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Cricket legends thrill fans during eventful weekend in Fort Lauderdale

West Indies cricket legend Lance Gibbs, center, poses for a photo with fans during the second annual Cricket Legends Weekend at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, on Sunday, March 6, 2016.
West Indies cricket legend Lance Gibbs, center, poses for a photo with fans during the second annual Cricket Legends Weekend at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Miami Herald Staff

The second annual gathering of cricket legends in South Florida was again filled with games, fun, laughter and poignant moments.

In one corner of the Central Broward Regional Park press box was 80-year-old West Indies cricket icon Rohan Kanhai chatting with an excited fan who witnessed one of Kanhai’s famous “falling hook” shots many years ago at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.

“My bottom is still hurting me,” joked Kanhai, a native of Guyana who now lives in England.

On the other side, 81-year-old former West Indies spin bowler Lance Gibbs autographs a photo of a young Gibbs in mid-delivery during a match. “You see that?” Gibbs asked the fan, admiring his own bowling form. “Look at that — flight and variation!”

Cricket fans again got a chance to interact with their heroes of yesteryear during the three-day Cricket Legends Weekend on March 4-6 in Fort Lauderdale. The hairs were grayer and the waistlines are not as svelte as they were in their heydey, but legends from Joel Garner, Alvin Kallicharran and Larry Gomes to Andy Roberts, Desmond Haynes, Gibbs and Kanhai mingled with fans and reminisced.

The event was organized again by former West Indies cricket star Lawrence Rowe, a South Florida resident. Proceeds benefited Rowe’s foundation, which tutors at-risk youths, provides scholarships and raises funds to assist retired cricketers who have fallen on hard times. This year’s recipient was former Barbados and West Indies cricketer Seymour Nurse, who is 82 and battling health problems.

Garner, the former West Indies fast bowler who now works for the ministry of sports in his native Barbados, enjoyed reuniting with fellow legends.

“Anything at all to do with charity we will always support,” he said. “We’re here together with a lot of old friends. We enjoy each other’s company. We meet up maybe two-three times a year.”

Another West Indies legend, Brian Lara, was the keynote speaker during the Gala dinner Saturday, March 5, at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale. Meanwhile, Haynes entertained the crowd with an impression of reggae star Beres Hammond that thrilled the crowd. A moment of silence was also held for three former cricketers who died over the past year: Richard Austin, Basil Williams and Stephen Camacho.

On Sunday at Central Broward Regional Park, there were two exhibition cricket matches, the latter pitting a U.S. Cavaliers team against a West Indies Legends squad.

The Cavaliers batted first and scored 125 for 7 in 20 overs. The Legends, captained by former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh, easily surpassed that score with 131 for 2 in 18.4 overs. Ramnaresh Sarwan top-scored with 70 runs not out and Lara added 24 not out.

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