Last man standing
By by Harold Eastmond In Port of Spain | Wed, February 12, 2014 - 12:00 AM
Floyd Reifer’s announcement last week that he would be retiring from first-class cricket at the end of the regional season in April has effectively brought to end an era.
Reifer is the “last man standing” from the “old brigade” of first-class cricketers, nurtured under the guidance of previous stars Desmond Haynes and Malcolm Marshall, in addition to those who flourished under the leadership of Courtney Browne.
Reifer entered the Barbados squad way back in 1992 when Haynes, Marshall, Carlisle Best, Ezra Moseley and Winston Reid were still part of the set-up. He played alongside Vasbert Drakes Ottis Gibson, Philo Wallace, Sherwin Campbell, Ian Bradshaw and others in Browne’s team which was dominant in the late 1990s.
The former Lodge School batting prodigy switched allegiance to Combined Campuses and Colleges in 2006 to play the role of player/coach.
In the last eight years he has also put in place a framework for student cricketers to gain exposure and opportunities at the Cave Hill Campus.
After two decades in the game, leaving was quite emotional for Reifer.
“It is hard to say goodbye, but it has to be done. This is my last season playing and I am going to enjoy it. I will go out and compete as I always do and look to make my contribution to the CCC cause.
“I am still going to look for those scores and try to help develop the players in the team, who come from all around the region.
“I am still going to play club cricket in Barbados but my main role will be to continue to develop players for West Indies cricket.”
A tall, slim left-hander with a flat-top hairstyle when he first made his mark, Reifer made his first-class debut against Trinidad and Tobago back in the 1992 season.
He had shown glimpses of his class while playing for The Lodge School and the Barbados Under-19 teams before he was called up for national duty.
Growing up in St George, he was surrounded by cricket – three uncles, Leslie, George and Elvis, all represented Barbados in the 1980s.
“We played all types of cricket . . . I played with the bigger guys and as I grew older I started to compete and show my worth and get recognition.
“At Lodge there was a rich culture of cricket and sports and there were very good facilities and infrastructure,” Reifer recalled.
“It was always a bit of pressure with my uncles who played. To follow them was a bit of pressure but I could handle it and I enjoyed representing Barbados and giving all I had for my country.”
When Reifer went to Trinidad for his first match something happened – he saw a young Brian Lara preparing for the match and it was a lifelong message he received.
“When we came down to Queen’s Park Oval for practice I saw Brian in the nets and you could tell he was there for a while, he was sweating. When we got together as a team we went to warm up. We batted, we bowled, we did fielding and when we finished he was still batting,” Reifer said.
“That is something I had never seen before. In the game the only way we got him out was run out, and that left a great memory. I said, ‘If this guy can prepare like that and be so successful then we have to tailor our preparation like that’.
“I took that lesson with me through my career and into my time as coach at UWI and CCC.
“I felt good to be in the Barbados team in those early days and I learned a lot from those around me – men who did extremely well for Barbados and West Indies.
“All I try to do now is share that knowledge with the players I have around me and try to help them develop into better cricketers.”
Reifer’s love for the game and his commitment to his country almost cost him his life on the cricket field. Back in 2005 he collided with teammate Martin Nurse while attempting a high catch. The accident left Reifer with a concussion and he had to be hospitalised.
He had to undergo four surgeries and did not play for a year.
That incident happened a week after he played through the pain of a swollen ankle to help Barbados beat Guyana away from home.
“I was told I was unconscious for 45 seconds to a minute – one minute of my life I will never remember what happened. It was devastating. The doctor said I could have died from neck injuries because of the way the accident happened.
“It was a very tough period for me being out of cricket for a year, an entire year without income, as a young man; it was very, very difficult. It was the grace of God and the inner strength I developed that helped me to make it through.
“I have to thank my family and my wife Amanda – who was my girlfriend at the time. They stood by me and helped me to make it back to a normal life and back onto the cricket field.
“Eventually, I bounced back. Richard Straker helped me a lot as well. I had to learn to walk again. I was like a baby . . . had to learn to crawl, to walk and then to run again.
“It was a long painful, painful, painful period in my life. But I bounced back and then the team and hierarchy at CCC gave me this wonderful opportunity to be part of this programme and I want to thank them as well.”
Reifer has the honour of having the highest aggregate both in the Regional Four-Day competition which started in 1966 and regional 50-over cricket since 1976. In the Regional Four-Day, Reifer has amassed 6 667 runs in 125 matches from 224 innings at an average of 32.20 with 12 centuries, with 200 against the Windward Islands at Kensington Oval in 1997 his highest score.
After the recent Nagico Super50 game at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, Reifer had played 95 regional One-Day games. He has compiled 2 723 runs in 91 innings with a top score of 130 versus Trinidad and Tobago at Providence in Guyana, with three centuries at an average of 34.91.
In International cricket he has played six Tests and eight One-Day Internationals with moderate success. In two of his six Tests he was captain of the West Indies team against Bangladesh in 2009.
Reifer’s first-class record at present stands at 151 matches – 7 608 runs at an average of 31.08 with 13 centuries and 41 fifties and he has taken 156 catches.
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