norman Manley had been appointed Prime Minister in 1955. The West Indian Federation was formed on January 3, 1958, three days before Pakistan s tour of West Indies went underway.

There was an obvious push (and rightly so) towards the appointment of Frank Worrell once Goddard retired. Alexander had not done anything of note on the England tour. There was really no reason to retain him in the side.

Tom Graveney sets off for a run as Clyde Walcott (first slip) and Gerry Alexander look on blankly    Getty Images
Tom Graveney sets off for a run as Clyde Walcott (first slip) and Gerry Alexander look on blankly Getty Images

Unfortunately, Worrell opted out of the home series and went back to Manchester University to obtain his degree. Despite their availabilities neither Everton Weekes nor Clyde Walcott was considered for reasons unclear, just like former captain Denis Atkinson.

Exactly why the selectors chose Alexander is not clear. Some cite his skin tone as a reason. This sounds bizarre, given that they were willing to accept the black Worrell as a leader. A backward step made little sense.

When Alexander walked out to toss, he was the newest cricketer of the side barring the two debutants, Hunte and Denis Atkinson s brother Eric.

Alexander s first Test as captain was a historic one. He declared on 579 for 9 before unleashing Roy Gilchrist. Pakistan were bowled out for 106 on the third morning of the six-day Test. Then Hanif Mohammad batted for over 16 hours…

Alexander had 5 catches and a stumping in the match. Gilchrist s pace and Collie Smith s all-round brilliance won the Port-of-Spain Test for him. He himself came to the forefront with 26 and 57.

Garry Sobers slammed 365* and Hunte 260 in the next Test, at Alexander s hometown Kingston, Alexander taking 6 catches in the massive win. Sobers took two hundreds in the next Test as Lance Gibbs chipped in with wickets. Pakistan found solace in a win in the dead-rubber Test, but by then Alexander had firmly established himself as the man to take West Indies cricket to the next level.

Through patience, skill and encouragement, Alexander succeeded in forging the array of talent in the West Indies side into a coherent and successful team, wrote The Telegraph.

The Gilchrist saga

Alexander was appointed captain for the twin tours of India and Pakistan that followed. The new-ball pair of Gilchrist and young Wes Hall was undoubtedly the most lethal West Indies had since Manny Martindale and Learie Constantine. On the other hand, the Tests were their first post-War Tests without any of the three Ws.

Both Gilchrist and Hall were extremely fast and intimidating, but there was a difference. Hall, for all his aggression and pace, largely aimed for the wicket. Not so for Gilchrist, who hurled beamers, often after overstepping deliberately, definitely going for the heads and not wickets.

Between them Gilchrist (26 wickets at 16) and Hall (30, at 18) wreaked havoc on the Indian pitches. Jaswick Taylor, Sobers, and Smith all of whom bowled seam at various paces got another 24 between them, at 28.

The Indians had problems of their own. They appointed 4 captains for the 5 Tests. West Indies won the series 3-0. But Alexander was not happy with the way Gilchrist bowled.

Had it been the soft Goddard there might have been no issue. Worrell or Lloyd would probably have found a way, as Michael Manley suggested.

Alexander was different. He was curt and authoritative in his own way. He was annoyed with those deliberate beamers. He had warned his fast bowlers Hall, Gilchrist, and Taylor before the first Test: I don t want to see any more [beamers]. They re too dangerous.

Gilchrist did not like being restricted. He later wrote: Alexander, I felt, had treated me like a schoolma am treats a first-term boy, and I was certainly no first-term boy.

Gilchrist did send down a few beamers during the Test series. Alexander chose to ignore them. Then came the match against North Zone at Amritsar, the last of the Indian leg of the tour. Alexander played the match as a specialist batsman while Hendriks kept wickets.

The tourists were in for a rude shock. Dattu Phadkar and Narain Swamy bowled unchanged to bowl them out for 76 in a mere 22 overs. It was then Gilchrist s turn to bowl through, while Gibbs replaced Hunte after one over. The pair bowled throughout the 24-over North Zone innings, restricting them to 59. Kanhai then carved out 79, which helped the tourists set 246.

Leading North Zone was Swaranjit Singh, a friend of Alexander s from his Cambridge days. Gilchrist and Swaranjit were not on the best of terms. Gilchrist, keen on revenge, had clean bowled Swaranjit for 1 in the first innings, while Swaranjit himself took 4 for 68 in the West Indies second innings.

