When Kesrick Williams was about 15 and trying to break into age-group tournaments in St Vincent, in the West Indies, he had his first setback at home. For a while, the breakthrough wasn’t happening and even his mother, his mentor as she has played cricket for St Vincent, said: “That’s it, you aren’t going to get money for your cricket now.” In his mind, Williams says, he told himself: “One day you are going to be happy, momma.”
Williams comes from a small place, ‘Spring Village’, on the island of St Vincent and had to travel a bit for his cricket training on weekends. His wasn’t a rich family and he decided to save up the money he would get to travel to school through the week. “I would starve myself for the week, use that money to travel and play cricket on Saturdays,” says Vincent in an interview to a television channel back home. Somehow, despite not getting adequate support in his early years from his cricket association, he preserved to make it on his own.
All through his growing years as a cricketer, he was frequently snubbed by people, who didn’t think much of his skills. “I used all that negativity to feed off. More they talked (negative), the more work I hard.” When he moved to senior circuit, he would leave the training early to catch the van back to the hinterland and that affected his chances. When his father learnt of it, he used his savings to get him a jeep and “people talked negatively, saying, ‘look his first purchase after playing for island is a vehicle; he is so full of himself without realising the reason’. All that motivates me”.
It would be interesting to see how he now rebounds from the latest episode with Virat Kohli. Already, cricketing forums in the Caribbean have dissed him a touch: next time, write a sick note in notebook and such digs.
The world now knows what transpired between Kohli and Williams. In 2017, in a game in Jamaica, Williams had Kohli miscuing a catch and he took out his imaginary notebook from the pocket and scribbled away. Two years later, Kohli has not only remembered that ‘slight’ but decided it was payback time after he played an astonishing drag-scoop-flick, a shot that is worth salivating for ages. Kohli this time did the notebook entry, with a bemused Williams looking on closely.
It’s not the first time Williams had been at the receiving end. Last year, his closest friend in cricket, Chadwick Walton, had done exactly what Kohli did on Friday. First, it was Williams who had done that notebook scribble after taking out Walton’s wicket in a game in the Caribbean Premier League, right in front of the departing batsman’s face.
His friend, who had already told Williams that revenge would be served soon, smashed a few boundaries in the next face-off and proceeded to return the favour. In fact, after one of the fours, Walton even suggested that the notebook was full as he kept flipping imaginary pages to end of it, and signed off on the bat. Williams and Walton are friends (once, in nets, Williams hit Walton on the helmet crest with a bouncer and said, “Merry Christmas”); it would be interesting to see how he reacts to Kohli in future games.
Kohli isn’t the first big batsman to serve out such paybacks on the field over perceived slights. A similar story stars Don Bradman in an exhibition game in club cricket in Sydney. When he had crossed fifty, the opposing captain from Lithgow Pottery cricket team brought on a spinner, Bill Black.
Unsure of what the bowler did, Bradman, playing for Blue Mountains team, enquired from the wicketkeeper, who said, “Don’t you remember this bloke? He bowled you in the exhibition match at Lithgow a few weeks ago and has been boasting about it ever since at your expense.” In that game, even the umpire had reportedly said, “Bill, you got him”, when the stumps were disturbed.
Once he was reminded by the ’keeper, Bradman reportedly shook his head, walked up to his partner Wendell Bill and said, “I think I will have a go”. In the next three overs, he smashed a hundred runs, crashing 33 runs off Black’s first over and 29 off his second. After leaking 62 from 2 overs, Black had to plead his captain to take him off.
Though Bradman would later say that he hadn’t planned it and it “just happened purely by accident”, his peers that time weren’t convinced. His contemporary Australian batsman, who wasn’t an admirer of Bradman the man, would even write that. “To suggest — and he [Bradman] missed nothing of such suggestions — that a particular bowler had his measure, was to invite that bowler’s annihilation.”
It wasn’t the only time that Bradman piled on a bowler like that. In 1930, on his first tour of England, Yorkshire’s feisty seamer George Macaulay, yielding to rumours that the Australian prodigy would be sorted out on English pitches, demanded loudly of his captain: “Let me have a go at this bugger”. Bradman smeared him for five fours in his second over and looted 16 from his third. It led to a memorable sledge from a spectator who yelled, “George, tha’ should have kept thi’ bloody trap shut!”.
