Sir Frank Worrell was one of the world’s greatest cricketers and a great leader.
That’s how former Prime Minister of Jamaica, PJ Patterson, described the late Frank Worrell last night while speaking at the 18th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, Cave Hill Campus.
Highlighting the skill with which he played the English spinners during the 1948 tour, Patterson said: “The 38 runs Worrell made using his feet to the English players caused us to call him the Apollo of cricket. In later years he had that habit of building confidence in whichever player was at the other end. His use of his feet and his wrist enabled him to dispatch balls to the boundary which deceived good batsmen.
“The Test match at Trent Bridge was played during the holiday period and I was in a packed barber shop and everything came to a halt as every stroke played by Worrell was roundly cheered. I remember the cricket commentator, John Arlott, saying of Worrell’s 261: ‘He hooked, cut and drove with such majestic ease that the bowlers and fielders alike appeared awestruck so much that they led the applause. The man we honour tonight is undoubtedly among the finest batsman ever. Technically correct and a stylist, some commentators have described his batting as sheer poetry and he was a dancer with his feet,” Patterson said.
Describing his innings of 61 runs against the Australians, Patterson argued: “I may be questioned for saying that the 61 runs he made against Australia at Sabina Park when he was caught by Langley diving like a swallow to take a too delicate a leg glance, ranks among the most impressive innings I have ever seen in my entire life. Who can forget the defiant innings he played towards the end of his career at Sydney, Australia, when with his 82 runs he inspired Franz Alexander to score his first century. And I know no one in Barbados and in the world who will forget the First Test against the English team when he scored 197 and the great Sir Garfield Sobers chipped in with 226. The English commentators and scribes alike were lost for words, they simply ran out of superlatives.”
Patterson recalled that he had the privilege of meeting Worrell on several occasions during his sojourn in Jamaica when he was in charge of student affairs at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.
The cricket correspondent Neville Cardus once wrote: “An innings by Worrell knows no dawn, it begins at high noon” while CLR James has written extensively on the significance of Worrell in the campaign against an aggressive and oppressive social order.
Patterson told his audience which included former Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir David Symmonds, that after Worrell made a strong impression during the MCC tour of 1948, scoring 97 in the first Test and 131 not out at Bourda, he was excluded from the team to tour India because he had asked for a modest fee.
Comparing the WICB to the Republican Party in the USA, Patterson said: “The board like the Republican Party in the USA refused to negotiate. In 1949-1950 he was included in a Commonwealth team which toured India , scoring 684 runs in the unofficial Tests with an average of 97.71, two centuries, one a great double, 233 not out.”
Sir Frank died in 1967 of leukaemia at age 42. In 1960 he became the first black man to be appointed captain of the West Indies team. (NC)