Sylvester Clarke: West Indies fast bowler
Full name: Sylvester Theophilus Clarke
Born: December 11, 1954 at Christ Church, Barbados
Died: December 4, 1999 at Christ Church, Barbados
Major teams: West Indies, Barbados, Northern Transvaal, Orange Free State, Surrey, Transvaal
Playing role: Fast bowler, lower order batsman
Sylvester Clarke’s run-up was not necessarily the most sublime; it was one where he’d accelerate quickly and enter his delivery stride with a contortion of limbs. However awkward his action appeared, it was able to deliver the ball well in excess of 85 miles per hour – and with disconcerting bounce.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, in his autobiography summed it up as follows: "Pace and bounce of the kind Clarke could muster is something you can't prepare for.” He added, “It's an assault both physically and mentally and the moment you weaken and think about what might happen, you're either out or injured..."
Clarke started playing First-class cricket for Barbados at a relatively late age for cricketers – 23. One year after making his First-class debut, he wore the maroon cap of the West Indies. His ascent was as quick as his bowling, although he owed it to the defections of key players who played World Series Cricket under Kerry Packer.
Clarke had a creditable debut, taking six wickets against Australia at Guyana. However, the Barbadian pace bowler was unlucky to play at a time when the Caribbean had a plethora of fast bowling options. When the “Packer players” returned, Clarke was a fringe player.
His decision to play in South Africa during the infamous “rebel tours” effectively curtailed his international career. As his bowling records show, the 6'2 fast bowler was more than capable with the ball in hand.
Sylvester Clarke's bowling records
Clarke has a good international record, but he excelled in First-class cricket – playing for Barbados, as well as in South Africa and England. He even demonstrated prowess with the bat – scoring one First-class hundred. However, he was best remembered for an infamous incident in a 1980 Test match against Pakistan at Multan.
Clarke retaliated to being harassed and pelted by Pakistan supporters by tossing a brick used as a boundary marker into the crowd. A 22-year old student was injured as a result. To make amends Clarke visited the student in hospital and apologized for that incident. However, he still faced a three-match ban for it.
The fast bowler’s nine seasons were certainly impressive. Many English County batsmen reckoned that Clarke was the fastest and nastiest of fast bowlers on the County circuit – notwithstanding the West Indian greats who were playing at that time as well. The Barbadian was one of 20 Surrey cricketers honoured by the County in 2005.
Sylvester Clarke died in 1999; just weeks after he played a club match in his native Barbados. Weeks earlier, he had attended the funeral of Malcolm Marshall – the former West Indies bowler who took 376 Test wickets. While Clarke’s international career was brief, he made a mark in First-class cricket and would be remembered as one who helped to establish the West Indian pace tradition.
More hubs on fast bowling
- Reverse swing in cricket: A misunderstood art
Reverse swing, whether it goes away from the batsman or otherwise, goes contrary to a batsmans expectation. The cricket ball swings in a manner contrary to what the seam position and shine of the ball suggests it should.
- Cricket controversies: Colin Croft vs Fred Goodall
The 1980/81 West Indies tour of New Zealand is regarded as the most acrimonious tours of all. The contention was the incompetent officiating by the home umpires - particularly one Fred Goodall.
- Curtly Ambrose: The mean West Indian bowling machine
Curtley Ambrose is one of the fast bowling legends of the game, not just for his impressive statistics, but the way he instilled fear in opposing batsmen.
- Ian Bishop: West Indies fast bowler
In his prime, few were faster and more destructive to batting line-ups than Ian Raphael Bishop. The former West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago fast-bowler was a fearsome proposition on most cricket pitches.
- Michael Holding: West Indies' Whispering Death
As a ccricket commentator, Michael Holding is critical and controversial. In his playing days, he was the best of the lot.
- Patrick Patterson: West Indies cricketer
Balfour Patrick Patterson - better known as Patrick Patterson, for obvious reasons - was surely in the class of nasty quick bowlers. Batsmen who faced him had to use their skill and technique to defend their wicket.
- Cricket: Best fast bowlers of all time
Pace, determination, fitness and aggressions are just some of the attributes that spawned some of cricket's fastest and meanest bowlers.
More by this Author
The Aussies had a slew of quick bowlers who used a combination of pace, guile and skill to outwit opposing batsmen. This list of Aussie fast-men is based on the pace bowlers who scalped the most wickets in Test matches.
Muttiah Muralitharan was the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets. Shane Warne was the first to 700 Test wickets. However, many dispute that Muralitharan is the best spinner in cricket history. Here's a detailed...
Prudence is one of the fundamental principles of accounting. It suggests that assets or revenue should not be overstated. On the flip side, liabilities and expenses should not be understated either.
No comments yet.