Moseley, the rebel who wishes he had stopped playing earlier

For someone who made his West Indies debut aged 32 and lost seven of his best years serving a ban for being part of the 1982-83 rebel tour of apartheid-era South Africa, Ezra Moseley serves up a curveball when he talks about regrets: He wants to have played not more, but fewer games.

“Only a couple of months ago, when I did the Level 3 coaching course, I was saying to the instructors, I wish I’d taken up coaching earlier. Maybe stopped playing earlier and coached, because I have a love for coaching,” he tells Wisden India.

Moseley, a pace bowler and now assistant coach with the West Indies women’s team, which is on tour in India, featured in two Tests and nine One-Day Internationals in 1990-91. He finished with 13 international wickets and a reputation, having broken Graham Gooch’s hand. In his first-class career, which lasted a fruitful ten years, he had 279 wickets from 76 games.

“I always say that I wish I could swap those nine ODIs for Tests because one-day cricket is a hit-or-miss thing. But I enjoyed when I played for West Indies. I also played for Glamorgan in the English County Championship and I also played cricket in South Africa for Eastern Province and Northern Transvaal, so my career was a decent one. I wish it could have been longer at the first-class level. But that is what it is,” he says before adding that early retirement may not have been such a bad thing. “If that (having fewer internationals against his name) had to be the case, I wouldn’t mind,” he says. “I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy playing for West Indies, because that’s every young man’s goal in the Caribbean. But when I retired, it really dawned on me that I really had a love for coaching.”

Moseley was one of 18 West Indians, under the captaincy of Lawrence Rowe, who went to a turbulent, racially divided South Africa to play one of Ali Bacher’s controversial rebel tours. Their defiance of the sports boycott on South Africa caused outrage back home and they were slapped with life bans. It is still an emotive subject in the Caribbean.

“There are certain things you do and once you do them, you always take responsibility for the things that you do,” says Moseley. “To say that I regret going there, I don’t know, may upset some people. That’s something I don’t really want to talk about, not now, but I would just like to say that going to South Africa has given me two sons.” Prodded, he says he’s just become a grandfather, but he leaves it at that and a big, open laugh. “You can read between the lines!”

But for Moseley, nobody who went on that tour ever played for West Indies again. Even the likes of Franklyn Stephenson, an allrounder who accumulated 8622 runs and 792 first-class wickets from 219 appearances and was a record-breaker for Nottinghamshire, didn’t make the cut.

Moseley thinks his own case was different because he kept fit. “I always felt that if the ban were lifted, I would have been able to make the team, because I always believed in my ability. And during those seven years, I never stopped training. I always trained hard, and when the ban was lifted (in 1989), I was ready to play. I came back and played for Barbados and I did well and I was drafted into the West Indies team,” he says.

“I was still good enough at age 32 to play. I kept myself fit. The selectors thought that I was good enough and I don’t think I disappointed them at all.”

Now, at 58, Moseley is enjoying giving back through coaching, having just completed his Level 3 course in Barbados. “With each passing tour, I look to bring good energy to the team, lend my experience to the team so we can get better,” he says.

He took up his present role with the women’s team four years ago under Sherwin Campbell, and has now developed a good working relationship with Vasbert Drakes, the head coach who followed Campbell.

“[Campbell] did a wonderful job in bringing the ladies to the level that they were four years ago. When Vasbert came on, we wanted to take the team to another level. I think we’ve done that so far and winning the World Cup (World T20) this year has proven that.”

With some way for the ladies to go in the 50-over game, his priority is inculcating mental and physical fitness. “When I came into the side, I realised that the team was not as fit as it should be … We’ve gotten them a lot fitter and we strive to get them even fitter. What we are trying to focus on in the next couple of months is the mental aptitude.”

A lot of what he brings to his role is a discipline he learnt through playing cricket outside the Caribbean. “Playing county cricket, you got involved with cricketers who were doing this on a daily basis. So it brought out the professionalism in me. You had to be punctual. You were in control of your own destiny and if you didn’t do that, you suffered the consequences. And that moulded a lot of young cricketers who went to England to play.

“[In league cricket as a professional] on many weekends, I would bowl 24 overs from one end and then have to bat at No. 4. Again, you had to be fit, you had to be disciplined.

“If you go to England, to play any form of cricket and you don’t learn anything, you are what we call a ‘duncy’ cricketer, a stupid cricketer. We feel that once you go to England and play cricket, because of the conditions, you must learn how to cope as a batter. And as a bowler, you have to bowl the right line and length, whereas in the West Indies, you bang the ball in short and it flies past the batsman’s head. So we believe that any standard of cricket you play in England, you should improve – mentally, physically, emotionally. If you go to England today, I expect six months down the line, when you come back to Barbados, you would have learnt a lot, you would have been a well-rounded cricketer and a better person.”

This article first appeared in Wisden India.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *