CRICKET: GETTING ON THE GUS MEMORY BUS

May 03, 2020

Email

Gus Logie: Before Jonty Rhodes, Logie was renowned as the best fielder in the world
Gus Logie: Before Jonty Rhodes, Logie was renowned as the best fielder in the world

The fertile islands of the Caribbean have been famous for producing world-class cricketers as well as musicians. Sir Garfield Sobers and Bob Marley are two such legends, with the former hailing from Barbados and the latter from Jamaica. Cricket is not just a game and music is not just an art form for a Caribbean kid. They are a huge part of their growing up, a way of life.

Music and cricket are inseparable in that part of the world, so it’s no wonder that West Indian cricketers are often referred to as ‘Calypso cricketers.’

“After a hectic day, I like my own space with my music — Anita Baker, the Motown Sound and any good movie, depending on the mood,” Augustine Lawrence Logie, also known as, Gus Logie, tells Eos. We had met during the West Indies Women’s team visit here last year and exchanged emails. After that team’s show in the recently-concluded ICC Women’s T20 World Cup I decided to get in touch with him.

Logie grew up at a place near La Brea in Trinidad and Tobago, where he was introduced to cricket at a very young age. “My interest in cricket grew like with many young boys in my area of Sobo Village, seeing and joining their elder siblings playing in the backyards and village grounds and schools,” he says.

He made his Test debut against India in the first Test of the series played at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica in 1983. The luckless debutant got run-out after scoring just 13 runs in his first Test innings, but it was a thrilling Test match nonetheless, which the West Indies won by four wickets.

“It was the most memorable game in which we had to score 170-odd in 26 overs to win the game in the final session of the fifth day’s play. It was a T20 approach, long before T20 was heard of, without the restrictions. The atmosphere was electric all around, and the belief from our players was outstanding in agreeing to chase and achieve that total,” Logie says.

Former West Indies’ cricketer and now the head coach of their women’s team, Gus Logie never had to taste a Test series defeat. Eos caught up with him after the recent disappointment of the West Indies Women’s team at the Women’s T20 World Cup

Logie was fortunate to play under the leadership of the two most iconic and illustrious captains of West Indies cricket — Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards. Lloyd was the captain when he made his Test debut and Richards was leading the side when he played his last Test match against England at Edgbaston, in Birmingham in 1991.

“Clive was like a father figure to many, myself included. His guidance and calm assurances were a hallmark of his captaincy,” he says. “Viv led from the front and that confidence also rubbed off on his players.”

Before the arrival of Jonty Rhodes on the international cricket scene, Logie was hailed as the best fielder on the global scene, especially at the forward short-leg position. He was lightning quick on the field.

“Well, we had some great fielders in our team and we fed off and inspired each other to excel. Of course, speed and agility drills were done, as were quick-reflex drills, but the courage to field at the short-leg came naturally,” he says.

In 1986 Logie became the first player ever to receive the man of the match for outstanding fielding alone (he didn’t bat or bowl in that match) — he took three catches and ran out two batsmen in the Champions Trophy match against Pakistan in Sharjah. In the 1988 Brisbane Test, Logie, standing at short-leg, leapt into the air like a leopard and took an epic left-handed catch, which is still remembered by many cricket fans with much fondness.

“I do remember that moment and, having Courtney Walsh as my assistant coach with the women’s team now, it’s been highlighted more so as he was the bowler,” says Logie. “It still feels good to see that catch.”

Gus Logie: Before Jonty Rhodes, Logie was renowned as the best fielder in the world
Gus Logie: Before Jonty Rhodes, Logie was renowned as the best fielder in the world

Arguably, it was the West Indies team that introduced high-five celebrations in cricket. But compared to most of his tall teammates, Logie was diminutive at 5 feet and 4 inches. His high-fives with the towering Curtly Ambrose (6 feet, 7 inches tall) and Courtney Walsh (6 feet, 6 inches) became quite a spectacle at the time. He reminisces, “As much as those celebrations are natural and part of our celebrations, I got the sense they enjoyed seeing me having to jump higher to reach their hands.” He laughs.

Logie played in an era in which fast bowlers ruled the roost — not just his fellow teammates, but bowlers from the opponent teams too. There was reverse swing, arrays of ferocious bouncers, and toe-crushing yorkers. So, who was the most difficult bowler he faced in his career?

“That’s always a difficult one,” he says, “as all bowlers at the international level were difficult. But if I have to name a few I’ll say a young Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Sir Richard Hadlee.”

The West Indies were invincible in the 1980s, but there was one ‘mystery’ bowler who bamboozled the Windies batsmen. Sharing a few words on Abdul Qadir and his experience of playing against his leg-spin bowling he says: “My condolences to Qadir’s family at his untimely passing. But his great legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of everyone who played with and against him. In our team at that time, we often talked about Thompson and Lillie giving you sleepless nights. Well, Abdul Qadir was in that category.”

Sharing his highs and lows in cricket life he says: “I have no regrets. I’m just grateful for being involved in a sport that has allowed me to visit many countries and make lifelong friends. To have played in that era and not tasted a Test series defeat as a player is something, really. And I guess to endure the disappointment of our inability to return to those days.”

About his most memorable moment he recalls, “I would pick the England tour in 1988, scoring 81 and 95 not out at Lord’s and helping the West Indies to win that Test match. It felt great.”

In the recent ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, the West Indies team didn’t perform up to expectations and failed to qualify for the semi-finals. As the head coach of the team, Logie shares the difficulties his team had to face in the tournament.

“Our expectations at the Women’s World Cup suffered many setbacks, with injuries and loss of form from our most experienced players — but even so, we were timid and did not collectively believe and perform, despite the immense ability I know the team possesses.”

Logie is quite satisfied with the progress and the current standard of women’s cricket in general, however. “The women’s game has and continues to evolve, the aggression and composure from some players continues to impress. The power and fearless approach by others and the quality of spinners have all combined to encourage all to work harder at taking the game forward,” he says.

In 2019, Logie visited Pakistan as the head coach of the West Indies women’s team. How did he find the tour? “It was great to visit Pakistan after so many years and to see the same enthusiasm, love for the game, and the people who played with us and also those who are now playing,” he says. “But your mild chicken curry and naan were my favourites.”

Make those Caribbean obsessions cricket, music and food.

The writer tweets @CaughtAtPoint

Published in Dawn, EOS, May 3rd, 2020