It was a wonderful Wednesday afternoon at Kensington Oval as members of the champion 1966 Barbados first-class team, as well as two current talented West Indies players were specially honoured by the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and Cricket Franchise of Barbados Inc.
In the true spirit of the Christmas season, past Barbados and West Indies stars mingled with the current generation of cricketers, some of whom no doubt are destined for stardom as well.
To say that the occasion on December 21 was heart-warming is putting it mildly. Dubbed A Celebration of Cricketing Excellence, it took the form of a Christmas luncheon in the President’s Suite at Kensington Oval as glowing praise was heaped on the outstanding team of a half-century ago, captained by Garry Sobers, now The Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, for winning the first ever regionally sponsored Championship, the Shell Shield.
The team comprised of 13 players – Sobers, David Allan, Robin Bynoe, Richard “Prof” Edwards, Charlie Griffith, David Holford, Conrad Hunte (later Sir Conrad), Peter Lashley, Seymour Nurse (all of whom played four matches), Rawle Brancker, Tony Howard (three matches), Arthur Bethell and Tony White (one match).
Sir Conrad, a former BCA president, died in 1999.
Brancker and Bethell were the only members of the 1966 team who did not play Test cricket, although Brancker was in the West Indies touring team to England the same year.
Eight members – Sobers, Allan, Bethell, Brancker, Bynoe, Edwards, Griffith and Lashley – were present at the function and along with Holford’s wife, Marva, proudly accepted crystal awards.
Of those absent, Holford and Nurse have been battling health problems, Howard got stuck in Canada trying to get a flight back home and White has been living in Venezuela for ‘donkey years’.
In spirit, with his photo among the list of BCA presidents adorning the President’s Suite, Sir Conrad looked on.
Members of the Barbados Pride team also felt proud as all-rounder Roston Chase and opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite were highly lauded as well and rewarded for splendid Test performances this year.
Following a welcome and introduction by BCA Marketing Officer Javier Reid, who was Master of Ceremonies, BCA Chief Executive Officer Noel Lynch gave a brief analysis of the 1966 team, who were introduced by BCA Third vice-president Erskine King, himself a member of the champion 1967 Barbados Shell Shield side.
Members of the Barbados Pride team were introduced by Conde Riley, chairman of the Cricket Franchise of Barbados Inc. and a long-standing BCA Board member, as well as a director of the West Indies Cricket Board.
Riley is very passionate about the game and played a pivotal role in organising what was a most memorable, touching event.
Yours truly gave a review of the performances of the 1966 Barbados team and also listed the captains and years of all the champion Barbados first-class teams since 1966, numbering a record 22, in addition to reading citations on the remarkable feats of Chase and Brathwaite.
Acting BCA president Deighton Smith presented the awards to members of the 1966 team, while Sir Garfield and Bynoe made presentations to Chase and Brathwaite respectively.
Brathwaite gave the Vote of Thanks.
Bynoe and Brathwaite, both members of Barbados’ oldest club, Wanderers, also share special achievements in that they were both aged 18 when they made their Test debut, and co-incidentally against Pakistan.
Bynoe, a product of Harrison College, played his first Test at Lahore in March 1959, while Brathwaite, schooled at Combermere, had his first taste on the big stage at Warner Park in St. Kitts in May 2011.
In relation to the wonderful performances of Chase and Brathwaite, in the second Test against India at Sabina Park, Jamaica, July 30 to August 3, 2016, Chase, a tall 24-year-old in only his second Test, was the star.
He made an unbeaten 137 in the second innings and along with figures of five for 121 as an off-spinner, became the first West Indian in 50 years to achieve the special feat of scoring a century and taking five wickets in an innings in the same Test as West Indies defied the odds to earn a draw.
That the previous double by a West Indian was recorded by the game’s greatest ever all-rounder, Sir Garfield Sobers, was most significant.
And Chase joined the incomparable Sobers just six days after Sobers celebrated his 80th birthday.
Chase also became only the fourth West Indian after Denis Atkinson, O’Neil “Collie” Smith and Sobers (twice) to take a five-wicket haul and score a century in the same Test match.
Scores were: West Indies 196 and 388 for six. India 500 for nine declared.
Sobers’ first achievement was in April 1962 against India at Sabina Park when he made 104 and 50 and took five for 63 in the second innings as West Indies won by 123 runs. Scores were: West Indies 253 and 283. India 178 and 235.
