HAROLD JOSEPH was a household name in Trinidad and Tobago cricket during the late 1970s and early 1980s, as an ace spinner who bamboozled a lot of batsmen, both in the local and regional circuits.
Called “Joe” by his peers, Joseph, who took 75 wickets in 25 First-Class matches, earned a West Indies call-up for the 1981-82 tour of Australia but did not play a Test.
Born in Carapo village in Arima, on July 15 1956, Joseph spent a lot of childhood time at the nearby Santa Rosa Racetrack in Arima and, to this day, he is still a horseracing aficionado.
He dabbled in cricket, as well as football and table-tennis during his teenaged years before he joined Fulham Club in Arima in 1974. His skills were evident from the onset and he was called up to the East Zone team in the Wes Hall Youth Cricket League.
He made the TT youth team in 1975 and 1976 but he found the transition to the senior ranks to be a bit of a struggle.
Joseph did a lot of work in the nets, and also moved to the Crompton Club, which saw him claim over 100 domestic wickets, during the period 1978-1980, a return which guaranteed his spot on the national team on a permanent basis.
He took 18 wickets in the 1981 season, and was included in the WI team for Australia later that year.
In the first part of a two-part interview, Joseph reflected on his career, his life after cricket and the current state of WI cricket.
JOEL BAILEY (JB): You were recently honoured by Blackpool Sports Club…
HAROLD JOSEPH (HJ): That was last year, not this year. I received an award for my contribution to sport. I manage (their) football team and I also manage their cricket team. We’ve been playing (fete-match) football since 1988. I kept it going because, really and truly, I’m a footballer more than a cricketer, if you would want to believe that.
JB: How did you get into cricket?
HJ: It’s kind of an incredible story. I never liked cricket. I never even played cricket in school, Arima Secondary. I used to play a bit with the fellahs in the community, but nothing to talk about. It reached a stage where the guys asked me to come and play for the club down there, Burnley. I (then) went to play for Fulham, and the rest is basically history.
JB: Were you always a leg-spinner?
HJ: People called me a leg-spinner but I experimented with a lot of balls. I could actually bowl about six balls. But I still wasn’t too passionate about the game. I think I got passionate about the game on my way out. It was a lot of hard work because I always liked experimentation. What piqued my interest one time – I was going to TTEC trade school and I was reading an article on Sonny Ramadhin, how he could have bowled a leg-break with an off-break action. Not much people in the world was able to do that. Sunil Narine is the guy who mastered that now. I looked at it as a challenge. There was a guy in my village, he was a truck-loader, he used to come to the bar next door with a glass of rum on his head, and he used to dance all night. He was from the same village as Ramadhin. So I decided to experiment and I sort of mystified a lot of batsmen.
JB: How was the tour to Australia like?
HJ: It was good and it was bad. The good to me was being among such great players who I basically idolised over the years. It was bad in the sense that I didn’t get much playing time because it was difficult to get into a team with (Colin) Croft, (Joel) Garner, (Michael) Holding, (Andy) Roberts, (Malcolm) Marshall and Sylvester Clarke. I don’t think it enhanced my cricket to a certain extent. I came back and played for Trinidad.
JB: What about your passion for horse racing?
HJ: I was born a stone’s throw from the racetrack. It’s something that I cherish and I love up to this day. I’m still in contact with Michael Holding and he loves horse racing.
JB: After you retired you opened up a store in Tunapuna. Did you always wanted to be in business?
HJ: I worked in the (Arima) Borough Corporation for about 20 years but I always wanted to do my own business. One of my friends encouraged me because, at that time, I used to go to the States and play. We went to get some trophies for presentation and he suggested to me ‘why you don’t do that?’ instead of going to Port of Spain. Eventually I placed an order (to the US) and started up my business.
JB: In cricket, what was your most memorable moment(s)?
HJ: When (TT) won the (regional limited-overs) title in 1981. We went to Barbados to play the final and nobody gave us a chance, or nobody (thought) they could have carried me. Deryck (Murray) was the captain, he had some confidence for me. I bowled 10 overs, three wickets for seven runs. I remembered that vividly because we beat Barbados. They had all their stars.
JB: Your favourite player(s)?
HJ: There is never going to be another player like Vivian Richards. End of story. The closest thing I’ve seen to him is (Virat) Kohli. He’s out of this world. As far as the spin bowlers are concerned, I’m so disappointed that we cannot get Sunil Narine to play (Test) cricket for us. As far as I can see, there is only one bowler that could be a match-winner for the West Indies and that is Sunil.