The Three W’s of West Indies Cricket

In the early 20th century, the English and the Australian teams had highly gifted and talented players like Sir WG Grace, Len Hutton, Sir. Jack Hobbs, Don Bradman, Bert Oldfield, etc. Other cricketing nations didn’t have so many talented players.

But then, in the mid 20th century i.e. in January 1948, there came two of the highly talented cricketers debuting for West Indies: Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott. The third of the three W’s, Frank Worrell debuted for West Indies a month later in February 1948. All three of them debuted against England in a 4 match home Test series.

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The Three W’s of West Indies cricket (L-R): Sir. Frank Worrell, Sir. Everton Weekes and Sir. Clyde Walcott

The term “Three W’s”:

The term “Three W’s” was coined by an English journalist during West Indies’ tour to England in 1950, just two years after their Test debuts. Their extraordinary performances with the bat, ball and fielding made this trio overnight stars for the West Indies cricket team.

Roles and responsibilities of the three W’s while playing for West Indies:

Everton Weekes: Weekes was first spotted by former cricketer Teddy Hoad, who was the captain of the West Indies cricket team in its first-ever test in 1930 against England. In 1945, Weekes made his first-class debut for Barbados against Trinidad and Tobago, in which he made scores of 8 & 0. Barbados lost the match by 10 wickets. Weekes had a dismal season that year but regained form the following season, where he averaged 67.57 with the bat as well as hit his maiden first-class hundred.

He debuted in tests against England in 1948 on the back of strong performances, particularly against the visiting MCC team, against whom he scored an unbeaten 118 runs. He scored 60 runs across two innings on his test debut. He scored his maiden test hundred, a 141, which was followed by four more successive test hundreds against India later that year during a tour to India. He was the first test cricketer to notch up four successive hundreds against India, breaking Don Bradman’s record of three successive hundreds against India earlier in that year (1948).

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Everton Weekes batting against England

He was the best batsman amongst the trio averaging 58.61 in 48 test matches for Windies. He had a particular liking for the Indian bowling attack, averaging a whopping 107 runs per innings. He also scored 4 test hundreds in India, a record that is shared only by Clive Lloyd. And overall, he had made 7 test hundreds against India.

He scored his highest Test score against India; a 207 at Port of Spain against the likes of Indian team’s premier leg spinner, Subhash Gupte, and the left-arm off-spin of ace Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad. He also scored three successive hundreds against New Zealand at their backyard in a Test series in 1956.

A hard hitter, his playing style resembled that of Don Bradman’s. Weeks retired in 1958 due to a cruel thigh injury. A cruel end to a promising career, though he became the first WI batsman to breach the 3000 and 4000 run mark. He ended up scoring 15 test hundreds and 19 fifties, with 4455 runs.

Post-retirement he served as a mentor to cricketers like Conrad Hunte and Seymour Nurse and in 1994, he served as a match referee for ICC in 4 test matches and 3 ODI’s. He died on 1 July 2020 due to cardiac arrest.

Clyde Walcott: He was the best “all-rounder” amongst the trio and could bat, bowl as well as keep wickets, Walcott started playing first-class cricket in 1942. What was also surprising that he used to keep wickets despite being a 6”2’ tall guy.

While in school with Frank Worrell, he set up the highest run partnership ever in first-class cricket; an unbroken 574 run fourth-wicket partnership, with Walcott himself scoring an unbeaten 314 runs and Worrell scoring an unbeaten 255 runs.

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Clyde Walcott batting

He was comfortable playing against all oppositions and was the most dominant in the home conditions of the Caribbean, where he scored 11 of his 15 test hundreds at an impressive batting average of 70. He was equally impressive in India as well as New Zealand conditions, where he averaged more than 60.

Apart from being a right-handed batsman, he was a right-arm fast-medium pacer taking 11 wickets in 44 tests that he played, took 53 catches, and effected 11 stumpings also! A true all-rounder who batted, bowled, fielded, and kept wickets!

He retired in 1960 by scoring 3798 runs in 44 tests at a batting average of 55.56 and became an administrator and manager of the WI cricket team, as well as became a referee for 3 test matches. In 1992, he became the first non-white and non-English chairman of ICC in 1993 and retired in 2000. He died in 2006 at the age of 80.

Frank Worrell: Worrell became the first-ever black captain of the West Indies cricket team in 1960 when it was a multiracial team. He was an influential and a charming captain who made West Indies a unifying force in the 1960s despite adversities.

He was a batting allrounder who was regular to feature in runs as well as in the wickets column. He played Test cricket only against four nations as opposed to the five opponents in that era. He didn’t play a single test against Pakistan while he played against England, Australia, India, and New Zealand. And unlike the other two W’s, he never played any test match in India.

He was a player who could play at any batting position; be it as an opener, or No.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or even at No.9, where he scored a half-century once! He narrowly missed a Test hundred on debut when he was caught out on 97 runs, but scored one in only his second test match.

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He would bowl long spells of left-arm medium pace as well as spin the ball whenever required. As an opening bowler, he once took 7 wickets in swing friendly conditions of England. He retired from professional cricket in 1964.

It was also said that he was a very generous person; he once gave blood to Nari Contractor when he suffered a career-ending head injury from a bouncer bowled by Charlie Griffith. Worrell was diagnosed with blood cancer when he was on a tour to India in 1966, this time as a team manager, and died in 1967, aged 42.

The three W’s; Weekes, Walcott, and Worrell became one of the first legends of the West Indies cricket, and it is their legacy and their determination to fight against all odds that made them an inspiration for the upcoming generations like Gary Sobers, Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, etc.

Featured Image: Twitter/Windies Cricket

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