Friday, 21 January 2011

Eddie Barlow - a 35th anniversary tribute - Part Six

Peakfan - Finally Eddie was largely responsible for the overhaul of Bangladesh cricket that saw them granted Test status in 2000. That must have been a huge job. Do you feel that the burden of work was a contributory factor to his stroke?

Cally Barlow – It was a huge job to sort out Bangladesh, not only from a playing perspective but on the administration side as well. I don't think Eddie ever cracked the administration side, but he did a thunderingly good job with the players. Without exception they all adored him and that rubbed off on the Bangladeshi people. He was absolutely the right person for the job at that time. He realised that a nation's aspirations were at stake and that Test status would empower not only the players but the people, who had lived for so long in the shadow of their more powerful neighbours, India and Pakistan.

He worked tirelessly to improve their game, even translating everything he did into Bengali so they could understand his words. He ignored those who patronised Bangladesh as not being good enough for Test cricket.

Did this bring on the stroke? I don't think so. Eddie had an underlying hereditary disease known as hyperhomocysteinemia, which increases the risk of artery or vein disease. It could have been treated had it been known about. I will say, however, that the treatment he received in Bangladesh was by far superior to any he received in either Singapore, where he was transferred, or in South Africa, where he ended up. In South Africa they let him fall off a commode and bump his head off the wall opposite Then they had the cheek to try and charge us for the X-rays!

P - He is still revered in Bangladesh and South Africa, as well as in Derbyshire. That must be a comfort to you?

C - You cannot believe how wonderful it is for me that Eddie is so fondly remembered. He could still be among us as everyone always talks about him to me. I had not been back to Bangladesh for nine years until this Spring, but the welcome I received would have done credit to the Queen! Even the youngsters came up to me and said, “You Mrs Eddie Barlow?” When I said yes, they wanted to shake my hand and now want to be my friends on Facebook!

Derbyshire and Gloucestershire fans are the same and it is a real pleasure.

P - After all of that, the two of you ended up in North Wales, where Eddie continued to coach despite having to use a wheelchair some of the time. If any one thing highlights his love for the game, that must surely be it?

C – This was something special for Eddie, having been thrown on the scrapheap in South Africa. He was delighted to accept Tony Lewis' offer of employment in North Wales. Thanks to the Professional Cricketer's Association he was given a motorised wheelchair, which gave him back his legs and meant I didn't have to trundle him up and down the nets in an ordinary one.

He coached North-East Wales juniors and they adored him. After he died, one of them came to me and said “We miss Eddie so much, as he was inspirational and motivated us so well.”

He was coaching to the end. Gray-Nicholls gave him three bats for my grandchildren and we took them over to Jersey for Christmas. He told me that he would show the boys how to bat properly. I wheeled him out into the garden before Christmas and he and the boys were out there for ages. I looked out of the window and the snow was beginning to fall so I called them all in. He really did die with his boots on (Eddie died on December 30, 2005 - P)

P - Did he keep in touch with the county throughout this time and they with him? Did many of his former colleagues keep in touch?

C – We often went over to Derbyshire and at ex-players lunches he and the guys would talk about the old days and the good times they all had together. He was also invited as guest of honour to the Lord's annual dinner and we went to many other functions too.

P - Whenever I think of Eddie, I see a somewhat dishevelled cricketer, mopping his brow with chunky forearms who, when I first saw him in 1970 playing for the Rest of the World against England, looked to be on a par with Sobers. Yet it was the glasses that inspired me the most, as a fellow-wearer who was just 12 at the time. Eddie inspired me and made me think I could play cricket, and I have, for the past 40 years! Did he ever get such comments from people?

C – In all the time I knew Eddie I only met one person who actively disliked him and another who always tried to put him down. Both I put down to jealousy and it was quite petty. Eddie was the most unassuming man in cricket. Yes, he believed he was always going to take wickets and catches and score runs, but if he didn't, that was yesterday and tomorrow was another challenge. I never heard him boast and apart from those two people everyone had a good word for him.

What did get him down a little was that when he met someone he had played against, they would always recall getting Eddie out for very little, or smashing a fifty off his bowling. He used to wonder why they never remembered him bowling them for a duck,or getting a hundred off their bowling.

P – I think that's a sign of his quality. Eddie was so good that people cling on to what they achieved against him, conveniently forgetting the number of times that HE came out on top!

C- That's maybe right! Because he was always so positive it rubbed off on everyone he met and made them believe in themselves.

P - Finally Cally, how do you think that Eddie is remembered?

C – On the field as a great opponent, giving as good as he got. Off the field as a man full of humour, with modesty in his achievements and a bucket full of charm. I was lucky to share his life for only a short time but would not have swapped a minute of it. Yes, he could be a pain in the backside, but can't we all? But he would have that twinkle in his eye and a little grin on his face and very soon the world was back on an even keel.

Dave Griffin - To me, Eddie will always be remembered as the man who made Derbyshire believe. There was no such thing as a lost cause and everyone at Derbyshire, on and off the field, became convinced that Derbyshire could beat anyone, and often did.

Gerald Mortimer - I had enormous admiration for Eddie as a man in terms of his personality and leadership qualities. Without doubt he was a born leader [he was an influential player and captain and could change the course of a game] and it is sad that he was denied the opportunity of showing this at Test match level due to the restrictions on S African cricket due to their apartheid policy.

Bob Taylor – In an era of great all-rounders, Eddie was up there with the best of them. He was getting on when he came to Derbyshire but still set the standards and demanded they were met. He taught us a lot and we were all grateful for the experience.

Tony Borrington - He was, quite simply, a great man and all those players who were privileged to have played under him not only benefited hugely from his influence but will have carried his values to the end of their playing careers – and beyond!



Anonymous said...

Thanks for an excellent anniversary tribute Peakfan. Truly enthralling,

Natwest 81

Peakfan said...

Thanks mate!