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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Barbados greats give a little back
By Soutik Biswas
BBC News, Barbados

The official head-quarters of Cricket Legends of Barbados
The official head-quarters of Cricket Legends of Barbados

A group of 41 former cricketers from Barbados, including some famous names, is clubbing together to help former team-mates who have fallen on hard times.

The organisation, Cricket Legends of Barbados, will also promote the game on the island, and stars a glittering roll-call of members.

Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Joel Garner will all lend their time.

One of the group, former wicket-keeper David Allan, said there was one former star which the group was already targeting for assistance, but declined to name him.

Barbados has produced more stars for West Indies than any other island.

Prime Minister Owen Arthur, an ardent cricket fan, has personally donated US$150,000, an amount that has been matched by local hoteliers.

And the government has spent $2.3m on renewing a derelict house to serve as the headquarters for the venture.

Allan told the BBC: "The main objective is to raise money to promote cricket, mainly school cricket. We will all chip in.

"Sir Gary and Wes Hall and other legends have a lot to offer youngsters in cricket knowledge and attitude."

Charlie Griffith
Former West Indies paceman Charlie Griffith is a supporter

Former fast bowler Griffith said the stars were giving away all their memorabilia - including photographs and used sports gear - to the organisation.

"All this in future will be relevant for research and for anybody interested in cricket and visiting Barbados," he said.

The club will have a bar and restaurant where former stars will mingle with guests, and memorabilia will be sold from a mini-museum.

One cricket historian warned that Cricket Legends of Barbados needed to go about its work seriously.

Boria Majumdar said: "While this has immense potential, it should not meet the fate of the Cricket Club of India which is also made up of Indian legends but has now degenerated into an elitist institution in Mumbai.

"The cricket is secondary, so is working to develop cricket and helping cricketers."

Cricketers around the world - and often in South Asia - have led hard lives after their retirements.

In India, former wicket-keeper JG Navle was reduced to begging on streets in the 1950s to stay afloat.

DD Hindlekar, another former wicket-keeper, died of tuberculosis virtually without treatment, when he was just 40.

Much nearer to Barbados, one of the most fearsome Jamaican fast bowlers, Roy Gilchrist, died a near pauper in Jamaica in 2001.

The challenge for the legends is to make sure that cricketers from Barbados, the most prosperous of all the Caribbean islands, do not meet such a fate.

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