Inshan Ali hailed from a tiny Trinidad village called Preysal. He bowled consistently confounding big-spinning wrist spinners.
So bamboozling were his each-way breaks one day in the 1973 Trinidad Test, that after two or three plays and misses, Australia’s captain Ian Chappell lobbed back a return catch. Inshan always prized that wicket as the most cherished of his life, especially as it came at Queen’s Park, in front of his hometown fans.
Garry Sobers regarded the diminutive left-armer as ‘prodigiously gifted’ who deserved to play more than 12 Tests.
‘Inshan was a great tourist and even in difficult moments on tour would have the team laughing,’ he said.
‘I will always remember the passion with which he loved representing Trinidad and Tobago and his home club Preysal about which he boasted could beat the West Indies at Preysal.’
Lovingly-written in 2014 by his sister Shafeeza Ali-Motilal, The Pride of Preysal,the Inshan Ali story(150 pages) is full of anecdote and favourite moments.
From his mid-teens he was being paraded as the West Indies’ ‘next Sonny Ramadhin’ and his pathway to stardom was made easy by his sheer talent.
Contributions from old friends and teammates are a highlight, his old spin partner Raphick Jumadeen remembering how cross their captain Joey Carew was one day at Queen’s Park when he arrived to find Inshan and Jumadeen bowling at the opposition Jamaican players leading into the final morning’s play. Having been suitably chastised, Inshan quipped to Jumadeen: ‘Don’t worry Jumas, we’ll bowl them out.’ And they did, sharing all 10 wickets as Trinidad won easily.
Inshan died young, at 45. This lovely tribute reminds us of his sheer genius.
* Available from cricketbooks.com.au, $50