CricInfo Remembers 1983 Windies Rebel Tour Of South Africa – And The Ruined Lives


Cricketers’ Lives Were Ruined When They Played South Africa

In 1983, I was too young to really follow what was happening, but I do remember a friend’s uncle saying that “our” rebel team was like Jessie Owens running at the Nazi Olympics. The uncle was proud of them, but I was confused because there was a lot of hostility.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan lays out the whole sad story…

The Unforgiven

Twenty-four years ago 18 West Indians made history when they ventured into apartheid South Africa to play a series that went down in legend. For most of them it was their undoing. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan revisits the rebel tour of 1983 and meets the men who suffered for it.

June 30, 2006. The first day of the final Test between India and West Indies at Sabina Park. Shortly after the tea interval ‘Danny Germs’ makes his appearance in the George Headley Stand. He gesticulates wildly, craving attention. It does not take too long for the cops to banish him to a quiet corner.

Talk to him and you would be convinced that the whole world has conspired to finish him off. He vividly describes the murder of his son, talking you through the whole plot, miming the bullet ripping through his temple. Three people nearby overhear and are quick to caution that none of it is true.

When Jerome Taylor, a fellow Jamaican, gets a standing ovation for his five-wicket haul, Danny cannot control himself. “I could have done that,” he sobs. He begs for money at the end of the conversation and hugs you when he sees the 500-Jamaican-dollar note. He blushes when asked what he will do with the money. “A bit of booze, a bit of crack.”

… continue reading this article at CricInfo (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Cricket, Culture & Race Issues

10 responses to “CricInfo Remembers 1983 Windies Rebel Tour Of South Africa – And The Ruined Lives

  1. Yardbroom

    The players were warned, before they made the South African tour what would happen after. As adults they made the choice in a free society, the blacks in South Africa did not have a free choice about anything in their lives.

    Many white sportsmen refused large sums of moneyto tour South Africa, on a point of principle.

    Whilst the West Indian cricketers were in some instances short of money, blacks in South Africa were losing their lives and – Nelson Mandella was still in prison.

    The English cricketers who later toured South Africa – banned for three years – were white. The West Indian cricketers were black, and anyone with any knowledge of West Indian history would known the resonance whites oppressing blacks, would have on West Indians.

    As a human being I am sorry for their plight, but in life there is always action and the consequences of that action, that is what society is about.

  2. Rumplestilskin

    I would agree that there the actions of the ‘rebel’ cricketers, while considered beneficial South African societal impact on both the white and black citizens.

    I also sympathise with their poverty and thus cannot condemn them.Incidentally, the following is my memory:

    – Kallicharan was already (prematurely) left out of the West Indies selection, so it had no effect onhis career

    – Greendidge was unfairly treated by the WICB , having stayed in West Indies while Lloyd and his group played for Packer, when they returned, he was left out.

    – Rowe, so it was said, was already ( allegedly )suffering bad eyesight and thus his career was going down

    So there is more to the story.

  3. Rumplestilskin

    Sorry, first paragraph got jumbled in typing.

    Should read, I would agree that the actions of the ‘rebel’ cricketers, while considered inappropriate, in fact had some beneficial South African societal impact on both the white and black citizens.

  4. ABC123

    they did it for the big money that was stirring!

    Principles be damned: we need the MONEY!

  5. Patrick Porter

    Although I disagree with what happened back then and I made my views known at the time. I was called so many names I can’t remember them all but one that sticks in my mind was traitor, because I opposed them going there
    However hind sight is 20/20 and maybe just maybe the tour helped to bring down the SA regime and give the people their freedoms. Just a thought

  6. David

    The time of the singing of bats is upon us.

    The tour to South Africa, being only able as ‘honourary whites, coupled with the Packer new-style linited over cricket generated a pride in West Indian Cricket, and some income for it’s budding youth.

    We are black, we are strong, we are the best, and we are the most entertaining. Clive Lloyd, returning from Australia as Moses led WI cricket to high heights

    This was legacy, is legacy, and this 15-20 year dominance of the game is opined in cricket circles to be a greater cause of the end of the apartheid era than even the international sanctions. It drove us to be what was absolutely essential. We saw, we re-acted.

    The slow decline of dominance came when our cricketers were ostracised from earning a living from the game.

    For cricket to grow as a world wide sport the entry of cricketers is essential.

    Right now West Indians work Monday to Friday and then try to make the West Indies team, while the larger countries have academies and scholorships. Still, talent for talent, the West Indies have it, and may this shine for our team at our CWC.

    The time of the singing of bats is here.

  7. Rumplestilskin

    Ironically, even though the Dennis Lillee bowling academy is in India, mediocre bowling is what lost India the match that just caused their CWC demise.

    Bowling, batting whatever takes also…


    That is what its all about skipper!

  8. MrCous

    As a South African Chinese person who grew up with rebel tours (I was 9 years old at the time of the tour) I was too young to understand that this was not the official West Indian team.

    In the 80s and up till 1994, South Africans Chinese did not have voting rights, but as we were seen as being ‘closer to white’, we had many more ‘rights’ than our black countrymen (for example, we could watch a live game as opposed to blacks who could only work at the game). However, my parents and grandparents were not as fortunate when they were younger, and therefore, many Chinese South Africans, including my father always supported the rebels, whether it was England, the Windies or Australia.

    I can’t speak for black South Africans, but despite the immorality of the tour, I remember it with nostalgia.

    The article is accurate in its portrayal of the excitement the tour generated – I remember playing back yard cricket trying to emulate Sylvester Clarke and Collis King.

    I just wonder why the journalist did not mention that there were two tours – 82/83 and 83/84 (The Windies won the ‘test’ series 2-1)

    Many members of other rebel touring parties found their way back into the true international stage, whether as players or coaches – Terry Alderman, Trevor Hohns, Carl Rackemann from the 85/86 and 86/87 Aussie Rebel tour helped win the Ashes in 1989

    – Graham Gooch, Bob Woolmer, Peter Willey from the 81/82 English Rebel Tour.

    Therefore, I was saddened to find out the unfortunate circumstances of so many of the West Indian tour members and hope that their countrymen can one day forgive them and recognise the amazing talent they possessed.

  9. Derek

    As a white South African, probably 8 -10 at the time of the tours, we saw the Windies as heros. Sylvester Clarke, Alvin Kalicharran (sp?) were emulated by black and white kids, and even TV ads for beer had SA batsmen (white) peeing in their pants at the run-up of Sylvester Clarke; Malcolm Marshall was the biggest influence in South African fast bowling for years. They occasionally coached at clubs and schools and had hundreds of boys looking up at them, and probably imparted important cricket, but also social lessons.

    Just a different perspective on it.

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