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Bernard Julian Revives Career On And Off Field

By Orin Davidson

Bernard Julian was a talented West Indian cricketer of his era.

But to many fans and himself, he never fulfilled his potential to the maximum in the 1970s

But in the 2000s he is deriving more fulfillment than he could’ve possibly had as the star all-rounder he promised to be.

“I think I got ill to help people. God made me stopped smoking and in turn I have influenced so many people to stop smoking, you would not believe how much pleasure it gives,” said Julian who is recovering from throat cancer.

Presently in New York for a benefit game in his honor, Julian says he feels blessed by the Lord and wants to give back to society as much as possible.

Once upon a time, he was a heavy smoker and suffered the consequences which succumbed two of his Test team mates Roy Fredericks and Inshan Ali.

But unlike the former late opening batsman and leg spinner, Julian was saved in the nick of time through surgery which halted the disease before it became fatal.

He has since regained his voice and lost the pain after the procedure done in his native Trinidad and Tobago where he is now dedicating his life to helping people on and off the field.

The right hand batsman and left arm seam bowler has so far embarked on a no -smoking campaign and is the head coach at the Trinidad and Tobago cricket academy known as the Cricket Center.

He does no-smoking advertisements on television and radio and is over the moon with the success he is having.

“iT gives me no ends of pleasure when people meet me and say I caused them to stop smoking. Even people who don’t know me as a cricketer are influenced. I am known as the no-smoking guy,” explained Julian.

In his day Julian was a specialist swing bowler and a batsman who some fans felt enjoyed life in the fast lane more than his dedication to the sport.

However, it was not the sole cause for a premature international career which went no further than 24 Tests and 12 One Day Internationals, aided by a stint with Kent in the English County championships.

At the time he seemed to have the world at his feet when the Kerry Packer series came into being.

However, the advent of Packer triggered his career demise, in stark contrast to the many careers that bloomed from it.

Julian said disillusionment at being left out of the West Indies Packer team precipitated the end of his competitive days.

“I did not know about it until I read about my exclusion in the newspapers like everybody else,” he said. “Then I was required to do promotion for the series which left a bitter taste in the mouth even though I declined.”

He never had the motivation to work hard to regain his place subsequently, and his career quickly petered out.

“I did not have a coach or a manager like the players these days have, to talk to me. I was on my own and gave up too easily,” he explained.

Julian believed he was a better batsman than a bowler although his bowling averaged 37 runs per wicket from his 50 Test scalps and batted at number eight.

But anyone who saw or followed his career highlight, would agree his batting was his main calling.

It was against England at Lords in 1973 when Julian stroked his way to 121 runs off only 127 balls in partnership with none other than the great Sir Garry Sobers.

The stand yielded 231 runs of which Sobers’ contribution was 150 and Julian was thrust into stardom where he readily indulged in the delights on and off the field.

Later on he was a member of the West Indies squad on the tumultuous 1975/76 tour of Australia.

“It was one tour no one there will ever forget, the Australians thoroughly outplayed us and it was a lesson for everyone.”

The final score read 5 Tests to 1 in the home team’s favor but Julian enjoyed his second best career highlight in the Sydney game.

The pace of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson, supported by Max Walker and Gary Gilmore was almost unplayable, yet Julian accepted an opportunity to open the batting when specialists were less inclined.

“One or two ducked out, not because of fear for the pace, but due to lack of confidence,” explained Julian who wanted to play so badly he was rewarded with the opening slot for his enthusiasm.

“I went on to score 46 not out batting with a broken thumb after opening with Roy Fredericks, which is another innings I will not forget,” said Julian who had to retire hurt but returned to do battle in a role he never did.

His career only lasted four additional Tests and although he felt he could’ve done much better, Julian feels he is happy now to help players reach their maximum potential in his second career as a coach.

So far, the Carenage born and bred all-rounder, says he has worked with current West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who knows a thing or two about swing bowling along with Richard Kelly and Ryad Emrit of the Trinidad national team.

But he is dismayed at the lack of professionalism displayed by the current West Indies players. “ Cricket is played much in the head, the Australians do that very well, but our players don’t think the game as they should as professionals,” he lamented.

“The many injuries you see today are from a lack of individual preparation because the players don’t work enough on their fitness in the off-season.”

As for the fast bowlers, Julian said, speed means little if they cannot swing the ball.

And he would gladly swap positions with Benneth King to give Fidel Edwards and company the opportunity to enjoy the joys of in-swing and out-swing.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage


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