Former pacer Winston Benjamin was once regarded as the next big thing of the West Indies cricket team. But luck wasn’t on his side as he could only feature in 21 Tests and 85 ODIs for his country in a start-stop career that spanned around nine years.
But after the curtains were brought over his international career, things haven’t been as rosy as it could have been. Benjamin now earns a humble sum of $70 as daily wages for fixing sight screens and boundary boards at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua.
“Playing for West Indies never fazed me or changed who I was. Back then, the WICB would pay you 30 per cent of what you’d earned throughout as part of a provident fund when you retired. I only played a handful of Tests and there wasn’t a lot in the kitty. So I needed a job and a man got to do what a man got to do," Benjamin was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
“And now I still have two kids who I need to put through university and every dollar counts," he added.
Benjamin was also quoted as saying that he was never given a chance to shine at the highest level. He was anyway down the pecking order as during that point of time, West Indies had the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh in their ranks. But whenever he got the ball in hand, Benjamin said that he wasn’t given the due respect which he deserved.
“I would play a Test match and bowl 7 overs or 2 overs in a Test innings. I played against Australia and got two wickets, (David) Boon and Mark Waugh in three overs and I was removed from the attack. I never got the new ball and that chance to really express myself. So it’s always the old ball. It’s always, come and break a partnership, and it hurts but that was my role and I learnt to deal with it," Benjamin told The Indian Express.
“Most of my ODIs came in the subcontinent or in Trinidad and Guyana. Go to Jamaica with something in the wicket, I am on the bench. I took 12 wickets at 12 in 1988 in England and then they take me to Australia where I didn’t play a single Test. There were some highs though, like my tussle with Kapil Dev in my debut Test and saving West Indies from losing a series with a 40 against Pakistan in Barbados," said Benjamin who picked up 100 ODI wickets for West Indies.
Benjamin also revealed that he became a fast bowler to prove a point to his school mates as his father wanted him to become a batsman.
“I batted and kept wickets in school before being struck under the arm-pit in one game. Then in assembly, that injury was reported and everyone laughed at me. My combative nature didn’t let me take that lying down, and I said it’s time to doff the gloves and give it back. That’s how I became a fast bowler," Benjamin concluded.