Grave loss to Dominica's cricket
Dominica's cricket suffered a grave loss with the passing of Gifford Kelly Walsh early this month. Walsh's untimely death came as the result of a road accident while he was driving in the Macoucherie area. His services as national wicketkeeper marked him as one of the most outstanding wicket keepers this country has ever had, and beyond this he went on to serve with great diligence and distinction as an administrator, a capacity he occupied right up to the time of his passing which occurred just a week after his sixtieth birthday. I am indebted to former Dominica captain Lockhart Sebastien, whose career with the national team most closely paralleled Walsh's tenure on the field of play, for this interview.
What were Gifford Walsh's greatest strengths as a wicket keeper?
He was equally efficient while standing up to pace or spin and under all sorts of conditions. In fact, I would say simply that he was no less than brilliant in the way he adapted to any bowling we had. He was an asset who made his colleagues look good.
Was he good to the extent of influencing how opposing batsmen operated?
While I was captain he exerted the very valuable effect of limiting the freedom of batsmen. This he did by coming up to the stumps even for fast bowling. You can imagine the kind of pressure from a tactical angle, causing batsmen to completely alter their general approach to building an innings against us. They found themselves tied down, and placed us at a serious advantage.
In general terms did you enjoy batting with Walsh?
I will tell you of an instance when I personally benefitted from an outlook one can only describe as selfless. We were playing a tight match against St. Vincent and we needed runs to put us in the driver's seat. For some odd reason Gifford somehow failed to respond for a straightforward single. When he realized I was about to be run out, he quickly speeded up to sacrifice his wicket. Net result was our winning the match and the Windward's tournament. You couldn't get a player with a more dedicated team spirit.
Wonderful! But shouldn't he have shone better with the bat in terms of his obvious potential?
Frankly, I played with him in youth cricket and later on for Dominica senior national team and knew his great potential. However, he had the means to do much better than he did with the bat. Mark you; one was overwhelmingly happy that his concentration and focus behind the stumps was irreplaceable.
How much was he affected by being in the shadow of someone like Mike Findlay for a place behind the stumps for Windward Islands?
As a cricketer he realized the plain fact of a limitation on the extent of opportunities he would get. Simply, there were other keepers who were established ahead of him. This did not prevent him from serving Dominica brilliantly and unselfishly.
Purely as a glove man how did he rate alongside of Augustus Gregoire and other outstanding performers?
Purely as a keeper he was not far behind anyone. He did his level best on every occasion and proved extremely efficient and effective. He consistently proved his worth to Dominica at a time when we dominated Windward's cricket consistently.
He did not play at a time there was much limited over's cricket. Was he adaptable enough to have made it in one day engagements at regional level?
Gifford was very adaptable and his generally aggressive instincts would have rendered him quite an asset. As a batsman he could be orthodox while retaining an accent on improvising when quick runs would be needed.
Did his formal academic education play a role in his cricket development?
Yes. As you would know both he and I came through in youth cricket. That was at a time when the secondary school principals encouraged us to excel at sports.
As an administrator with the Dominica Cricket Association, how comfortable was Gifford Walsh in the boardroom?
He remained a very good man in the boardroom. Certainly he could be expected to have differences of opinion with anyone. After arguing his point of view he would let matters rest in a professional manner. In addition he could be depended upon to keep confidential matters sacred.
Any of his interests touched on ushering in the next generation of stellar players for Dominica?
His interest in youth cricket never abated and he assisted with the under 19 squad. But his prime responsibility as national events coordinator took up much of his time. However, he served as a national selector up to the time of his passing.
The Gifford Walsh legacy – how do you see it?
He will be remembered as a brilliant keeper and an outstanding administrator
Are we of the view that Gifford Walsh was modern in his outlook in dealing with current day cricketers?
Certainly. He was very knowledgeable with financial and disciplinary issues, and his values as a selector were entirely trustworthy.
Women's cricket, any special outlook there?
Very much so. His wife serves as manager of the national women's cricket team and is on assignment to help coordinate this more recent phase of our cricket development. He was involved very much here.
There is no gainsaying Gifford Walsh will be missed on the Dominica cricket scene and you personally will feel the void his passing creates.
He is already missed as I speak. The West Indies Women's Tournament is scheduled to take place here shortly. Such has been his strength of commitment; he would take leave from his employment to ensure that international events are extremely well addressed in order to secure for Dominica a good name both regionally and internationally.