Flashback: When Gordon Greenidge left his innings incomplete to tend to his sick daughter

Flashback: When Gordon Greenidge left his innings incomplete to tend to his sick daughter

There comes a time in everybody's lives when one's achievements, no matter how big, are shrouded by a pall of grief owing to some personal tragedy.

Gordon Greenidge
Gordon Greenidge. (Photo Source: Twitter)

There comes a time in everybody’s lives when one’s achievements, no matter how big, are shrouded by a pall of grief owing to some personal tragedy. While coping with such distressing situations is equally hard for every single person inflicted with the pain of losing near and dear ones, the impact of such disasters in a sportsman’s life is mind-numbing to even think of, considering the vast amount of concentration that goes into constructing one’s game. Veteran West Indies batsman, Gordon Greenidge bears testimony to having been at the receiving end of such a tumultuous period in his life while he was batting at his finest.

Several cricketers have had to overcome the deepest of griefs while they’ve been involved in the proceedings of an ongoing match. Be it Virat Kohli coming out onto the crease to bat for Delhi against the Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy the morning after his father’s death or Sachin Tendulkar flying back to England to play for his country in the 1999 ICC World Cup days after his father passed away, there have been numerous instances of tragedy striking cricketers in the course of the game. Back in 1983, it was Greenidge who had to abandon the knock of his life to tend to his ailing daughter back in Barbados.

Scored his highest ever score of 154 against India

Playing against India at St. John’s, Antigua, the West Indies side boasted of some of the biggest names in the history of cricket like Malcolm Marshall, Desmond Haynes, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts. Riding on two 90+ scores from Kapil Dev and Dilip Vengsarkar, India had put up 457 runs on the board. As reported in an article in the Indian Express, Haynes and Greenidge had not scored a Test century in the last seven and eight years respectively. However, this time around it seemed to be their day as they wielded the willow with utmost ferocity on the third day of the Test match.

The Indian bowling had been rendered meek by the absence of Kapil Dev from the bowling attack, owing to a stiff neck. While Haynes was dismissed for a personal score of 136 by Yashpal Sharma, Greenidge continued with his masterful innings. He broke the record of his own highest score in Tests when he reached 134 and batted on beautifully to end the day at a personal unbeaten score of 154 runs, including 14 boundaries and a lone six. At stumps, the spectators would’ve been sure of Gordon Greenidge getting to his maiden double ton on April 30, 1983. But it was not to be.

Greenidge was the first cricketer to be “Retired Not Out”

When both teams took the field on the following day, onlookers were confused to see the legendary Sir Vivian Richards at the crease with previous day’s night-watchman, Winston Davis. Tragedy had stuck Greenidge overnight as he’d had to fly back to Barbados to tend to his two-year-old daughter, Ria Greenidge who’d been diagnosed with a critical kidney infection. The prolific West Indian cricketer had to bear the sorrow of an anguished father and that of an unsatiated cricketer at the same instant; a sorrow none of us can ever comprehend in the slightest. Greenidge became the first cricketer in the history of the game to be “Retired Not Out”.

West Indies eventually emerged victorious in the match and Gordon Greenidge was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’. However, neither was he there to receive the award nor was he in the state of mind to be jubilant. His little daughter’s condition worsened with each passing hour and she passed away two days after the conclusion of the Test match. Greenidge described this period as a “grey area of my career and life” in his later interviews.

The cricketer, however, proved the indomitable spirit that he possessed when he came out to bat for Hampshire against Worcestershire at Southampton just 20 days after the incident and scored 116 in the successful fourth innings chase in the match. In the following years, Greenidge turned his sorrow into his strength and played the best knocks of his lifetime, accruing 1,197 runs at the average of 63 with 5 hundreds in 16 Tests till the summer of 1984.