WINDIES LEGEND SIR EVERTON WEEKES DIED

Sir Everton Weekes, the last member of the legendary 3 W’s of West Indies cricket has died in his native Barbados. He was 95.

Alongside Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, Weekes formed a formidable batting unit in the West Indies team. All three were born within a couple of miles of one another. It is rumour that they were delivered by the same midwife within 18 months between August 1924 and January 1926, and all made their Test debuts within three weeks in early 1948.

While all went on to enjoy outstanding careers Worrell became West Indies’ first long-term black captain and was later a senator in Jamaica, while Walcott averaged 56.68 in Test cricket and later became the first non-white chairman of the International Cricket Council. Weekes was, arguably, the best batsman of the three.

At one stage, between March and December 1948, he registered five successive Test centuries and insisted that, but for an umpiring error when he was adjudged run-out for 90, it would have been six. He passed 1000 Test runs in 12 innings, none fewer than Sir Don Bradman. Nobody has reached the milestone quicker than Weekes. He finished with an outstanding Test average of 58.61. Only nine men who have batted a minimum of 20 times in Test cricket have a higher average. Richie Benaud later stated that players who had seen both bat at close quarters suggested that Weekes was closest in style and class to Bradman.

Weekes was born into extreme poverty. His family lived in a wooden shack and his father was obliged to spend more than a decade in Trinidad sending the family back money. Everton left school at 14 and was barred from playing for his local club, Pickwick, as they only permitted white players at that time.

Yet such was his sporting ability and so dedicated was he to his craft, that people soon started to notice the stocky lad with the quick feet. Named in honour of Everton Football Club, Weekes was a good enough footballer to represent Barbados. But cricket was his real love. He volunteered to help both as substitute fielder and as a member of the ground staff at the Kensington Oval and was, as a consequence, able to see some of the best players in the world at close quarters. He also joined the Barbados Defence Force and, as a result, was eligible to play a high standard of club cricket.

He made his first-class debut as a 19-year-old and his Test debut aged 22. His first Test century didn’t come until his 4th game but it was the start of an incredible run in which scored 6 centuries, including five in succession, and five half-centuries in his next 13 innings. Only once was he dismissed for fewer than 48.

He was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1951 after helping defeat England in the previous summer’s Test series, a tour on which he made seven centuries, five of them double-centuries and one of them a triple. In 1952-53 he averaged 102.28 in the series against India and was equally dominant in New Zealand in 1955-56 in a Test series in which he made three successive centuries and averaged 83.60.

A persistent thigh injury forced him to retire relatively prematurely. He was 33 and had played 48 Tests, but he enjoyed and five half-centuries in his next 13 innings. Only once was he dismissed for fewer than 48.

He was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1951 after helping defeat England in the previous summer’s Test series, a tour on which he made seven centuries, five of them double-centuries and one of them a triple. In 1952-53 he averaged 102.28 in the series against India and was equally dominant in New Zealand in 1955-56 in a Test series in which he made three successive centuries and averaged 83.60.

A persistent thigh injury forced him to retire relatively prematurely. He was 33 and had played 48 Tests, but he enjoyed successful secondary careers first as a coach, and from 1994, as an ICC match referee. He also represented Barbados in Bridge and became a Justice of the Peace. His son, David Murray, played for West Indies and is remembered as an outstanding wicketkeeper.

Despite his status as a legend of the game, Sir Everton remained a humble and approachable figure. His home number remained in the Barbados phone book and he could be seen almost every day, well into his 90s, swimming at Miami Beach, near Oistins. In 1995 he became the last of the three W’s to receive a knighthood.
Sir Everton Weekes. Dead at 95.