“Lord have mercy, how do you bat with that?”
Bruce Pairaudeau, former West Indies player and now New Zealand resident, was not able to see the answer to the question he posed to Chris Gayle for himself, because the Jamaican was forced out of the only match Pairaudeau was able to attend with a back injury, but they may gave used the time to chat instead. There would not have been enough time at Saturday’s nets to properly get into a discussion about bat weights anyway.
Pairaudeau, who is 83, surprised the West Indies players during their training session on the eve of the UAE clash, after driving 300 kilometres with a friend from Hamilton, where he lives. He arrived unannounced but almost recognisable, not by face, but by accent.
“We heard a West Indian voice and when I looked at who it was, I thought it might be Bruce Pairaudeau. We knew he lived in New Zealand but we didn’t know he was coming over,” Philip Spooner, West Indies media manager said. “All the guys just loved meeting him.”
Pairaudeau played 13 Tests for West Indies between 1953 and 1957, alongside Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Alf Valentine and fell in love with New Zealand on a tour to the country in 1956. After West Indies won the series 3-1, he wanted to stay in New Zealand but knew that if he did, he would not be considered for the 1957 visit to England.
That series was particularly important to him because, as a young man, Pairaudeau had made three promises to himself. He wanted to play for Guyana, represent West Indies and tour England. He managed all three and has the brochure to prove it. He brought it with to show to the current crop, who he also regaled with stories from that tour and life in New Zealand.
When Pairaudeau moved, he did not give up playing cricket and helped Northern Districts to their first Plunkett Shield in the 1962-63 season. He played for the team for eight years but even after with two decades of first-class experience, still does not know how or why Gayle chooses to use the equipment he does, even when he tried it out himself.