Then in August 1966, as captain, Sobers hit 174 and took five for 41 in the first innings against England at Headingley, Leeds, spurring West Indies to victory by an innings and 55 runs.
West Indies scored 500 for nine declared and bowled England out for 240 and 205.
Seven Barbadians played in that match – Sobers, Conrad Hunte, Peter Lashley, Seymour Nurse, who made 137, David Holford, Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall. The other members of the team were the Guyanese trio of Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher and Lance Gibbs and Jackie Hendriks of Jamaica.
At the age of 23, Brathwaite achieved an unprecedented feat. He became the first opener to be unbeaten in both innings of a Test with scores of 142 and 60 in a winning cause in the third and final match against Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, October 30 to November 3, 2016.
Vice-captain Brathwaite not only led West Indies to an absorbing five-wicket win but their first away Test victory since 2007 – excluding minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe – when they defeated South Africa by 128 runs at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The headline “Un-outable Brathwaite seals rare victory” carried on Cricinfo, was very catchy.
Brathwaite and another Barbadian, wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich, combined for a nerveless, unbroken 87-run stand to steer their side to that memorable victory and finish a tough tour of the United Arab Emirates on a high. Dowrich also made 60 not out.
It was also a big relief for yet another Barbadian, fast bowling all-rounder Jason Holder, who registered his first Test win in 12 matches as captain, as well as his first five-wicket haul (five for 30 in the second innings).
Scores: Pakistan 281 and 208. West Indies 337 and 154 for five.
In reviewing the performances of the 1966 Barbados team, it was pointed out that Barbados amassed 42 points including three wins, British Guiana (now Guyana) finished second on 24 (one win), followed by Combined Islands 16 (one win), Trinidad & Tobago 12 (no wins), Jamaica 10 (no wins).
Those three victories were against British Guiana, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica and it is safe to say that the Combined Islands only escaped defeat in the first match of the season at Kensington Oval (February 9, 10, 11, 12) because there was no play on the final day.
Combined Islands were bowled out for 141 (57.1 overs) in their first innings with left-arm spinner Brancker not only achieving his first ever five-wicket haul in a first-class match but his figures of six for 39 off 18.1 overs proved ultimately to be the best by any bowler that season. This was after he came on as the fifth of six bowlers behind Griffith, Edwards, Sobers and Holford. White was the other bowler.
Barbados responded with 396 for five (93.4 overs). Nurse led the way with 153, Lashley made 92, Bynoe 62 and Allan 42 not out.
Arguably, the most telling victory was against the mighty British Guiana by an innings and 15 runs in the second match, also played at Kensington (February 18, 19, 21 and 22).
With a batting line-up showcasing the likes of Steve Camacho, Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon and Clive Lloyd, British Guiana were bowled for 227 (71.3 overs).
Sobers grabbed six for 56 off 21.3 overs including the scalps of his West Indies team-mates Butcher, for 99, and Kanhai for 69.
Griffith took the first two wickets cheaply and also removed Solomon for 28 en route to figures of three for 28 off 11 overs.
Barbados replied with 559 for nine declared (189 overs), which was the highest total of the Tournament, and that was against an attack including the West Indies off-spinner Lance Gibbs.
Sobers made 204 and Brancker 132. Their fifth wicket partnership of 214 was the second highest of the Championship that season, as Nurse and Lashley added 221 for the fourth wicket against Jamaica at Sabina Park in Kingston (in the last match), which Barbados won by seven wickets.
Guyana were bowled out for 317 (101.5 overs) in the second innings with Griffith taking four for 49 off 15.5 overs. From all reports Lloyd made a brilliant century (107), his maiden first-class hundred, before he was bowled by off-spinner Howard, who was making his first-class debut, and who also bowled Kanhai for 43. Solomon got 70.
The third highest stand of 176 for the third wicket, co-incidentally, was achieved by Nurse and Lashley, as well, against the Combined Islands.
To underline Barbados’ dominance, they demolished Trinidad & Tobago by an innings and 108 runs with a day to spare at Kensington (February 25, 26 and 28).
Trinidad & Tobago fell for 148 (55.1 overs) as the “spin twins”, Holford and Howard, were the wreckers. Leg-spinner Holford took four for 56 off 17.4 overs and Howard, three for 23 off 18 overs.
