Clyde Walcott's funeral September 4, 2006

Former cricketers pay respects to Walcott

Gibbs: 'Sir Clyde and I go a long way back. He was the best man at my wedding. He completely destroyed the myth that great cricketers can't be great administrators' © Getty Images

Garfield Sobers, Everton Weekes and Brian Lara led a list of outstanding past and present Test players who paid their final respects to Clyde Walcott on Saturday. Walcott was one of the most famous and revered West Indian cricketers, and several of those he played with, managed, and gave advice to, attended the funeral service at St Mary's Church.

Sir Clifford Husbands, the governor general, and Owen Arthur, the prime minister, topped the dignitaries who also included cabinet ministers Anthony Wood and Jerome Walcott. The congregation also included knights, Sir Richard Cheltenham, Sir Douglas Lynch, Sir Carlyle Burton, and prominent businessmen Geoffrey Cave, David Bynoe, and David Deane.

Predictably, though, cricketers, some of them carrying bats, and administrators took centre-stage and formed their own team. These included Desmond Haynes, Robin Bynoe, Cammie Smith, Wes Hall, Joel Garner, Wayne Daniel, Richard Prof Edwards, Seymour Nurse, Stephen Camacho, Peter Lashley, Rawle Brancker, Lance Gibbs and David Holford were all present. Captain Peter Short and Owen Estwick were on hand to ensure that the administration was in order.

Walcott managed Barbados youth teams in the 1970s and the two high-scoring schoolboys of that period, Winslow Ashby and Ricky Craig, were in attendance along with Emmerson Trotman, who is wrapping up a three-week holiday here.

Gibbs, the first spin bowler to take 300 Test wickets, said no praise could be too high for Walcott. "Sir Clyde and I go a long way back. He was the best man at my wedding. He completely destroyed the myth that great cricketers can't be great administrators," said Gibbs. "Jeff Stollmeyer, Allan Rae and Wes Hall have also proven that. I personally think that most of our top cricketers should be associated with the board, so that we would be able in inculcate some of the habits of the great players."

Gibbs noted that outside of the former Test players, the attendance was disappointing. "If something of this nature had happened in India, England, or Australia, if one of their top men had passed away, all of the young players would have been there. West Indians are not very supportive. I thought I would have seen more of the young cricketers because I am sure that Sir Clyde at Spartan must have passed on knowledge to some of the fellas. It was mostly former West Indies players in attendance."

"For example, autograph seekers are always around in England, Australia, and on the subcontinent. They stay outside of your room for days just to get an autograph. You don't see that happening in the Caribbean. People tend to forget you in the Caribbean when you have finished playing."

Walcott, who passed away last week at the age of 80, played 44 Tests and scored 15 centuries, a record five in a single series against Australia in the 1955 home series.