Wilton H St Hill
July 06, 1893, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
Wilton St Hill was one of the first high-class black batsmen to emerge from the Caribbean. Tall and athletic, he was strong off his legs, and he made his debut for Trinidad in 1912-13 aged 19. By the time West Indies begun to be considered for Test status he was already well past 30, and when in 1925-26 he hammered 105 off the touring MCC, Lord Harris commented that he thought St Hill to be the finest batsman in the West Indies. Much was expected when he toured England with West Indies in 1928 - their first official tour - but he was a huge disappointment, making 54 runs in four innings, and only 262 at 10.91 in the entire summer. In 1929-30 he again impressed against MCC with another hundred, but failed in the resulting Test at his home ground. It was his last first-class innings.
Wilton St Hill is believed to have died around 1957, when he would have been 64, but there is no firm evidence of his death - his later years remain mysterious. However, his cricket was immortalised in C. L. R. James's masterwork, Beyond A Boundary, in which he is the subject of a whole chapter. St Hill played in only three Test matches and was a great disappointment when he played in England in 1928. But he was a hero in Trinidad, where both his insouciance and his strokemaking were regarded with awe: he would habitually walk out to bat smoking a cigarette and would throw it away only after the bowler set his field. James wrote that he saw the ball very early and played it very late, even against bowlers as fast as George John:
"He never appeared to be flurried, never caught in two minds ... I do not remember any more frightening sight at cricket than John running, jumping and letting loose at his terrific pace, and St Hill playing back as if he had known he would have to do so long before the ball was bowled and was somewhat bored by the whole business." Learie Constantine, after watching one of St Hill's early innings, said he had perfect timing.
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