North Zone were 77 for 4 when last day s play started. The first session passed without much ado. Then Alexander summoned Gilchrist for the last over before lunch.

Swaranjit ducked at the first ball, a bouncer. Gilchrist pitched the next ball up, and Swaranjit hit him back for four. It would have been fine, had he not taken a couple of steps down the wicket and asked You like that one? Beautiful, was not it?

The inevitable happened. I let him have a scorcher of a beamer just about the fastest ball I had ever let rip in my life, Gilchrist recalled. The batsman was not happy, but more crucially, Alexander was approaching his breaking point as well.

Swaranjit fended the next ball, and Alexander dropped it at short-leg. A fuming Gilchrist sent down two more beamers that did not miss the batsman s face by much.

The players walked off for lunch. Alexander approached Swaranjit during the break and asked whether he could substitute Gilchrist for the rest of the match. Swaranjit was only too happy to oblige. At this stage Gilchrist asked Alexander whether he could stay on but not bowl, but the decision had been made.

Gilchrist was summoned after the match by a committee. Alexander was present, as were John Holt, Ramadhin, and tour manager Bert Gaskin. Alexander s words were short but sufficient: Gilchrist, you don t go to Pakistan. You leave by the next plane for home. Good afternoon.

The youngsters, Kanhai, Hall, and Hunte, approached Alexander, asking him to consider for one final time, but there was no change of mind. There were rumours that Gilchrist had pulled a knife on Alexander, but there is no supporting evidence.

Years later, Gilchrist admitted in his book: Conrad and Co. could not get Alexander to change his mind, and I guess he was right. Being a tour captain is not a child s job; a skipper has to be tough when it comes to discipline, and Alexander was just that when it came to my case. And I suppose now, on reflection, that it served me right.

The West Indian media took a different view on this. They did not accept that a black country man of humble backgrounds was sent home by a white, privileged, Cambridge-educated man. Even Gilchrist, while acknowledging Alexander s decision, could not help but think while fellows knew me as Roy Gilchrist, or Gilly, everyone seemed to regard Gerry as Mr F. C. M. Alexander, Cambridge University and West Indies.

Things were not the same without Gilchrist on the matting wickets of Pakistan. Hanif scored a hundred and Fazal Mahmood took 7 wickets in a Pakistan win at Karachi. Fazal was at it again at Dacca, with 6 for 34 and 6 for 66. None of the last 6 West Indian batsmen in their first-innings total of 76 got off the mark.

Some respite came at Lahore, thanks to Kanhai s 217. By now Alexander, always the general to go first in a battle, opened batting. Pakistan lost by an innings. Alexander and West Indies lost the series 1-2, but they had at least become the first team to beat Pakistan at their den.

Beyond a boundary

Worrell was back by the time England toured West Indies next season, but there was really no reason for the board to remove Alexander, and status quo was maintained. England won the 5-Test series 1-0, with the usual suspects Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Ken Barrington, Fred Trueman, and Brian Statham all succeeding. West Indies found stars in Sobers and Worrell, while both Ramadhin and Hall did decently.

Amidst all this, Alexander had 22 catches and a stumping to his name. His 23 dismissals was a West Indian record at that time; it has been bettered by only David Murray (24) and equalled by only Dujon.

All should have been well, had some not chosen to interfere with cricket. Despite the fact that Alexander had done little wrong as captain, a section of the West Indian intelligentsia preferred Worrell as captain.

Things took a serious turn after Alexander declared in the first Test with Worrell on 197, though it should be mentioned here that Worrell, 177 overnight, had scored a mere 20 in 130 minutes before the declaration came.

CLR James wrote a letter to the Editor of The Nation (Trinidad) asking him to campaign for Alexander s removal and Worrell s appointment as captain.

James tone is worth a mention here: I want to say clearly that the idea of Alexander captaining a side on which Frank Worrell is playing is to me quite revolting. Whatever the result of this series I shall mobilise everything I can so that Frank should captain the team to Australia. In 1957 during the tour in England I endured the long days of misery which need not have been. To send to Australia as captain in 1960 a man who has never been here before would be a betrayal. Show me one individual who will come out and say I believe Alexander will be a better captain than Worrell for such and such reasons . No one will dare … if Frank was not appointed it will be over wide and public protest … that Worrell was not captain in 1957 in England was a scandal known to everybody. I shall go into detail as to the mischief this kind of thing causes. I have kept silence for 25 years. I shall do no longer.

