The great George Headley, who moved to Jamaica from Panama as a pre-teen, followed up his 179 in Barbados by becoming the first West Indian to score two hundreds in the same Test (114 &112) at Bourda and set the standards of West Indian batsmanship. His outstanding contribution with the bat will always be mentioned whenever the great West Indies batsmen are discussed 100 years from now.
Headley, who was born on May 30th 1909 to a Jamaican mother and Bajan father, finished a fine series with a splendid 223 in the final test on home soil. He was called the ‘Black Bradman’ and ‘Atlas’ because he carried the West Indies batting on his shoulders in the early days.
Although his career was put on hold for nine years between 1939 and 1948 due to the Second World War, he scored 10 centuries from 22 tests at an average of 60.83 and is among the greatest batsmen produced by the West Indies.
It must be remembered that Headley, in those days, batted on uncovered pitches, had very little protective gear, and had to expend immense energy when traveling by boat for long periods in sub-standard conditions. He also had very little batting support in a team that almost totally depended on his contribution in the 1930s.
He captained the West Indies in one test in 1948 to become the first black man to lead the side after becoming the youngest West Indian to score a test century.
He is still the oldest West Indian to play test cricket; completing his illustrious career when he was 44 years, 226 days. He died on November 30th 1983 at age 74. His son (Ron Headley) played two tests for the West Indies, while his grandson (Dean Headley) represented England 15 times in tests.
In 1931 Trinidadian George Grant led the West Indies on their first tour to Australia and despite two tons from Headley, lost the five test series 4-1.
Australia won the fourth test at Melbourne by an inning and 122 runs in two days. No test match in the history of the game has been shorter than two days and eight teams (Australia, England, West Indies, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand) hold the embarrassing record (as of March, 2020) of defeat in two days.
Sixty-nine years later, England beat the West Indies at Leeds by an innings and 39 runs as West Indies suffered only their second test loss in two days.
After losing 2-0 in the 1933 series in England, the West Indies won their first test series in 1935 at home when, under the leadership of Grant, they beat England 2-1 in the four test series with Headley making 270 not out in the final test.
After the 1939 series to England, war broke out and the West Indies did not play again until 1948 when Headley, now past his prime, became the first black man to captain the West Indies; leading the side in the first test against England in Barbados. Gerry Gomez took over from Headley in the second test in Trinidad after Headley was injured in the first match.
In the first test of the 1939 three-test series, Headley had become the first West Indian to score two centuries in a Lord’s test with 106 & 107. However, this achievement was in a losing cause as Len Hutton and Denis Compton scored hundreds to give England the match and a 1-nil win in the series. Sir Everton Weeks scored 137 in the final test which ended in a draw.
In the Third test of the 1948 home series against England (the first test series in the Caribbean in nine years) Goddard took over from Gomez as captain to become the first long term West Indies skipper, leading the team in 22 matches including the memorable 1950 series in England.
In the 1948 inaugural series against India, one year after India gained independence, 28-year-old Robert Christiani (107) became the first batsman from British Guiana (now Guyana) to score a test century. He batted at number eight in the order and shared in the record of most centuries (4) in the same West Indies innings in a high scoring first test in Delhi in November 1948. This record was later equaled in 1983 against India and 2005 against South Africa; both times at the ARG ground.
THE THREE Ws IS FORMED
After hitting a ton against England, Everton Weeks who was later knighted, hammered four consecutive centuries and still holds test cricket oldest batting record of most consecutive hundreds (5). He fell 10 runs short of a sixth successive century when he was run out. He however disclosed years later that he felt he was hard done by the umpire (who did not have the technology available today) since he was sure that he had made good his ground. Weeks’ seven consecutive scores of over 50 in Test cricket is still a record today although Andy Flower and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have equaled the feat.
The three Ws, Weeks, Worrell and Walcott played together for the first time in a test match in the second test of the 1948 series in India.
In those days teams traveled by boat from one continent to another and it was disclosed that the hotel conditions were atrocious when compared to the five-star accommodation which is now common place for touring international teams.
“In the 1948 tour to India we traveled on trains which had no food bars and players were constantly falling ill with dehydration. This was my first tour and I thought this was how it was supposed to be. We were proud to be test cricketers representing West Indies and we did our job without complains. Many of us were not sure if we would be still employed when we returned from overseas tours and the money we were paid was nothing compared to what the present players make,” Weeks revealed in 2006 at a Reds Perriera Sports Foundation organized ‘Night of Nostalgia’ in Guyana.
Alan Rae and Jeffery Stollmeyer recorded centuries in a 239-run opening stand in the fourth test of that 1948 series, while Guyanese fast bowler John Trim bagged seven wickets in the match which West Indies won by an innings and 139 runs to take the 5-test series 1-nil.
Test record of Weeks, Worrell & Walcott
Weeks-48 tests, 81 innings, 4455 runs, h/score 207, Ave. 58.61, 100s-15, 50s-19
Walcott-44 tests, 74 innings, 3798 runs, runs, H/Score 220, Ave.56.68, 100s-15, 50s-14
Worrell-51 tests, 87 innings 3860 runs, H/Score 261, Ave.49.48, 100s-9, 50s-22
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