Colin E. H. Croft
For such an auspicious occasion, 500th Test, West Indies would probably have preferred to have been playing against South Africa, England, Australia, even India or Pakistan.
Had WI not played many unscheduled or rescheduled Tests, they could have done that. But Bangladesh, rated No. 10 to West Indies No. 8, is it!
Only the third team to this 500 Test landmark – England (952); Australia (767) – says volumes to continuity of WI cricket since its first Test, v England, 23 June 1928, at Lords Cricket Ground, London, West Indies losing by an innings and fifty eight runs!
With assistance from statistician Craig Cozier, some astounding WI historical stats are presented here!
The first West Indies captain, v England, 1928, was Jamaican wicket-keeper Robert Carl Nunes.
Jamaican Frank Martin was also included, as were George Challenor, George Francis and Herman Griffith from Barbados; Maurice Fernandes and Snuffy Browne from Guyana (British Guiana); Wilton St. Hill, Clifford Roach, (Sir) Learie Constantine and Joe Small of Trinidad & Tobago.
Overall, WI has played 148 Tests v England; 111 v Australia; 90 v India; 46 v Pakistan; 45 v New Zealand; 25 v South Africa; 15 v Sri Lanka; 8 v Zimbabwe; and 12, including this 500th, v Bangladesh.
WI first Test win was over England, at Bourda Oval, Georgetown, Guyana; 1930; by 289 runs. WI won its 100th Test too, v Australia, 1965, at Sabina Park, Jamaica, by 179 runs.
I actually played in WI’s Test No. 200, a rain-affected draw v England, at Leeds, Yorkshire, 1980. Match analysis: 31 overs, 5 maidens, 100 runs, 4 wickets!
WI’s Test No. 300, v Sri Lanka, 1993, at Moratuwa, and Test No. 400, v Zimbabwe, at Harare, 2003, were also drawn. With a full five days available, No. 500 should produce a WI win v Bangladesh in 2014!
From 499 Tests, WI have won 81 of 227 played in the Caribbean; 80 of 272 played overseas; winning 161, losing 168, drawing 168, with one very famous tied Test, first ever, v Australia, 1960/61.
Denesh Ramdin, T&T and WI wicketkeeper, is WI’s 35th Test captain!
Only 299 cricketers have played Tests for West Indies. Guyanese Leon Johnson, who, when at the crease looks more like Brian Lara than anyone else, got his first cap, after Chris Gayle became unavailable and Kirk Edwards not on form, became No. 300! What a great honour!
T&T’s Clifford Roach, opener, made 122 v England, WI’s 1st Test century ever; Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados, 1930. He also had WI’s 1st double century, 209; Bourda Oval; in that same series.
WI’s first triple century, 365 not out, was by Barbadian (Sir) Gary Sobers v Pakistan, at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica, 1958, while most remember T&T’s Brian Lara’s 400 not out, at Antigua’s Recreation Ground, v England, 2004, thus reclaiming the crown for Test cricket’s highest single individual innings.
Lara is also, now, but not for much longer if Shiv Chanderpaul has anything to do with it, highest run scorer in WI Tests – 11,912 runs from 130 Tests. Chanderpaul has 11,499 runs from 157 Tests.
WI’s first five-wicket haul was by T&T’s fast bowler who played for Barbados, Herman Griffith, 6-103 v England, in that same first 1928 Test series, achieved at (now) Kennington Oval, London.
WI’s best single innings bowling was by T&T’s off-spinner Jack Noriega, 9-95 v India, 1971, at Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad & Tobago, while the best match analysis, by Jamaican speedster Michael Holding, 14-149, at Kennington Oval, London, 1976, v England, will take great efforts to be surpassed!
The highest wicket-taker for WI in Tests is another Jamaican, Courtney Walsh, with 519 wickets!
Personally, I had some proud Test land-marks and inputs too!
The first Test I listened to, via short-wave radio from Australia, aged seven, was WI’s # 88, v Australia, the 1st Tied Test, Brisbane 1960.
The first Test that I actually attended was WI’s # 102, v Australia; Bourda, Georgetown, 1965!
Being selected to play for WI was a dream come true. Aged 23, I was WI Test Cricketer No. 159, making my debut v Pakistan; 1976/7, Kensington Oval; WI’s Test No. 176, Test No. 797 overall.
(Sir) Andy Roberts, WI Test cricketer No. 149 and I, last pair, managed to draw that game that Pakistan should have won. I even played out the last maiden over, bowled by Javed Miandad!
WI’s Test No. 177, No. 799 overall, 1977, only my 2nd Test, I managed an unbelievable 18.5 overs 7 maidens 29 runs 8 wickets, which still stands at the best single innings returns from a WI fast bowler; a good day’s work!
I got 100th Test wickets in 21 Tests, WI’s Test No. 210, Test No. 896 overall, v England at QPO in 1981, eventually ending my Test career in WI’s Test No. 216, Test No. 919 overall; 125 wickets from 27 Tests; in 1982. For two of five years that I played for WI, I was also No. 1 bowler, period, in the world!
I played when WI dominated fully and we all contributed to the 500 Tests! Enjoy!
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