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Tour and tournament reports

The West Indian team in England 1939

Begun in miserable weather and ended prematurely by the anticipation of war, the tour of the West Indies, despite these handicaps, brought considerable distinction to the team admirably captained by R

15-Apr-1940
Begun in miserable weather and ended prematurely by the anticipation of war, the tour of the West Indies, despite these handicaps, brought considerable distinction to the team admirably captained by R. S. Grant. Defeat in the first important match at Worcester and other reverses from Surrey and Glamorgan during May might have discouraged a less happy set of players, but the cheerful control of a leader, well accustomed to the vagaries of the English climate, kept all the team ready for more favourable surroundings. Considering that success was denied them until their sixth engagement the West Indies could feel well satisfied with their final record of eight victories, six defeats and eleven drawn games in fixtures extending over three days.
They could look back with special pleasure to their second appearance at Lord's. Middlesex could not get together their best eleven and were beaten by an innings and 228 runs. Such a victory at headquarters suggested the possibility of England being extended, and brought to mind the fact that in the winter of 1934 England, captained by R. E. S. Wyatt, lost two and won only one of the four Test matches when touring West Indies.
As it happened England under W. R. Hammond won at Lord's by eight wickets towards the end of June and time did not suffice for a definite finish either at Old Trafford or Kennington Oval. On each occasion the touring team showed to marked advantage, holding their own in the second encounter and making such a grand finish on the Surrey ground that it was not unfitting that the tour had that splendid display for it's curtain. Superb fielding, clever slow bowling by Clarke and astonishing batting by Constantine left lasting impressions on the minds of all the spectators who saw the England eleven spread over the field almost grotesquely in the effort to keep down the runs.
If West Indies could not retain the Test honours wrested from England four years before, one individual record was established. In 1930 at Georgetown, Headley scored 114 and 112 against the England team captained by the Hon. F. S. G. Calthorpe. He repeated this performance with 106 and 107 at Lord's, and additional credit belongs to him as a member of the losing side, when achieving this unique feat. Headley alone has scored two separate centuries in a Test at Lord's and no-one else has twice met with such success in matches against England. To Sutcliffe belongs greater fame in this matter of two Test centuries for he made 176 and127 at Melbourne in 1925 and 104 and 109 not out against South Africa at the Oval in 1929. He alone had accomplished the double feat twice; now Headley shares the distinction with the Yorkshireman.
With a highest score of 234 not out made at Trent Bridge, besides 227 against Middlesex, Headley built up an aggregate of 1,745 runs, and his average, 72.70, was the best of the season. He beat Hammond, foremost of England batsmen, by over nine runs an innings but was far behind Hutton in the Tests. Sealy, not unlike Headley in appearance at the wicket, and somewhat similar in his forcing tactics, showed less ability to score when playing back but he gave some attractive displays. J. B. Stollmeyer, in his nineteenth year, fulfilled the ambition of every batsman by making a century in his first innings at Lord's and he should have a great future. His brother Victor, although troubled by illness, played several good innings and Weekes, a left hand bat always looking for runs, made the highest test score for the side - 137 at the Oval where he got his other century, 146, off the Surrey bowlers. This partiality for a particular ground was more marked in the case of Headley, who, besides his phenomenal performance in the Test, hit up his second best score at Lord's. Bayley gave special promise with 104 at Oxford but unfortunately damaged a knee and spent most of the time resting. Barrow, the principal wicket-keeper, failed to bat in the form shown when here six years before, and after the Lord's match he gave way to Sealy in the other Tests.
R. S. Grant solved the difficulty of finding capable opening batsmen by putting himself in first and his highest score, 95, gave the side a brilliant start against Lancashire. His stylish forcing methods made him good to watch and later in the season he shared with Constantine the honours as an all-round player. Grant, bowling round the wicket, turned the ball from the off when the turf gave any help and his fielding at short leg was beyond praise. Comparison with Constantine may seem flattery but Grant excelled in catching, no hit being too hot for his hands even when only a few yards from the bat; and his reach was remarkable.
Constantine, approaching the age of 37, repeated all the amazing energy that made him one of the most dazzling cover points when first he came to England in 1923 and on his next two visits. No matter where placed he performed wonders in getting to the ball. In bowling Constantine stood out by himself just as Headley did in batting. By relying on varied spin and mixed pace, from quite slow to a very fast ball sparsely used, Constantine altered his attack completely from the fast medium swingers which he employed formerly. Possibly league cricket gave him these ideas of conserving his strength and he was the most unflagging member of this very alert side. His batting reached a climax of audacious adventure in the Oval Test but he often electrified onlookers with his almost impudent zest for runs. Unlike Constantine, Martindale failed to profit by his experiences in English Saturday afternoon games. He did not approach his previous success on tour when, strangely enough, he took 103 wickets, the number claimed now by Constantine at smaller cost. Martindale fell off in pace and accuracy. Hylton, a deadly bowler in conjunction with Martindale and Constantine, when Wyatt's team were beaten, could not find his form. Johnson, a very tall left hander, looked better than a meagre reward proved him to be. As the season progressed Clarke, a slow leg break bowler with a high delivery and a googly that moved quickly from the turf, became the stock bowler and he often quietened the most dangerous opponents. Cameron, well acquainted with the game in England from experience similar to his captain's as a Cambridge blue after being at school in Somerset, was not reliable with either bat or ball. He scored one of the three centuries hit for the side at Oxford, but did little else, and, except at Lord's, his bowling seldom caused much trouble. A damaged hand compelled him to retire from the match against his old county at Taunton, where he acted as captain, and he did not play again. So well patronised were the Test matches that they yielded the West Indies£4,684 as their share of the proceeds. Generally our visitors attracted good crowds. Their universal popularity was enhanced by the courtesy of their captain and the Manager Mr. J. M. Kidney, who renewed many friendships made when he was in charge of the 1933 team.