Wednesday, January 22, 2014

John Shepherd - correcting Wisden !

The recently published “Wisden Cricketers of the Year – A celebration of cricket’s greatest players” is a nice coffee table book full of good photographs and brief biographies of all of these Wisden Cricketers since the first in 1889. 
I would like briefly to comment on author Simon Wilde’s description of John Shepherd who was one of the five in 1979. He says that Shep “... would have played many more Tests had he not joined a multinational tour of South Africa in 1973, leading to his excommunication from West Indian cricket”.  In fact had Mr Wilde looked at my biography of Shep he would have seen that in 1971, some two years before he went to South Africa with the Derrick Robins XI, John had been told that the powers-that-be in West Indies cricket had decided that he would not play for the Windies again. To this day John does not know why this was but it had nothing to do with his later involvement in Southern Africa. It is also quite untrue to say that Shep was “excommunicated” by West Indies cricket. What John did was not in any way prohibited by the West Indian authorities at the time – it was not until May 1976 that West Indians were warned not to play in South Africa or they would be banned from playing in the Caribbean. John had no involvement in Southern Africa after the 1976/6 season.
Whilst I was researching the John Shepherd biography in Barbados all of the former players, officials and commentators I met had nothing but praise for Shep – and his career is marked in a nice display in the “Cricket Legends of Barbados” museum in Bridgetown. Simon Wilde hints that Shep was a rebel and that he ruffled some feathers. He wasn't and he didn't!  

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