More followed: I hereby give notice that I shall not let this question rest. Even if Alexander is appointed captain for Australia that will not stop me … If he is selected, I shall do my damnedest to see that Alexander is stood down for captaincy for the first Test … The Board should know that the eyes of the world are upon them. Yes, the eyes of the world. Not to select Worrell would be an act of war.

There are two things to be noted here. First, while James mentioned Worrell s omission in 1957, he completely missed out on the point that Worrell had decided to opt out of the duties when he was initially appointed captain. And secondly, the generous use of the pronoun I in the entire passage, which makes it seem that James vendetta was more personal than for a cause.

But then, I am probably not eligible to criticise a man so universally celebrated in the world.

Two days after the Test The Nation ran a headline Alexander Must Go, Make Worrell Captain.

Alan Ross was one of those who saw the injustice of it all. He lashed back in Through the Caribbean: The MCC Tour of the West Indies, 1959 1960: Who but a malicious xenophobe could write, during a Test match that the idea of Alexander captaining a side on which Frank Worrell is playing is to me quite revolting? Revolting is the parlance of the irresponsible agitator. Worrell s great gifts as a player, his intelligence and charm, and no doubt his capacity for leadership, cannot benefit from such advocacy.

As was often the case, James got his way, and Alexander was replaced as captain.

Of course, James was standing for the right cause, but he could have done that without being critical (and that is an understatement) of the otherwise perfectly acceptable Alexander, more so during a Test. Perhaps Ross missed the point altogether. But then, Ross probably cared for the sport too much…

Hendriks, the man many thought should have been preferred to Alexander for that ill-fated 1957 tour, later told Jamaica Observer: They treated Gerry terribly. I know people had good reasons, but they could have conducted their campaign without being unfair to Gerry and they were grossly unfair. They gave him no credit for what he did as a great servant of West Indies cricket and a very good captain.

James came up with an assortment of poor reasoning and semi-apologies in Beyond a Boundary: It was hard on Alexander. He was not a good captain and in any case he was keeping wicket, which is no place for a captain. But it was hard on me also. Alexander is a fine soccer player, he kept wicket magnificently, he is a good defensive bat and is a hard fighter. I put my scruples aside and I think that for the first, and I hope the last, time in reporting cricket I was not fair. But I was determined to rub in the faces of everybody that Frank Worrell, the last of the three W s, was being discriminated against.

Exactly why soccer was relevant here is not very clear. While there is no doubt that there was discrimination against the black population, James makes it sound as if the injustice was against Worrell the person. But then, he has mentioned he was not fair .

Let us check some facts. Was Alexander really an ordinary captain? He led West Indies for 18 consecutive Tests, winning 7 and losing 4. Put a 15-Test restriction, and his win-loss ratio of 1.75 is next to only those of Viv Richards (3.38), Clive Lloyd (3), Worrell (3), and Richie Richardson (1.83). In other words, Alexander was the most successful captain West Indies had in the pre-Worrell era.

But there was more to him than that. Four of Alexander s wins came without the Ws. In fact, he did not have Weekes after his first series as captain, and did not have Worrell till before his last. He was given a side full of youngsters, albeit an extremely talented bunch. He started building the side, a job later magnificently improved upon by Worrell and carried forward by Sobers till the next slump happened.

The dismissed captain had taken over a side in total disarray and laid the foundations for future triumphs, summarised The Telegraph. After the shambles of the 1957 tour of England under Goddard, Alexander began to remould the side, building back the discipline and morale. He lost to England in the West Indies in 1960, but handed over a much improved side to Worrell for the 1960-61 tour of Australia, wrote Michael Manley.

As for wicketkeepers not making good captains, one may put forward the argument that Karl Nunes, West Indies first Test captain, kept wickets. If one goes back in time and past the West Indian boundaries, Jack Blackham and Percy Sherwell both made decent captains. In later years, Alec Stewart, Andy Flower, MS Dhoni, and more recently, Mushfiqur Rahim, have not done too poorly either.

True, Worrell was a superior captain and perhaps the greatest ambassador the sport has seen. However, when he replaced Alexander, but there was no proof that Worrell would make a greater captain than Alexander; even if that was the case, the difference was not substantial.

