THE VALLEY, Anguilla, CMC – Former West Indies all-rounder Omari Banks has recalled his role in the Caribbean side’s record run chase 17 years ago, which propelled the Brian Lara-unit to a historic win over Australia in Antigua.
The Anguillian, who had made his debut as a fledgling 20-year-old just a week earlier in Bridgetown, struck an excellent unbeaten 47 as West Indies chased down a world-record 418 to win the fourth Test at the storied Antigua Recreation Ground.
The anniversary of the famous victory, the only one for the Windies in the four-match series, came five days ago.
“It was a great match and a wonderful feeling to win,” said Banks, who anchored an unbroken 48-run, eighth wicket stand with Vasbert Drakes (28 not out) to see West Indies over the line.
“We played a great game as a team. It was a great victory for West Indies and to do it against a really good Australian attack with Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath was something amazing. I was happy with my overall performance.
“It was just my second match and I managed to get a good score. I wanted to make my contribution … as a newcomer I wanted to make a statement to show I could play at that level.”
Early in Banks’s career, he was nominated as the world Young Player-of-the-Year alongside prolific South African left-hander Graeme Smith and outstanding England seamer James Anderson.
The first player from Anguilla to represent the West Indies, Banks went on to play 10 Tests and five One-Day Internationals before losing his place in the Caribbean side in 2005, and calling time on his playing career six years later.
In the interim, Banks also enjoyed stints in the English County system with Leicestershire and Somerset.
Now 37, he has since turned his attention to being a guitar-strumming “messenger for music, focussing all his energies on entertaining fans as a musician, singer and songwriter of note.
He has already penned several songs and said he wants to continue reaching his audience with his music.
“I grew up around music, it was always there, music was always part of my life,” he explained.
“I was blessed to play first class cricket from as early as age 17, and throughout my cricket career I took my music with me. “I have a message in my music – a message of peace and love. When I write songs I can relate to how you dealt with it on the field. Cricket taught me a lot of lessons and built really good relationships.
“It also taught me character building and my reflections on my times on the field continue to help me in my quests to create more music.”
He added: “With my dad being a musician in Anguilla, everybody expected me to go into music. But as I got to my teenage years I was good at cricket as well, and sometimes as a kid you want to chart your own course – whether that be consciously or subconsciously – and I went into cricket.
“I was obsessed with it. I used to carry my guitar with me on tour and I would use music as a means of relaxation. I have always had a love for different kinds of music. The general music I create is reggae, but the influence of other genres comes into it.”