Larry Gomes    Getty Images
Larry Gomes Getty Images

Bad food can make people do things they normally would not. Something similar happened to Larry Gomes on February 24, 1974. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back on a bizarre dismissal.

Their army of fast bowlers (equipped by an endless supply chain) made West Indies of the 1970s and 1980s perhaps the most intimidating side in history. There was also Viv Richards to add to the aura of the side. There was also the authoritative Clive Lloyd and the brooding Gordon Greenidge, both ruthless in their own ways. Indeed, the side was full of characters so colourful that champions like Desmond Haynes and Jeff Dujon often went unnoticed.

Larry Gomes was a near-misfit in that side. He was not a strokeplayer who set the field on fire with brutal drives and pulls. He did not even look aggressive. However, he delivered when it mattered, as his batting averages of 70.33 in Australia and 51.37 in England will testify. Quiet, steady and solid, he became a regular in the Test side till Richie Richardson came along.

It was unlikely that a man of such demeanour will lose temper, but that was precisely what happened in a 1973-74 Texaco Cup.

The Texaco Cup was a knock-out tournament involving four teams from Trinidad East, North, South, and Central. No, there was no West Trinidad in the tournament; a close look at the map may give one an idea why.

The first day at Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground, St Augustine was keenly contested. East Trinidad were skittled out for 130 by Chinaman bowler Inshan Ali and off-spinner Rangy Nanan men who never fit into Lloyd s plans despite doing decent jobs in domestic cricket.

Gomes, barely out of his teens, top-scored with a gutsy 39; he would play many of these in future.

Central Trinidad finished the day on 87 for 5. They recovered well the next day. Captain Narine Ragoo got 73 and wicketkeeper Gopaul Sahadeo 64. And Inshan, batting at 10, frustrated East Trinidad with a dogged 38. Central Trinidad reached 271.

The first three East Trinidad batsmen all fell for ducks. They were left in tatters at stumps, at 27 for 4, Desmond Baptiste claiming three of them. Gomes was still around, as was Prince Bartholomew (his name was Prince), his captain.

There was little action before lunch on the next day. A mere 4 runs were added. Then the players left for lunch.

Unfortunately, he did not find the food to his taste. The exact menu (or taste of the food) is not very clear, but it certainly was not good enough for Gomes consumption. The organisers were perhaps inspired by the theory followed by the Roman army: don t feed them well, and they will perpetually remain in a foul mood and take it out on the enemy.

Gomes simply left the ground to find food elsewhere. You cannot blame him. Many a quiet person takes his meals seriously, and can lose temper when the food served to him is, by his opinion, substandard. Most of us have been acquainted with one or more of these people.

Unfortunately, he either did not find a nearby eatery or he took too much time to finish his meal. Whatever it was, he was not around when the umpires, fielders, and Bartholomew were all ready for resumption.

What was to be done? After some consultation, the umpires decided to rule Gomes retired out . By the time Gomes was available, Imtiaz Ali had already joined Bartholomew.

As for the match, Inshan ran through the lower order, and East Trinidad were bowled out for 91 and lost by an innings.

Brief scores:

East Trinidad 130 (Inshan Ali 6 for 48) and 91 (Desmond Baptiste 3 for 15, Inshan Ali 4 for 19) lost to Central Trinidad 271 (Narine Ragoo 73, Gopaul Sahadeo 64; H Francis 3 for 65) by an innings and 50 runs.