West Indies cricket comes of age, England beaten in their own backyard
By Sean Devers
On the historic 1950 English tour which the Windies won 3-1, Jeffery Stollmeyer and John Goddard insisted that Ramadhin and Valentine, with virtually no first-class experience, be selected.
The spin twins mesmerized the English batsmen while Alan Rae and Stollmeyer, rated only behind Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (who shared 16 century partnerships between them) as outstanding West Indian opening pairs, give their team solid starts for the three W’s (Weeks, Worrell and Walcott) to build on as the West Indies enjoyed their finest hour, winning their first match in England…at Lords.
Rae, who later became a president of the WICBC, and who had scored two tons in the previous series in India, scored 109, while Sir Frank Worrell hit 138 as West Indies made 503.
Valentine and Goddard had four wickets each as England, despite an undefeated double century from Hutton, fell for 344.
Ramadhin (3-38) and Valentine (6-39) opened the bowling to rout the home team for 103 in their second innings as West Indies won by an innings and 56 runs.
West Indies played New Zealand for the first time in the 1952 two test series in New Zealand and won 1-nill under Goddard after they had lost 4-1 to Australia in 1951/52.
25 YEARS OF WEST INDIES CRICKET
West Indies, under Stollmeyer, celebrated their first 25 years in test cricket with a 1-0 win over India in the five-test series at home before drawing 2-all in the 5-test series against England in 1954 in the Caribbean.
The 1953 series was the first time India had played in the Caribbean and Polly Umrigar (130) scored the first century by an Indian in the West Indies in the first test in Trinidad. Weeks (207) and Bruce Pairaudeau (115) posted centuries in the West Indies reply as the game ended in a draw.
West Indies won the second test in Barbados with Ramadhin and Valentine picking up six wickets each in the game.
Bajan Dennis Atkinson took over the captaincy and lost the 1955 home series to Australia 3-nil although Sir Clyde Walcott scored five centuries in the series, including tons in both innings of the second and fifth tests.
West Indies beat New Zealand 3-1 in their 4-test series in New Zealand in 1956 with Weeks blasting three centuries in the series.
England, with the home advantage, beat West Indies 3-1 in the 5-test series in 1957 when Kanhai made his debut as a Wicketkeeper.
In 1958 Pakistan (who had separated from India to form their own Islamic nation) played the West Indies for the first time and Garry Alexander led the West Indies to a 3-1 victory in the five-test series.
The third test in Jamaica saw three records being set. Garfield Sobers, later knighted ‘Sir’ scored a record 365 (his 1st test century) and got support from Conrad Hunt (260) as the West Indies declared at 790-3. The Bajan pair added 447 for the second wicket after Rohan Kanhai was dismissed for 25 at 87-1.
While Sobers’ record was broken 36 years later by Brian Lara, the 790-3 still remains West Indies’ highest total and the second wicket partnership is still a West Indies record.
In 1958/59 West Indies won the 5-test series in India 3-nil with Kanhai hitting 256 in the third test at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta before being run out for 99 in the next match. His third-test score is still the highest by a West Indian in India. Three West Indians scored centuries in the same innings of the third and fifth tests with Joe Solomon registering his only test hundred in the final test with 100 not out.
Later in 1959, West Indies toured Pakistan and lost the 3-test series 2-1 with Kanhai making 217 in the last test which the West Indies won by an innings and 156 runs.
CALYPSO CRICKET CHANGES UNDER WORRELL
The 1960/61 series to Australia marked a new era in West Indies cricket as the players became true professionals.
Style, flair, aggression and showmanship have always been, and most likely will always be a part of West Indies cricket. However, Sir Frank Worrell, arguably the best of all West Indian skippers, made his players understand that they were role models and that success was important.
Until 1960, the West Indies captain was always a ‘white’ as social and racial discrimination was still alive in the West Indies although Slavery had been abolished for over a century. Status and skin color played an important role in the sociological and economical aspects of life in the British West Indies and although outstanding non-white players were accepted because of their talent. Outside of cricket they were still considered inferior citizens.
While Headley led the West Indies in a solitary test in 1948, Walcott became the first black captain for a full series and soon became the players’ skipper during his three-year reign as leader.
Lloyd, who later became the most successful leader of any test side, had this to say about Worrell.
“Worrell cultivated a new attitude to the problems of West Indian cricket. There was insularity, the call for arithmetical representation from each territory, there was prejudice and there was a lack of confidence that the general and particular methods of selection guaranteed that the best talent emerged.
“The social distinction between amateurs and professionals still held sway. But the onerous problem was how to provide dept and continuity to a system based on week-end cricket. I suppose these problems have not all been satisfactorily solved, but Frank Worrell took us a long way on the road of solution” Lloyd explained.
Cricket is not just a game to West Indians. It represents our hopes and aspirations, our joys and sorrows, our yesterdays and tomorrows. Deeds on the cricket field become our landmarks in history.
Worrell insisted that his team played as a unit and not for individual glory, something the West Indies had been guilty of since their first test match. Discipline, commitment and professionalism were key elements of Walcott’s’ leadership. He was above all respected by the players and won nine of his 15 test as captain to earn a sixty percent victory rate, the best among all West Indies skippers.
Worrell died in 1967 after suffering from Leukemia. He paved the way for leaders like Lloyd to build on as the West Indies became the most professional, exciting, complete and invincible side for almost two decades.
Worrell scored nine centuries from 51 tests and captured 69 wickets. He was also the first West Indies captain to win every match in a five-test series when India lost 5-nill in 1962.
“My aim was always to see West Indies molded from a rabble of brilliant island individualists into a real team-and I’ve done it” These were Worrell’s words after his final tour of England in 1963. He had changed the image of West Indies cricket forever.
Sobers, the best all-rounder the world has ever seen, was given the captaincy for the 1965 Australia series but just managed nine wins in 39 matches as skipper before making way for Rohan Kanhai to become the first Windies skipper of East Indian decent in 1973.
The 1960 5-test home series against England was won 1-nil by the visitors although Sobers scored three hundreds in the series including 226 in the first in Barbados when Worrell made an unbeaten 197.
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