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A plea for Winston

IN 1983, a certain Winston Davis made his mark at the World Cup when he took seven Australian wickets for 51, a performance which remained the best bowling in one-day cricket for quite some time.

Today, the same Davis is a tetraplegic. No fault of his own -- he is the victim of a freak accident in St Vincent where he was born. While helping to clear some land for construction of a church, a branch felled him. He was paralysed with no movement in his arms or legs.

Davis played 15 Tests for the West Indies in their heyday in the 1980s. He took 45 wickets and is also remembered for the partnership he shared with Michael Holding in the first Test against England in 1984; he made 77 and Holding 87 to lift the West Indies to 606. He also did service for Glamorgan and Northamptonshire.

In August, the British newspaper, The Guardian, carried a piece about Davis; Matthew Engel did the story and attached an appeal at the end. Guardian readers have more than risen to the occasion and (with some help from the Wisden Cricket Monthly) have sent in 33,905.98 pounds sterling.

Davis has now been able to buy a special wheelchair-friendly vehicle and visit his home in Worcestershire. Until then he was unable to leave the hospital in Shropshire because there was no way for someone with such severe injuries to travel. Both the money and letters which numerous people have written to him have moved him and his family. His stay at home was a three-day experiment. The doctors plan to send him home for another short stay before he goes back for good.

The future is a worrying thing for the wife and six-year-old daughter of a man whose body will accept no instructions from his brain. He will have to be cared for right through life.

Engel wrote in the Guardian recently that plans were advancing for a benefit match to be played during a lull in the World Cup next summer. Clive Lloyd, Sunil Gavaskar and Michael Holding have already agreed to turn out and play, commitments permitting.

This is a time for cricket fans to rise to the occasion. No matter which team we support, no matter where we hail from. This is a time for united action. Any contributions could be made payable to Winston Davis and sent to The Guardian.