Closer home, and more recently, Sachin Tendulkar’s payback to Henry Olanga is well known. Having been dismissed by Olanga, Tendulkar smashed him all around the park in the next match. Lesser known is the treatment meted out to Sreesanth.
Sreesanth had taken out Tendulkar in a Challenger tournament and celebrated wildly. The revenge came next year, according to a still awe-struck Sreesanth.
“Paaji is a legend. You know what happened in that Challenger game, I was lucky that he was coming back from an injury and I took my chance. But later on, next year I think, there was a match where I bowled to him. He smashed me for sixes over square-leg and blasted me through the off side. And we both had a laugh about it at the end of the game!” Sreesanth told this newspaper.
Interestingly, Kesrick Williams, known for his dancing celebrations in the CPL and the occasional notebook signages, didn’t do any dramatic celebrations after taking his first wicket on his international debut. “But all my team-mates asked me why I wasn’t doing them. CPL was like a party, the biggest party in sports. ICC tournaments I had more respect. But everybody said do it do it and so I did it (the dance) after my second wicket.”
In that television interview, Williams talks about his love for Soca music and how a chat with Andre Russell made him continue his dancing celebrations.
“He came and told me that he liked my dance and to run with it. So I put a little more waist in it, fine tuned it and it became a thing. I saw a couple of times even in IPL, cricketers hashtagged me after dancing like me after taking wickets. It was good to see that those players knew me and tried what I am doing.” It would be fascinating to see what happens when he faces off Kohli in the next game and especially if Williams takes Kohli’s wicket.
India vs West Indies: 2nd T20 I — Live on Star Sports 1 & 3, 7 pm onwards
‘Batters did their job, but bowlers lacked discipline’
Hyderabad: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard lauded his batsmen for putting up a good show but came down hard on the bowlers for failing to defend 200-plus score against India in the first T20 International of the three-match series here. West Indies posted a challenging 207 for 5 but Virat Kohli stamped his authority with a career-best 94 not out as India pulled off their highest successful run chase in a T20 International, overhauling the target in 18.4 overs.
India, thus, took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“I think we batted pretty well. We scored above 200 runs which more often than not you take that. But discipline in bowling and execution let us down tonight,” Pollard said at the post-match press conference on Friday night.
“We gave 23 extras, 14 or 15 of those wide deliveries, so when you look at that, those were extra balls and extra overs. When you give a class team like India these many extra deliveries, you are destined for trouble.
“No balls are something we stress on in terms of non-negotiable and we bowled a couple of them tonight. It’s something we need to look on.”
However, instead of dwelling on the negatives, Pollard preferred to look at the positives that came out of the match.
“You can find negatives out of every situation but life is about positivity, life is about going forward and looking to improve. I must commend the batters the way they went out and executed,” he said.
“I don’t think dew played much of a part. Obviously, it was a good batting track. That’s what the fans want to see, they want runs, they want sixes and they got that. It’s just a matter of execution. But it’s a long series and it’s a matter of looking at the positives and improve our game.
“(Shimron) Hetmyer getting back into runs, Brandon King scoring some runs, so it’s exciting times for us. You won’t get everything right overnight but it is a work in progress and I am a pretty contended captain.”
For the first time, the third umpire has been entrusted with the responsibility of calling front foot no balls by the ICC in the ongoing T20 series and subsequent ODIs between India and the West Indies on a trial basis.
And the third umpire did intervene on three occasions during the first T20 here with all the decisions going against the West Indies.
“It is what it is, some things you can’t control. I can’t control what they do or what rules they bring into cricket. So to me that’s not a bother and I am not going to fuss about fight over that,” the West Indies captain said about the ICC’s new rule.
“We need to control what’s in our hands and that’s playing cricket. We need to keep our foot behind the line, if we do that the umpire upstairs won’t come into play.”
On way to his unbeaten 94, Kohli hit six fours and as many sixes from the 50 balls that he faced. After hitting Kesrick Williams for a six in the 16th over, a fired up Indian captain also used his bat as an imaginary notebook to “tick” the bowler’s name off.
Asked about Kohli’s gesture, Pollard said: “He is an animated character, a great batsman and he continues to show the world that he is a world class batsman.
“His theatrics or whatever, it comes as part and parcel of the game. Sometimes you have to be like that to pump yourself to score runs and so I am fine with it.”