Sir Everton Weekes: My First Test (18 December 1998)

18 December 1998

Sir Everton Weekes: My First Test

By Philip Spooner

A True No. 3 From The Start

January 21, 1948, was one of the great days in West Indies cricket history.

On a warm day at Kensington Oval one of the finest batsmen the world has ever seen ventured into unknown territory. The journey started slowly and watchfully, but blossomed into greatness.

It was the day when a small, but determined Everton deCourcey Weekes started his illustrious 48-match Test career which produced 4 455 runs in 81 innings at an average of 58.61, including 15 centuries and 19 half-centuries.

But it did not start in a blaze of glory. According to Sir Everton, his selection was a "natural progression", after good performances for Barbados in the Inter-Colony Competition.

He had played in the Barbados Cricket League from the age of 12. At 17 he joined the Army and kept playing until he was demobilised in 1945 and moved on to Empire Cricket Club and into the Barbados team.

"Words cannot adequately express what I felt at the time," said the 73-year-old maestro "especially having been brought up at Kensington Oval, where I helped to roll the pitch and field as substitute in some matches. It was an honour to merit West Indies selection."

Sir Everton, who matured into a classy stroke-maker with enviable technique and style, was then a fresh-faced 22-year-old. He made 35 and 25 batting at No. 3.

"I did not exactly set the world on fire, but I got a look-in and saw what it was like," he recalled.

That drawn match was 50 years ago. Sir Everton, who is still active at all levels of cricket, remembered the game as if it were played yesterday.

The West Indies, under George Headley, the first great West Indies batsman, and including pioneers Jeffrey Stollmeyer, John Goddard, Gerry Gomez and E.A.V "Foffie" Williams, made 296 first up, and 351 for nine declared in the second innings.

Missing was Frank Worrell who was down with a bout of food-poisoning.

England, minus Len Hutton, Denis Compton and Alec Bedser, made 253 in the first innings and, set 395 to win, were 86 for four in the second innings.

"It was an impaired pitch that was not good for batting but we did pretty well.

"I don't remember much about my batting - probably because I didn't get much," Sir Everton said with a laugh.

He immediately recalled Robert Christiani's 99 and the absence of some of England's best players.

"It was the first Test after the war and some of the big names like (Bill) Edrich, Bedser and Compton were not in the side.

"The reason given by some 'experts' was that they took us lightly and felt we were 'calypso cricketers' who just had fun."

The West Indies proved them wrong, winning the four-match rubber 2-0, with victories at Bourda and Sabina Park.

It was the Sabina Test which effectively propelled Sir Everton's career when he made 141 in the first innings.

This was followed by scores of 128, 194, 162, 101, 90, 56 and 48 on the tour of India later that year.

"Obviously that was the highlight of my career," he said. "It was five centuries in five innings and the world record and I'm proud that it still stands nearly 50 years later."

Sir Everton remembered being "given out run out for 90" as he went in search of the sixth ton but does not seem too bothered by the incident.

He rates the 1950 victory over England at Lord's and the series victory as another "moment of immense pride".

"We showed them (England) and everyone that we could play. We had become a force to be reckoned with."

Source :: The Barbados Nation (http://www.nationnews.com/)

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