George Nathaniel Francis
December 11, 1897, Trents, St James, Barbados
January 12, 1942, Black Rock, St Michael, Barbados, (aged 44y 32d)
Also Known As
birth registered as John Nathaniel Francis
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast
George Francis caused a sensation in West Indies' tour of England in 1923 in the final match of the first-class season at Scarborough when he ripped through the best of England batting to reduce a strong Leveson-Gower's XI to 19 for 6 after they were set 28 to win. It wasn't quite enough to force an improbable win but it brought acknowledgement that West Indies were no push overs. Francis was capable of bowling at genuine pace, and possessed a vicious yorker, yet his selection for the 1923 trip only came at the insistence of West Indies' captain, Harold Austin.
Five years after his headline-grabbing Scarborough exploits, Francis, though by now a little past his best, took the new ball for West Indies in their inaugural Test at Lord's. In company with Learie Constantine and Hermann Griffith, West Indies had three bowlers of express pace, and created the early prototype for the side of the 1970s and '80s - but without matching their later success.
His employers gave him leave for one Test in 1929-30 when England visited the Caribbean, and Francis responded by taking six wickets at Georgetown in West Indies' first Test victory. Touring Australia the next season, he took 11 wickets at 31.81 and at Sydney he bowled tightly to force another win after Jackie Grant had set the Australians 250. His last Test was at Lord's in 1933, where he failed to take a wicket. But by then he was engaged by Radcliffe in the Bolton League, where he was well-liked and his bowling commanded a considerable reputation.
It was cricket's loss that Test status was given to West Indies too late to the world to fully enjoy the talents of George Francis. He died in January 1942.
Batting & Fielding