After all, 5 of Worrell s 9 wins as captain came in one whitewash against an Indian side hit by a mid-tour life-threatening injury of their captain Nari Contractor; in his other 10 Tests Worrell won 4 and lost 3. Similarly, if one takes those 3 wins against India away from Alexander, his numbers stand at 4 wins and 4 defeats.

In other words, Worrell playing under Alexander was certainly not revolting . Worrell was, without a doubt, a significantly superior cricketer, and in all probability the better leader (not proved at that point).

Michael Manley compared the two as well, albeit in a different tone: Apart from his correct social and racial pedigree, Alexander was a fine player, a brave man and a tough, if not brilliant, leader. On the other hand, Worrell was a genius.

However, James approach was nothing short of jingoism. The attack on a man without any evident fault was uncalled for, and the entire issue could have been approached in a far better manner.

But then, one does not really question the reasoning of a man of James stature. Great men have, over the course of time, thought differently from us mortals.

Alexander s leadership ended in a tone as peculiar at it had started. He had not done anything right to merit the leadership mantle. He had not done anything wrong to deserve being sacked. Did The Board hope he would fail when he was appointed captain so that dismissing him would not come across as wrong? One can only speculate.

The final hurrah

What about the man himself? Alexander did not make a single statement after being sacked. He was offered vice-captaincy. He accepted the role. In many ways this was akin to Javed Miandad stepping aside for Imran Khan when the latter would come out of retirement in 1988; but then, Imran had led Pakistan before

And as mentioned at the beginning of the article, Alexander did brilliantly on either side of the stumps; once again a parallel can be drawn with Miandad, who played out of his skin on the now-iconic West Indies tour where Pakistan almost pulled off a series win.

To quote Manley again, Gerry Alexander publicly accepted Worrell as his leader and publicly extolled his virtues. Both on and off the field he gave the fullest support. Had that been his only contribution it would have deserved the highest praise. As it was he, and all the others, did much more.

He had handled his sack with dignity. And after supporting his friend Worrell in the best way possible, he finally decided to call it quits.

Sobers called him a truly wonderful man whose heart and soul were in West Indies cricket. Sobers would have known, for he featured in every single Test Alexander played.

Davidson, the man who had spent hours bowling at Alexander in that series, lauded the man, mentioning that he upheld all the virtues of cricket and was a pioneer of the wicketkeeper-as-batsman trend. He might have forgotten about Les Ames, though.

He additionally told ESPNCricinfo: He was what you d call a competitor, which lifted his performance enormously. We used to say if we knocked over Conrad Hunte and Kanhai and Sobers and Worrell and everybody, all of a sudden in comes this bloke Alexander. He could’ve batted No. 3 for them, because he was that sort of player. He was a good wicketkeeper as well. Let’s face it, he had to take Wes Hall and then keep to Ramadhin and Valentine and Gibbs and everybody. Gerry was a great mate. We had tremendous respect for them. He was one of the real friends I made out of that tour.

On similar lines, Benaud told Phil Davison of The Independent that Alexander was one of the finest wicketkeeper-batsmen I have ever seen. During the famous, first-ever tied Test match, he was the man we feared with the bat in the bottom half of the order.

Hendriks, the man Alexander had kept out of the side and the reserve wicketkeeper of the same tour, recalled that Gerry supported Frank in every respect.

Easton McMorris, who played Tests under Alexander, recollected: Gerry served West Indies cricket very well, calling him a gentleman of the old school who was very firm on the field.

Alexander went to work for the Agriculture Ministry to work as a veterinary surgeon, rising to Chief Public Sector Veterinarian. On a completely unrelated note, his sister Dorothy married famous poet John Figueroa, the eminent Caribbean poet.

He was President of Kingston Club, and was awarded Jamaica s Order of Distinction in 1982.

In between all this, he managed West Indies to India and Pakistan in 1974-75 in Lloyd s first overseas tour. Lloyd later told his biographer Trevor McDonald: I was lucky on my first tour as captain to have Gerry Alexander as manager. He helped us to get good team discussions going, at times playing devil s advocate to elicit views from the players. It was a good spirit.

One cannot help but think of what could have been, had the transition been smoother.

Gerry Alexander passed away on April 16, 2011, a month after losing his wife Barbara. He was 82, and was survived by two children. His funeral was held at St Peter and Paul Church, St Andrew, two weeks later.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry. He blogs at ovshake.blogspot.com and can be followed on Twitter @ovshake42.)