This is Alvin Kallicharran’s benefit year with Warwickshire — a landmark in a career that has included countless delightful innings and innumerable dressing-room laughs from this amusing little West Indian. Alvin has always been deservedly popular on the English county circuit, a tribute to the way he has readily adapted to our way of life. Indeed his sense of humor is now a broad Brummie one compared to the more indecipherable strain I detect in his fellow countrymen.
I struck up a good relationship with Alvin Kallicharran as soon as I moved to Edgbaston from The Oval. We were both ‘capped’ in 1972, the year Warwickshire won the Championship, and it was clear that we had captured a gem of a batsman. In 1973-74, I was on the receiving end of several battering from Alvin; he was a star attraction in a magnificent West Indies batting side and I can still remember my aching feet as I fielded out to some tremendous knocks by him in those two series. When some well-intentioned folk pointed out that I seemed to bowl well against Alvin in subsequent Test series, I always reminded them of the earlier Kallicharran. I reckon he is still way ahead on points.
Having experienced the pressures of leading my country, I can well understand the problems Alvin faced when it fell to him to lead the side on a tour of India. The ructions caused by World Series Cricket in 1977-78 meant that he had to take a side that was, in effect, a third-choice outfit. Only a handful of them had played Test cricket before the tour and Alvin Kallicharran was the mainstay. He topped the batting averages, playing a succession of nimble, quick-footed innings on turning wickets against Bishan Singh Bedi, Venkat, and Chandrasekhar, and I understand he did a marvelous job in holding morale together on an exhausting, difficult tour.
His sense of humor and professional attitude has been equally impressive during my four years as Warwickshire captain; underneath the smiling, relaxed exterior, Alvin has a shrewd, calculating cricket brain, and he has always been constructive and supportive in his advice. Few overseas players have been such thorough team-men in county cricket.
Like so many high-class batsmen, Alvin Kallicharran picks the ball up extremely early. He excels in the hook, the pull, and the cut shots, while his driving on either side of the wicket is clear and certain. Like most left-handers, he is a little vulnerable in the off-stump area early in his innings and his lack of height sometimes gets him into trouble against the lifting ball.
Fierce concentration – For a couple of seasons, Alvin looked as if he had been worn down by a constant barrage of fast, short-pitched bowling; in the end, every batsman suffers from this. Yet Alvin showed his mental strength by batting his way back into consistent form: he got into line, played straighter, and concentrated fiercely.
As a result, he scored over 2000 runs for us in the 1982 season, a great performance in a side that was consistently on the wrong end of some hostile bowling. Time after time, Alvin Kallicharran rescued us with some amazing knocks in 1982. But the highlight was his century against Somerset in the quarter-final of the NatWest Trophy. He scored 141 not out in a total of 261 for 5 to win the match in an astonishing display of virtuosity.
I shall never forget the six he hit over square leg off a delivery by Joel Garner that was a respectable good length — ‘Big Bird’ was still shaking his head about that shot an hour after the game’s end! That was the best innings I have ever seen in one-day cricket.
Alvin Kallicharran and his family are now settled and content in Birmingham after severing links with West Indies. Truly his country’s loss is Warwickshire’s gain because his hunger for runs and desire to achieve them in style is still as strong as ever. I am sure he will be around to delight all lovers of high-class batsmanship for a number of seasons.
Judging by the way his young son, Rohan, shapes up with a bat during the intervals on the Edgbaston outfield, I estimate that Alvin Kallicharran will not be the last of his family to represent Warwickshire. That gift of timing and deceptive power is clearly hereditary qualities.
Source: Bob Willis pays his dues to a richly-talented and much-traveled cricketer. October 1983