The forgotten hero of West Indies: Keith Boyce
I have been told time and again that heroes come and leave, some leaving a name behind them and some legacy for their time at this lovely sport of Cricket. While it's not a new thing for players to lose their careers because of one shoddy performance in a match or a series, quite a few had to give up cricket because of natural causes. Some personal setbacks and a great prospect of leaving your name behind you in the game that you had so closely followed and practiced goes in vain.
There have been many players who contributed largely to the game at their time in cricket but have to relish on the thought that only those who saw them play will remember their valuable contribution to the sport which was their life. Some players leave with the guard of honor and books dedicated to their inimitable potential in the game and some leave with the gratification of having represented their country at the International venue.
Something similar happened to this Barbados legend, Keith David Boyce.
Keith Boyce was born in a small town called, St Peter in Barbados. He started off as a leg-spinner and as a youngster played alongside the likes of Seymour Nurse, Charlie Griffith, and Everton Weekes.
West Indies has produced some remarkable players throughout its lineage in cricket. Keith Boyce was another miracle in the array of quality players who have capped West Indies in its prime days. Turning from a leg-spinner to a pacer in his cricketing years and slaughtering every bowler of that time with his big hitting, Keith Boyce was a miracle at it's best. A prolific fielder and a match changer, Keith Boyce was a batsman who can be the compared to the likes of Ben Stokes and Jacques Kallis in the modern day cricket.
First Class Cricket
Keith Boyce made his first-class debut in February 1965 against Intercontinental Cavaliers as an all-rounder. He picked up two wickets in that match and scored a fast 55 against an attack which boasted of bowlers like Roy Marshall, Trevor Bailey, and the legendary Jim Laker.
Keith Boyce had a prolific run as a List A player and soon became the first bowler to take eight wickets in a List A match. A record that remained untouched for sixteen years only to be broken by Kent's Derek Underwood against Scotland. He achieved the feat when he took 8-26 for Essex against Lancashire in 1971.
In the 288 innings that he played as a List A player, he scored 8800 runs and took 852 wickets.
In the 1971 season of English county, Keith Boyce claimed 8 wickets in 7.4 overs by conceding 26 runs against star-studded Lancashire at Old Trafford. The figures achieved by Keith Boyce was the at that time. He soon had a very successful season where he scored over 1000 rungs and picked up 82 wickets. He was awarded The Cricket Society Wetherall Award for the Leading All-Rounder in English First-Class Cricket.
With regard to his, outstanding run in domestic cricket, Keith Boyce got an opportunity to play at the International level. Keith Boyce made his Test debut against India in the same year after his prolific run in the First Class cricket. He took 2 wickets in that match, a shy behind the highest wicket-taker and established a permanent position for himself in the West Indies squad. His best Test series came against England in the 1973 tour which he picked up 5/70 and 6/77 in an emphatic 158 run victory against the host.
`Stingray' was what they called him, Fletch says. Unpredictable or what. You never knew quite what excitement there would be in the next half-hour. Like carbon-dating, the reference to a kids' TV puppet show slots the first-class career of Keith Boyce into a time frame.
Keith Boyce was a figure highly remembered and celebrated at the time when he played the sport.
Keith Boyce played 21 Tests and 8 ODIs for West Indies cricket team and did not forget to leave his mark. He soon made his ODI debut against England on September 5, 1973.
He did not have a remarkably great career in the International side due to injuries and personal reasons but shone with his performances in every game that he played.
Cricket World Cup 1975
West Indies was at its peak back then. The team was fittingly balanced and boasted of distinguished players like Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards. While the World Cup of 1975 maybe be remembered by the scintillating innings by Clive Lloyd where he scored a quickfire 102 of 85 balls, Keith Boyce remained the unsung hero of that match. He became someone who everybody forgot as soon as the World Cup was over. West Indies was playing Australia in the finals of the Prudential World Cup of 1975.
West Indies were 209 for the loss of 6 wickets when Keith Boyce came into bat. Boyce's partnership with B. Julien meant West Indies were 261 for 7 when Keith Boyce fell for Thomson's delivery. He scored an attacking 37 of 34 balls and ended with the figures of, 12-0-50-4. A game West Indies managed to win by 17 runs. Keith Boyce played his last ODI 6 months later against the same team in Adelaide on December 20, 1975.
Injury and setbacks
Keith Boyce did not necessarily had all the luck in International Cricket but managed to draw everybody's attention in his County stint. Keith Boyce was named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1976.
Keith Boyce could have achieved more has his injured knee not ruined his consistent form. A natural athlete at his best, Keith Boyce had a very disturbing life after that, both professionally and personally.
Keith Boyce was an alcohol addict and parted ways with her wife because of personal behavior. His financial condition deteriorated and lost his house to a storm. He couldn't make a good come back to the team after that and served as a coach in Barbados Cricket Association.
He died on his birthday on his way to a drugstore. A legendary cricketer whole contribution washed away and only some remember his valuable contribution the to the game of cricket.
Boyce Keith might not make it to the same list where legends like Brian Lara, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Garfield Sobers, Lance Gibbs will, but will surely remember close to the heart of those who saw him play.