Background - The 1960/61 West Indies tour of Australia
The West Indies tour of Australia in 1960/61 is widely regarded as one of the game's greatest series, described by both the great Richie Benaud and Sir Garfield Sobers as the best series they ever played in.
The series was punctuated by a succession of incredible and heroic performances from players on both sides. From the historic Tied Test in the first match in Brisbane right through until to the final and deciding Test in Melbourne, Australian crowds were treated to a brand of cricket that was both exciting and extraordinary.
Along the way, the series saw:
- a drama packed game in Adelaide as Australia clung on to salvage a dramatic draw on the final day to keep the series alive;
- a world record crowd for a single day's play when 90,800 packed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground;
- the creation of the Frank Worrell Trophy in honour of the West Indies Captain;
- a civic reception and street parade in Melbourne after the series was over that saw 90,000 people line the streets and cheer the teams.
This was a fantastic boost to the game. The success of the tour was in no small measure due to the close matches, but it really started with the two captains - Benaud and Frank Worrell.
Before the Tests started they both promised to play bright, attacking cricket with the aim of forcing a result at all times.
From an Australian viewpoint Benaud was strongly supported in this attitude by the Chairman of Selectors Sir Donald Bradman. In fact, at tea on the last day of the tied Test Australia's hopes rested with Benaud and Alan Davidson who had come together with the score at 6/92, and only the tailenders to follow. It was not a strong position, with 124 to get in 120 minutes, but during the interval Sir Donald asked Benaud: "What are you going for Richie, a win or a draw?" "We're going for a win, of course," replied the captain. "I am very pleased to hear it." said Sir Donald.
While the West Indies lost the series, they won the hearts of the Australian cricket fans and, true to their word, the two captains played bright and attacking cricket leaving a legacy for Australian cricket that continues through to today