It was my first tour without the likes of Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall, two had retired and one took rest from the tournament. I was entrusted for the first time to take up the mantle as a senior bowler.
I did not live up to expectations when I let the team down twice in the opening three matches, which contributed to the West Indies’ failure to reach the semi-final for the first time in its history.
In our tournament opener against England in Gujranwala, Pakistan, Allan Lamb took me to the cleaners when he and England scored 29 off my final nine deliveries to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. England, which required something like 100 off the last 10 overs, won with two wickets and three balls to spare.
We comfortably beat Sri Lanka in Karachi but three days later in Lahore, I faced even worse. With Pakistan requiring two to win off the last ball, I didn’t run-out last-man Saleem Jaffer who was backing up too far. Abdul Qadir took the required two runs off the last ball to give the home side its first victory against the West Indies following losses in the 1975, 1979 and 1983 World Cups.
But before the last-ball incident, which earned me a lot of respect and appreciation for the sportsmanship shown, there was more drama. With 12 required off the last three balls, a catch was dropped off the fourth delivery that went for a four. Then, Abdul Qadir hit me for a six on the penultimate ball!
As Qadir was taking the winning runs, the world was coming crashing down on me and with it my boyhood dreams of winning the ICC Cricket World Cup.
I was in Jamaica as a kid when we won the first two ICC Cricket World Cup finals at Lord’s. When the West Indies took on India in the 1983 final, I was playing for Tyndale in a town called Hexam, way up the north. The final was previewed as an easy walkover for the West Indies … well as we all know that was not to be the case and the West Indies failed to complete a hat-trick, an achievement accomplished by Australia when it won in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Having played in three ICC Cricket World Cups (1987, 1996 and 1999), I think the closest I came to winning the World Cup was in 1996.
We lifted ourselves from a shocking 73-run defeat to Kenya in a low-scoring affair in Pune to reach the semi-final, where we faced Australia. On way to the semi-final, we defeated South Africa by 19 runs, so the confidence was high and momentum in our favour.
In Mohali, we did well to restrict Australia to 207 for eight following a 138-run fifth wicket partnership between Stuart Law and Michael Bevan after Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop had reduced Australia to 15 for four. In the run-chase, we had the match in our bag when we reached 165 for two. But then, Shane Warne pulled some tricks out of his sleeve and we fell five runs short of the target with the spinner finishing with four wickets.
This was another sad exit for me and the team.
I have had many landmarks in cricket. The first to 500 Test wickets, West Indies’ leading wicket-taker in ODIs with 227 wickets, Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1987, captain of the West Indies in 22 Tests, named as one of Jamaica’s greatest cricketers in 2004, inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2010 as well as other accolades I received from the government and official institutions, at home and around the region. But the regret of not wearing a World Cup winner’s medal runs deep, as it was something I wanted to do as a child. This leaves my career somewhat incomplete.
Having said that, the lessons I learnt from all my ICC Cricket World Cup appearances and playing against some of the greatest players is that this game is the best leveler.
It was also great to rub shoulders with some of the legends of the game, like Sir Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Glenn McGrath, Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Steve Waugh and Wasim Akram, just to name a few from the opposition, and all my West Indies colleagues as well as those who taught me so much about the game and life.
My World Cup experiences have also helped me to toughen up and become a better bowler and thinker of the game. Although I was not a World Cup winner, this great game made me a winner with what it taught me.
Cricket was and will always be a part of my life, so I can't wait to the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and hope the event produces new stars so that the game remains in safe hands and continues to thrive and flourish. Good luck to all the players involved and I am sure this will be a tremendous time and experience for all involved. 2014 © ICC Development (International) Limited