Lawrence Rowe Was No Coward

Mon, Jul 11, '05

by JEFFREY 'YADI' SMITH

Jamaica

The current dispute between the WICB and WIPA has spawned a number of debates about similar incidents in our recent past. The two that come to mind are the Clive Lloyd-led rebel tour to Kerry Packer?s ?Super Test Series? in Australia, and the Lawrence Rowe led rebel tour to South Africa that followed soon after.

Lawrence Rowe was a physically small man and came up from humble beginnings. He did not posses the brute-strength or the swagger of the great West Indian batsmen that preceded him or those who were to follow. Health-wise, he was a delicate man, prone to allergies and injuries that dogged his career. However, the notion that he is a coward is false.

On Rowe?s debut against New Zealand, he scored 214 glorious runs in the first inning in front of an adoring home crowd. He followed that up with an undefeated knock of 100 in the second inning. Although he couldn?t maintain this precocious output all series, there was another century in this his first series. What seem to be forgotten is that during this time Rowe was also doling out punishment to great West Indian bowlers like Lance Gibbs, who he punished for 204, runs in Shell Shield Cricket.

He was conscious of the high expectations placed upon him ever since. All people from all over the World came to see Lawrence Rowe bat. He did not want to disappoint them. The injuries, allergies and the constant pressure to please took a heavy toll on him.

So, whenever he did not feel up to the task, he preferred to abstain. This is a natural reaction of all perfectionists. And it is this that is being misinterpreted as cowardice.

Three innings would put a lie to this theory. The most significant was his 302 vs. England at Kensington Oval, which buried the myth of him being King of Sabina. Another is his century in the first Test against Australia in1975, in Australia. Alvin Kallicharan and Lawrence Rowe went on that tour as the best West Indies batsmen, even though Richards, Greenidge, Lloyd and Fredricks went.

Vivian Richards would emerge later, especially against India as the man. Yagga also treated the World Series Australians to a gem of a chanceless 175. He also scored a century on his ill-advised tour of South Africa.

Lawrence Rowe may not have been the strongest or the smartest cricketer there was. But of this I am certain, he was no coward.