Spurred by centuries from Bynoe and Lashley, Barbados responded with 427 all out (110.2 overs). Lashley topscored with 120 and Bynoe made 104, the pair putting on 171 for the second wicket, which was the fourth highest of the Competition.
It meant that Barbados featured in the top four partnerships that season.
In that match against Trinidad & Tobago, Sobers scored 76 not out at No. 7 and added 80 for the last wicket with Edwards, who got 31.
Trinidad & Tobago were bowled out for 171 (63.1 overs) in the second innings with Griffith taking four 41 off 18 overs including the wickets of the Davis brothers, Bryan and Charlie and the now deceased Richard deSouza.
The climax win by seven wickets over Jamaica (March 5, 7, 8 and 9) featured Barbadian EHC “Teddy” Griffith, son of the great Herman Griffith, representing Jamaica as an opener. Teddy Griffith later became president of the West Indies Cricket Board.
Jamaica made 193 (78.5 overs) with Holford taking four for 51. His cousin Sobers dismissed Teddy Griffith, bowled for 20.
In Barbados’ 421 for four declared (132 overs), Nurse hit 126 with 18 fours and one six and Lashley, as stubborn as ever, an unbeaten 121 including 12 fours and one six, following a first wicket stand of 127 between Hunte (61) and Bynoe (71).
Jamaica scored 260 (96 overs) in the second innings with Holford again being the leading wicket-taker with four for 80 off 29 overs.
And clearly Sobers had Teddy Griffith’s number, as he again bowled him, this time for 15, in picking up three for 48 off 26 overs.
In Barbados’ winning score of 36 for three, it was of great significance that one Charlie Griffith opened the batting with Hunte and was bowled by Rudy Cohen for three.
So in summing up the highlights of that wonderful 1966 Barbados team, it has to be pointed out that Lashley was the leading run-getter with 387 including two centuries and two half-centuries, at an average of 129.00.
Nurse followed with 364 including two centuries and one fifty, at an average of 91.00.
Sobers and Brancker jointly headed the overall batting averages with 145.00. Sobers scored 290 runs in three innings with one not out and Brancker batted twice including one not out in scoring 145.
Holford was the leading wicket-taker all told with 18 scalps at 21.44 runs apiece; Griffith got 15, Sobers 14 and Brancker, ten.
Howard, now aged 70, was the “baby” of the team at 24 and Nurse is now the oldest survivor at 83. Sir Conrad, who passed December 3, 1999 at the age of 67, would have been 84 were he alive today.
Eleven members of the 1966 side – Sobers, Brancker, Edwards, Howard, Lashley, Nurse, Bethell, Bynoe, Griffith, Holford and Hunte – also played in the Cup winning team of the following season, with Geoffrey Greenidge, Alfred Taylor (who is now deceased), Wycliffe Phillips, Vanburn Holder and Erskine King featuring as well.
It was another dominant season, Barbados winning three matches in gaining 26 points – 12 more than second placed Guyana.
The Barbados champion teams, with the captains mentioned in each year, were: 1966, 1967 (Garfield Sobers), 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 (all David Holford), 1978 (Vanburn Holder), 1979 (David Holford and Lawrence Maxwell), 1980, 1982 (Albert Padmore), 1984 (Carlisle Best), 1986 (Joel Garner), 1991 (Desmond Haynes), 1995 (Courtney Browne), 1997 (Philo Wallace), 1999 (Roland Holder), 2001 (Ian Bradshaw), 2003, 2004 (Courtney Browne), 2007 (Ryan Hinds) 2013 (Kirk Edwards) and 2014 (Kraigg Brathwaite).
Browne was the Barbados captain in 2003 and 2004 when they were the Carib Beer “International” champions.
At the end of Wednesday’s function, Mario Rampersaud, the chirpy Barbados Pride wicket-keeper/batsman who plays for St. Catherine, came over to me and remarked how touched he was to learn of the remarkable performances of the 1966 Barbados Shell Shield team.
There was no doubt in Rampersaud’s mind that the Barbados and West Indies players of yesteryear truly laid a solid foundation for others to follow as he got a greater understanding of the rich history of Barbados’ cricket.
Kudos to the BCA and Cricket Franchise of Barbados Inc. for staging such a memorable event. It was truly a wonderful Wednesday.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. email: firstname.lastname@example.org