My father, Alvadow Basil Williams, more familiarly known as Basil ‘Shotgun’ Williams was born on November 21, 1949 of Caymanas, St. Catherine. He was the 2nd oldest of 9.
Basil attended St. Catherine High School and was quite a proud person from a young age. So he started to look into his future from very early in order to seek better opportunities for himself, especially because he had to stop high school in 4th form.
He played cricket for Jamaica Youths and Senior Cup Cricket for St. Catherine Cricket Club as a Middle-order Right-hand Batsman. He then became a member of Jamaica’s Under-19 Cricket team and quickly moved on to the Jamaica Cricket team in 1970. His debut performance in the middle order was disappointing, but he never gave up on his dream. He ensured he was on point for his 2nd chance in 1977 in a more adaptable spot to him, as an opener.
Basil continued to play well, taking a good look at the situation then pulling the trigger, using his wrist to generate powerful shots that would echo around the park, hence the name SHOTGUN. He later earned his spot to play with the West Indies in 1978 with a solid regional first class season. At this time, all International cricket was affected by the Packer intervention, meaning the defection of many leading players to Kerry Packers’ World Series Cricket. The Shell Shield was affected as well. So players like my father, Richard Austin, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge and Sylvester Clarke capitalised on the opportunity to make their marks in International Cricket by excelling in the Shell Shield matches. I can say proudly that my father, Shotgun was the biggest scorer, firing 399 runs at an average of 79.8!
Now with the West Indies, how did his debut go this time? With an aggressive and attacking approach, he is in the history books as one of the elite few players to score a century on his debut versus Australia. He ended that series with 257 runs!
I keep hearing and seeing that he played against a depleted Australian side in Guyana for that debut, probably giving reason to such an impressive performance. But his talent, brilliant batting style and subsequent performances, prove such assumptions invalid. He was consistent and rarely misfired. Furthermore, he scored 111 versus the best of India in 1979 at Eden Gardens, Calcutta, matching skills with some of the very best in the game.
Basil played 7 tests for the West Indies between 1978 and 1979, that included two entertaining centuries. He had an impressive test average of 39.08 and an average of 36.02 in the regional first class game. They said he was then discarded. Though it was the reality I am sure he would prefer the choice of a better word. In those times, the competition was stiff, with a better, more talented pool of players. So whether the outcome of the new selection was good or bad, talented players like my father were left behind, but he made such an impact during his short tenure, I am sure many wondered, WHAT IF. What if he continued to play with the West Indies.
Either way, his passion for the sport continued with his career in local cricket, including his Captaincy of the Jamaica Cricket team.
I was happy to hear the West Indies Cricket Board President, Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron express in his Press release after Dad passed, that ‘Basil was a tough, but fair captain and a no-nonsense guy’. That is indeed very true. Daddy would always say persons loved to call him ‘BOASY’. To him, he had reason to be. You could be the best player on the squad, but if you failed to have a certain level of discipline that he knew might affect the quality of your game and if he had the power to, sometimes he did, he would let you know that you would not be playing in the upcoming match. He knew his consistency and success not only came with natural talent but discipline, practice and hard work and he wanted to see players under his tutelage acquire similar results doing just that. He was a winner and taught me and my two brothers to be winners as well, with the same fiery, competitive spirit. He was a role model and teacher to many and genuinely wanted to see persons be the best they could be.
Shotgun retired from the Jamaica team in 1986 on a high note and remained involved in the sport as a Selector, Board member, Team manager and of course had a few knocks in Club Cricket before he migrated to the US.
The Jamaica Cricket Association and Kensington Cricket Club of which he played such a big part of, will miss him. I know some persons may miss that random phone call with him cursing about a disappointing West Indies innings or giving his opinions on what persons in various positions of power should be doing. He would have made an entertaining, humorous, yet controversial commentator.
He always went out to bat with NO FEAR, whether it was a fast or spin bowler. One of the times he was ill this year, he said to me, ‘Don’t worry Gabby, whenever the pitch gets slippery, I always have to go out and bat’. He walked out to the ambulance October 25, 2015, the day he died of a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.
Rest in Peace CAP!
By: Gabrielle Williams