89 not out
SIR?EVERTON?WEEKES?is just 11 short of another hundred.
That’s because one of the best and most attractive batsmen the West Indies has ever produced, is celebrating his 89th birthday today.
Did you know that Sir Everton was just 22 when he made his debut for the West Indies against England in January 1948. He must have had the shortest walk by a debutant to the ground as he had to make a few steps from his home Pickwick Gap to Kensington Oval.
He was one of seven West Indians on debut. The others were compatriots Sir Clyde Walcott and John Goddard, Guyanese Robert Christiani and Berkely Gaskin and Trinidadians Prior Jones and Wlifred Ferguson.
E. A. V. “Foffie” Williams, joined the West Indies side at the last minute when Sir Frank Worrell dropped out owing to food poisoning.
What was far more significant about this match was that for the first time, a black man, the great George Headley, was captaining a West Indies side.
The match was also memorable for England’s Joe Hardstaff being dismissed at 98 and Christiani for 99.
Sir Everton had little early coaching but his potential was realised at St Leonard’s Boys’ School where he was a regular member of the team. He was reportedly spotted by former West Indies captain Teddy Hoad while serving with the Barbados Battalion of the Caribbean regiment.
Did you know that the West Indies never lost a match in which Sir Everton made a hundred. Of those 15 tons, five were scored in victories and ten in draws.
His highest score after three Tests was 36 and he was dropped for the final Test of the series at Sabina Park in Jamaica to make way for George Headley, although he was restored when Headley had to drop out. The Kingston crowd wanted hometown boy John Holt instead of Weekes, and he was booed throughout the England innings.
Sir Everton responded with 141, and on the 1948 tour of India which followed he scored 779 runs at 111.28 and set a world record of five successive hundreds, the highest being 194 at Bombay. It would have been six were it not for a controversial run-out decision at Madras.
Most people know that Sir Everton finished with a batting average hovering near 60, but few know that he is the joint fastest to 1 000 runs ahead of even the great Sir Don Bradman. He along with the revered English batsman of the 1920s and 30s, Herbert Sutcliffe, required just 12 innings.
The stats on Sir Everton and Sutcliffe are fairly similar. Sir Everton had 15 hundreds, Sutcliffe had 16; Sir Everton averaged 58, Sutcliffe 63; and only 100 runs separated them, the Barbadian had an aggregate of 4 455 while Sutcliffe’s was 4 555.
Sir Everton made the most of the lightweight attacks of India and New Zealand. He scored seven tons against India and three against the Kiwis. When he scored those four hundreds in 1948, India had not tasted a Test victory, their first win not coming till 1952.
His splendid record speaks for itself, but it has to be said that he has a modest record in both Australia and England, the yardsticks for batting excellence. He has never made a hundred Down Under and only has one in England.
Sir Everton struggled with the pace of Ray LIndwall and Keith Miller on the 1951-52 series in Australia against Lindsay Hassett’s team, averaging just 24. In fact, the late Sir Frank Worrell, is the only one of the batting triumvirate known as the Three Ws, with a Test hundred in Australia, a memorable 108 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
His only hundred in England, is 129 at Trent Bridge on the historic 1950 tour. His tour of England in 1957 was blighted by poor health, and aside from a gutsy 90 on a lively Lord’s wicket, when he was struck a painful blow on the hand, he disappointed.
Sir Everton was a master batsman, who was a stylist. For him batting was an art and he seldom struck the ball in the air, hitting just one six in his career. He had the satisfaction of capturing a Test wicket, removing the outstanding Australian opener Arthur Morris in the 1955 Sabina Park Test.