Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Eddie Barlow - a 35th anniversary tribute - Part Five

Peakfan - I've always felt that Derbyshire missed an opportunity to have Eddie as a coach. Was that offer ever on the table for him?

Dave Griffin - Derbyshire wanted Eddie to stay. I think if he’d arrived 5 years earlier we’d have become a champion county. I think he felt he’d come and done what he needed to do and that it was up to Derbyshire to kick on. To be fair, they did – Nat West winners 3 years later with – predominantly – his side.

P – I'd agree with that! Had he come in 1970, at the height of his powers, he would have been an even greater sensation. Instead he ended up at Gloucestershire, where he was coach for two seasons. How did he find that?

Cally Barlow – To begin with he found it very difficult. One of the administrators told him he could not make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The players had no motivation and no inclination to perform and some of them were downright obstructive. They had never met anyone like Eddie but would soon learn that they either did it his way or they were out. Eddie thought he had been brought in to get rid of the dross that the administrators did not have the guts to get rid of themselves. One of the players who had been contracted to bat and bowl came to Eddie and said that he could not bowl. Eddie told him he had better go and renew his contract with the chairman.

Guess what? He bowled! Eventually he got the team he wanted and who were willing and keen to work with him and it was a happy time for him. Unfortunately it came to an abrupt end when his father died and he had to go back to South Africa.

P - Presumably it was a frustration to be no longer able to change and affect games with his own skills?

C - Eddie was not the frustrated type. He had been the best and was now doing his utmost to produce cricketers with the same ethos he had himself. Some players can coach, others can't and Eddie always felt his job was to motivate players and fine tune their natural ability. It always annoyed him to hear Test players say they were on a learning curve. He felt that when they got to that level they should know what they were doing.

P - How did the players at Gloucestershire respond to his ideas on fitness? As well as (most of) those at Derbyshire, or was it harder work?

C - Derbyshire was definitely a wake up call for the players there. By the time he got to Gloucestershire there was a greater awareness that in order to perform at the optimum level they would have to be fit. The players at Gloucestershire were not averse to 'physical jerks' as it was becoming increasingly obvious that other counties were doing the same things, especially in the fielding arena. Eddie had led the way at Derbyshire.

P - I’ve read that Eddie’s methods sowed the seeds for Gloucestershire’s subsequent one-day success?

C – That's probably true. Eddie's greatest asset was making Gloucestershire's players believe they could be the best if they worked hard and believed in themselves.

P - Then of course it was back to South Africa, success with Orange Free State, Griqualand West and Transvaal and then the purchase of a winery. Life cannot have been dull?

C - Anything but! Besides wanting to be the best cricketer he could be, Eddie was always a wannabe farmer and while at Gloucestershire purchased a pig farm. It was probably a mistake in the then Nationalist Government as if you were not an Afrikaner all sorts of obstacles were put in your path. He never got paid first grade for his pigs but always second and third. When he asked where he could buy second or third grade pork Speckenham (the Pork Board) were not amused – and neither was Eddie.

He really enjoyed his time at Free State, getting five of his players into the national side, which was an amazing achievement. He left after a year for Transvaal, which he would later admit was the biggest mistake he ever made. He thought he was doing a good job and the players won their first silverware for ages, but one of the Board members went to the players and asked them if they wanted Eddie to stay. No one has ever given a definite answer to the question “Was Eddie sacked or did he leave of his own accord?”

After his stroke, Eddie could not remember, but the upshot was that he left and moved to the Cape to head up the new Superjuice Academy. This was a great success but after he divorced his second wife we moved to the Robertson area and bought another wine farm. Eddie decided to put cricket behind him for good. Wine farms are like horses though, they eat money, so he was pleased to be asked to go and coach at the Griquas (Griqualand West) by one of his good friends. Unfortunately this friend was rather controlling and always wanted to stick his nose into Eddie's business. After a season and a bit, Eddie came home and said “Right, pack up, we're leaving.”

It left a nasty taste in people's mouths, but I supported Eddie to the hilt on this one. We returned to the farm, but it was not long before he got a call from Ali Bacher to ask if he would like to coach Bangladesh. Prior to this, Eddie has a stint as batting coach to South Africa, but had got on the wrong side of Bob Woolmer and Ali said he was no longer required. Hansie Cronje was not pleased as he was very pro-Eddie and felt he had a lot to offer the team. At the end of the series against the West Indies he sent Eddie a present.

It was a silver tray, which read, “Don't piss on my patch. With thanks from the boys.” Eddie had told them that the West Indies were pissing all over them and they had to show them that this was not going to happen!

Anyway, Eddie came off the call from Ali and said “Ali must really want me out of the way.” It backfired though, if that was the intention, as we both loved Bangladesh

To be continued

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