The saga of Uton Dowe

You might not have heard of the West Indian cricketer  Uton Dowe. Not surprising, as he played only 4 Tests in the early 1970s without great success. As we will see, he did lend his name to some of the better remembered PJs in cricket.

A summary of his cricket career:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/51653.html

At least his picture is there, unlike in many of the Cricinfo profiles of lesser-known players.

It is evident that he was not much of a batsman, so we move to his Test bowling performances:

dowe-bowling

His first Test was at Bridgetown vs India in 1970-71, the series which marked India’s first Test and series wins against the West Indies. This was the 4th Test of the series, and it is worthwhile to look at the scorecard: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63069.html

Dowe took the wickets of Gavaskar (1), Krishnamurthy (1) and Jaisimha (0) to help reduce India to 70/6 facing a WI total of 501. This was the only time in 8 innings in this series that Gavaskar scored less than 50, so this was quite an achievement on Dowe’s part.

In those days the Indian lower order were not expected to stage comebacks, but times had changed and Sardesai (150), Solkar (65) and even Venkat and Bedi contributed to a total of 347. The match ended tamely with Gavaskar making his second Test century (117*). Dowe finished with 4/69 and 1/22. He again played in the 5th Test with less success, with 2/99 and 0/55. West Indies narrowly escaped defeat and a 2-0 series loss here.

Now we come to the Gavaskar calypso:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V2UUuKcIeA

Note this stanza in which our friend Uton Dowe figures:

“Govindraj and Durani
Solkar, Abid Ali
Dilip Sardesai and Viswanath
They make West Indies bowlers
Look like second raters
When those fellas came out here to bat
West Indies tried Holder and Keith Boyce
They had no other choice
They even try with Uton Dowe
But ah sure that they sorry they bring him now

Anyway, he played 2 more Tests. Against NZ in the first Test of the 1971-72 series, he took 3-75 and 1-46 and was not seen again in the Test side for that series. Incidentally that 5-Test series was all-drawn. This is the 4th and last time this has happened, and the only such series not involving India.

He was to play one more Test, which was against Australia in 1972-73. This time he took 1-96 and 0-72, while Keith Stackpole took a particular liking to his bowling:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63100.html

It was not surprising that this ended up in his Cricinfo profile:

Prone to being wildly erratic, he was mauled by Keith Stackpole to such an extent in the Jamaican Test of 1972-73 that the crowd erected a series of banners proclaiming an 11th commandment: “Dowe shalt not bowl.”

He did not play international cricket after that. But he should have the satisfaction of having his name immortalized in a calypso and an entry in any book of famous cricketing slogans.

A more detailed account of cricket calypsos (the 1950 one and the 1971 one) can be seen here: https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/down-memory-lane-the-cricket-calypsos-of-1950-and-1971/

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Down memory lane: the cricket calypsos of 1950 and 1971

Veteran cricket watchers would have heard these at some time or the other. Now they are easily available on the net.

The most famous cricket calypso would be “Cricket, lovely cricket” composed by Lord Kitchener and sung here by Lord Beginner.

A little background here. The West Indies was then a group of colonies firmly under the Union Jack, with the general conditions as well as racial discrimination being what you would expect from the British at that time. The West Indies had been playing Tests since 1928 and had shown a lot of improvement after a whitewash in their first series. By 1950 they had won a few Tests and even a series against England in 1948. But they had never won a Test in England.

The trend looked set to continue when the first Test was won by England by a big margin: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62709.html

Ramadhin and Valentine made their debuts, the latter taking 8 wickets in the first innings and 3 in the second (besides a pair). Ramadhin had a less impressive 2 wickets in each innings.

Then came the second Test-at Lord’s, no less. Now hear it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06P0RdZyjT4

and see the scorecard: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62710.html

Or better, still, see the scorecards of the whole series here: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1950S/1950/WI_IN_ENG/

This famous picture was taken just after the end: http://caribbean-beat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/style-1_0.jpg

Lord Kitchener is the one with the guitar. It is said that he composed the song within 30 minutes and led the troupe of West Indian fans dancing through London celebrating the victory. A more detailed account can be seen here: http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-100/triumph-calypso-cricket#axzz3Q7iVHLC9

Years passed and the West Indies team rose to greater heights. Most of the colonies became independent countries. But the team had its ups and downs – as in 1971. But there still was a calypso there. In case you need to refresh your memory, see the series scorecards here: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1970S/1970-71/IND_IN_WI/

It was, in a sense, Indian cricket’s coming of age as it was the first time they had won a Test series against one of the big powers away from home. There was, of course, the 3-1 victory in New Zealand in 1968 which was not given much importance.

In fact, India had never won a Test (let alone a series) against the West Indies until then. And they did not win a Test against them in India until 1974-75 and a series against them in India until 1978-79.

Here is the calypso, composed by Lord Relator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V2UUuKcIeA

and the lyrics:   http://andynarell.net/calypso/lyrics/1gav.html

(Note the PJ about Uton Dowe)

Do not pay too much attention to the visuals as they seem to have been hastily put together much later-you can see Roberts, Holding and Chandrashekhar and others (Alan Knott!) who were not part of the series.

There may have been other cricket-based songs later on, but these are probably the best known. There are a few famous poems as well.