Gilchrist was one of the fastest bowlers produced by the West Indies    Getty Images
Gilchrist was one of the fastest bowlers produced by the West Indies Getty Images

Roy Gilchrist, born on June 28, 1934, was one of the fastest bowlers produced by the West Indies. Gilchrist played only 13 Tests and 42 First-Class matches, but had made a name for himself as a fearsome paceman. However, his ferocity did not limit to his bowling as his temperament eventually ended his international career. He died on July 18, 2001 in Jamaica. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 10 facts about Gilchrist.

1. Tough upbringing

Gilchrist was born in Jamaica and lived in a sugar plantation as a young boy. Many historical records suggest that he grew up in tough circumstances before becoming a cricketer.

2. Average height

Gilchrist was only 5 8 , which is an average height at best. Most fast bowlers are six footers or taller. When compared to some of the other West Indian pacers around, Gilchrist was certainly short, but it did not make a difference as he bowled frighteningly quick.

3. Test call-up after only four First-Class matches

Gilchrist made his First-Class debut at the age of 22 during the 1956-57 season. In his maiden season, he took 14 wickets in four matches at an average of 42.64. They weren’t exactly impressive figures, but his spell of five for 110 against the Duke of Norfolk s XI helped him win a spot on the Test tour to England in 1957.

4. Hanif Mohammad s nemesis

The Original Little Master made quite a name for himself during Pakistan s tour to the West Indies in 1958, when he batted long for his innings of 337. However, on that tour, he also ran into the in-form Roy Gilchrist, who dismissed him five times in five Tests. During that tour, Clyde Walcott told the young Hanif that he should not try to hook or pull Gilchrist as he was too fast. In his column for PTI, Hanif recalled one particular delivery from Gilchrist, I was never a ducker, so I started to sway in and out of line before I saw a short delivery head for that space between my eyes. I instinctively bent myself in an arch to the extent that my head nearly knocked off the bails! The ball whistled past the upturned nose. I still made 80 but that delivery still sends the shiver down my spine.

5. Mastering India

Gilchrist toured India in 1958-59 and mastered them in the Tests. In the four Tests he featured in, he accounted for 26 wickets at an average of 16.11. His pace was causing some serious problems to the batsmen during that tour. During that series, he had shattered Vijay Manjrekar s arm, and hit AG Kripal Singh s turban while bowling a big no-ball. His over-aggressive fast bowling was criticised by many, including the West Indies skipper Gerry Alexander.

6. Best figures in Test cricket and India s biggest defeat

During the third Test at Calcutta (as Kolkata was known then), Gilchrist took six for 55 in the second innings to help West Indies win. He finished the match with a total of nine wickets. Those remain his best figures in a Test match. India lost the game by an innings and 336 runs, which remains their worst defeat in Test cricket.

7. The ignominious exit

With Gerry Alexander criticising Gilchrist, the paceman did not stop his barrage and continued to torment batsmen with his intimidating bowling. During the match against North Zone, Gilchrist and Swaranjit Singh, the opposition captain, had a go at each other. Gilchrist was provoked into bowling his intimidating stuff, which included a beamer. This despite Alexander telling him not to. Ultimately, Alexander had enough and expelled Gilchrist from the team. That was the end of his Test career. He was only 24-years-old.

8. Club cricket and residence in England

Although his international career was over, Gilchrist played a lot of club cricket in England. He played for Bacup and Lowerhouse in the Lancashire League. Later, he played for Crompton in the Central Lancashire League. He lived in England with his family until the 1980s, before returning to Jamaica.

9. The Indian experience

During the 1962-63 season, Gilchrist was invited to India to play domestic cricket. During his stint in India, he played for many sides. Among the side were MA Chidambaram s XI, Bombay Chief Minister s XI, Indian Prime Minister s XI, Uttar Pradesh Governor s XI, Andhra Chief Minister s XI and the Indian Board President s XI. He also played the Ranji Trophy quarter-final for Hyderabad against Bengal, where he took nine wickets in the match. That tour was the last time Gilchrist played First-Class cricket.

10. Parkinson s and final days

Gilchrist passed away at the age of 67 in 2001 in Jamaica due to Parkinson s disease.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)

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