It’s 90 not out
SIR EVERTON WEEKES is closing in on another hundred.
The all-time West Indian great, the only man to reel off hundreds in five successive innings, will celebrate his 90th birthday tomorrow.
Sir Everton was part of the famous three Ws that also comprised the late Sir Frank Worrell and the late Sir Clyde Walcott, who were at their dominant best in the 1950s.
Sir Clyde was a punishing back-foot player, Sir Frank was stylish and silky-smooth, while Sir Everton possessed exceptional quickness of eye and foot – so that he always had more than average time to make his strokes.
Correct and sound in defence, he was extremely punishing in attack, and showed special strength in strokes off the back foot. Despite his short stature, strong forearms and wrists enabled Sir Everton to cut, pull and drive tremendously hard, and seldom did he lift the ball.
The three Ws did score their runs in an era when scoring them was generally more difficult, but even so, they did enjoy their time against the relatively weak bowling teams of the time.
Sir Everton and Sir Frank both averaged less than 40 against Australia, but feasted on the Indian attack. Sir Everton averaged 106.78 in ten Tests, and scored more runs off India than any other team, while Sir Frank averaged almost 61 against India, and 116.50 in two Tests against New Zealand.
Sir Clyde’s record was more consistent, with an average of 57 against Australia – including centuries in each innings in two Tests in 1955 – and more than 44 against all sides.
The home and away stats, though, were especially skewed for Sir Clyde and Sir Everton. Sir Clyde averaged almost 30 more at home than he did away (69.83 to 40.46), while for Weekes the difference was almost 20 (69.14 at home, 49.63 away).
For Sir Frank, the numbers were a little more balanced – 55.41 at home, and 44.90 away.
There were 29 Tests that Sir Everton, Sir Frank and Sir Clyde played together, and in those matches Sir Frank was the only one to average more than 50 (even though in terms of overall career stats he was the only one among the three to average less than 50).
West Indies, though, didn’t have a very successful time in those games, winning seven Tests and losing 12. Against Australia, they lost six out of seven matches, which perhaps isn’t so surprising given that both Sir Everton and Sir Frank averaged less than 40 against them.
Sir Everton was one of seven West Indians who made their debut in the opening Test of the 1948 series against England at Kensington Oval, a stone throw away from Pickwick Gap where he grew up.
“Words cannot adequately express what I felt at the time,” said Sir Everton, “especially having been brought up at Kensington Oval, where I helped to roll the pitch and field as substitute in some matches. It was an honour to merit West Indies selection.”
He had scores of 35 and 25 in Barbados, followed by scores of 36 and 20 in Trinidad and 36 in Guyana.
It was the Sabina Test, his fourth match, which effectively propelled Sir Everton’s career when he made 141 in the first innings.
This was followed by scores of 128, 194, 162, 101, 90, 56 and 48 on the tour of India later that year.
“Obviously that was the highlight of my career,” he said. “It was five centuries in five innings and the world record.”
In the five Tests in India he scored 779 runs at an average of 111.28.
Sir Everton was also in regal form on the 1956 tour of New Zealand. The great man had centuries against Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington, and one in each of the three Tests – two of which West Indies won by an innings, and one by ten wickets.
While there is question about Sir Everton’s class and place among the greats, it has to be said that he averaged just 24 on his only tour of Australia and has only one Test ton after two tours of England (1950 and 1957).
In contrast, he has seven hundreds against India and three against New Zealand. When Sir Everton mauled India in a high-scoring series in 1948, India were lightweights and had not even won a Test match, their first victory not coming till 1952.
New Zealand were similarly winless in 1956 when he cracked centuries in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. When Denis Atkinson’s side was bowled out for 77 chasing 268 for victory in the fourth and final Test at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand were celebrating their first win in 26 years of Test cricket.
Sir Everton has a stunning Test average of 58.61, better than Sir Garry Sobers (57.78), Sir Jack Hobbs (56.94), Sir Clyde Walcott (56.68), Sir Len Hutton (56.67), Jacques Kallis (55.37), Sachin Tendulkar (53.78), Brian Lara (52.88), Rahul Dravid (52.31), Allan Border (50.56) and Sir Viv Richards (50.23).