Gordon Brooks
West Indies cricket website - Windies Cricket


A story is really nothing in the absence of words and sentences woven to convey a tale that makes sense and drives purpose. But is that all?

What if there was no story-teller?

What if there was no one who would use his imagination to build an imagery, whether about a person, place or event in a bid to present to you a narrative you had absolutely no idea about?

It’s like seeing grandpa getting nostalgic whilst recollecting the majestic culinary talent of your late grandma, narrating how wonderfully she’d prepare rice curry, smoked salmon or the Cassava Pone when your mum lays over the dining table something utterly delectable.

So what if grandpa was never there to tell you how wonderful your grandma really was?

Let’s delve into another example.

To many of us youngsters living in post-independent India, the only recollection and knowledge we have about that era is down to documentaries, books, photographs that are around us and real-life stories of heartbreak and jubilation passed on to us by our parents, who were perhaps much too young at that time and had been narrated incidences by their parents.

But what if there were no books written, no pictures ever taken of a Sardar Patel, Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Azad, Pandit Nehru and there was no storyteller in the family? Just what would our understanding be about a life-changing event of a country altogether?

Similarly, on a cricket field, what if there was no one who’d have ever captured Sir Don with the bat, what if no photograph of Victor Trumper was ever taken, and what if no one had ever televised the “Body-Line” series? Just how would the fan come to know about tales of mastery with the bat and the ruthlessness of the ball on the 22 yards?

To the current generation in the Caribbean whose day starts with appreciation of an Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer or DJ Bravo and ends with his or her elder offspring reminiscing the bygone era featuring the Prince of Trinidad as also of flair- Brian Lara, the dedicated soldier Shiv Chanderpaul and the mighty Sir Curtly Ambrose, just what would’ve been if none of these greats were ever captured on the lens?

The game is meaningless in the absence of the bat or ball. But likewise, it is truly nothing without that tool that witnesses and captures action in flesh and blood, one without which tales of Cricket may never have crossed several seas.

The camera, and to be more specific, the tireless lensman.

And so when Barbados’ son, West Indies’ pride, and cricket’s delight Gordon Brooks died recently, his passing reminded us about the power of the true instrument of liberation- the camera!

Gordon Brooks was no ordinary life; he was no less than a talent contesting for the West Indies with passion and resolve, albeit operating with a slightly different mode with which to gather success- his camera.

One that evidenced generations change (the rise of Hooper and Richardson post the Sir Viv era), cricketers evolving into being superstars (young Lara becoming a record breaker), the baton of leadership passing from a hand to another (Gayle captaining the side post Brian Lara), and with it, captured truly illustrious heights scaled by his Caribbean’s heroes.

Gordon Brooks

And of the many breathtaking moments that Gordon Brooks recorded with quintessential finesse and absolute dedication to his craft was the photo of a 34-year-old record-breaker bowing down to kiss the pitch at St. John’s, Antigua, back in 2004.

What we remember today about Brian Lara’s 400 not out is the sheer instinct of domination with which one of the game’s greatest made headlines when most are already past their best.

But one of the most distinct images that we instantly reminisce whenever someone quizzes us of Lara’s 400* is that very captivating visual that was brought to life by the man who watched live proceedings, then 64 but firmly involved in the dizzying scenes at Antigua.

Though when it comes to Gordon Brooks, what travels adjacently magnanimous portraits are the long, tiresome miles he traversed accompanying the West Indies on countless international tours.

He was a storyteller through pictures that silently spoke a lot. He was more than a photographer; a chronicler of all things West Indies cricket.

And with longevity at the heart of what he did, capturing soul-stirring stills for over four decades, he was awarded with several salutations, one of which was the Silver Crown of Merit, for his contributions to photography.

A life born in Barbados but one that would capture the imagination of the entire Caribbean would also publish an unmissable account of telling images of the West Indies in a book aptly titled Caught In Action, an important contribution of Gordon Brooks to photojournalism featuring the team in action from 1980 to 2000.

As a result of spending copious amounts of time on the field, Gordon Brooks’ eyes witnessed also the painful change of guard, the once-mighty West Indies descending into a catacomb-like dark corner where form and class both detested them, to speak specifically of the 2000s, the era where the decline was all too evident.

But long before the decadence struck, Gordon Brooks had also evidenced serene heights; by the 1970s, he’d already become an established photojournalist having become a noted press and studio photographer, one who’d develop into a legend whose pictures would speak a thousand words for a team that decorated the game with remarkable feats.

For someone so intrepidly devoted to his machine, the camera, what must be duly noted and celebrated in equal measure is the fact that Gordon Brooks even contributed to journalism, becoming the founder of the Nation Newspaper in Barbados, his homeland.

Though it must be said that it is one thing to love cricket, but something quite other to be loved back by the game itself. A facet truly evident as the obituaries dripping in love for a very passionate West Indian just haven’t stopped ever since the great Gordon Brooks breathed his last, aged 81.


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