By Keith Holder
Former Barbados and West Indies batting great Sir Everton Weekes died here today at the age of 95 after ailing for some time.
Sir Everton died quietly at his home, Chancery Lane, in the southern parish of Christ Church, just before 12.30 p.m.
Up until his passing, Weekes was the oldest West Indies Test cricketer.
Born February 26, 1925 in the low-income village centred around Pickwick Gap, just outside of the revered international ground, Kensington Oval, Sir Everton was one of the famous Three Ws.
The others were Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott, who were also born on this renowned 166-square-mile cricketing island, within 18 months of each other.
Worrell, the oldest died at the age of 42 in 1967, while Walcott passed, aged 80, in 2006.
Sir Everton DeCourcy Weekes played 48 Test matches between January 21, 1948 and March 31, 1958. He scored 4455 runs including 15 centuries and 19 half-centuries, at an average of 58.61. His highest score was 207. He also took 49 catches.
In 152 first-class matches, Weekes amassed 12010 runs with 36 hundreds and 54 half-centuries including a highest of 304 (ave: 55.34).
Also a former Barbados captain and team manager, Weekes first came to prominence when he served with the Barbados Battalion of the Caribbean regiment. He was spotted by ELG Hoad, who captained the West Indies in the first-ever Test in the Caribbean against England in Barbados, 1929-30.
By the age of 18, Weekes had made his debut for Barbados as an opening batsman. Although he was impressive at national level, he did not make it to the West Indies team until the 1947-48 MCC tour of the West Indies.
Of all his prodigious feats in Test cricket, Weekes is perhaps best remembered for his five consecutive Test centuries – still a world record. The first was against England in 1947-48 and the other four off India in 1948-49.
On that Indian tour, he amassed 779 runs at an average of 111.28 and reckons that his 162 in the third Test at Calcutta was his best Test innings despite scoring 194 at Bombay. He was well set for another century in his next innings when on 90 he was adjudged run out at Madras.
In one of several interviews with this correspondent, Sir Everton, with his characteristic modesty, said: “I wouldn’t like to go around with a placard on my back saying that I made five consecutive Test centuries because the first thing people would say is that ‘I always knew he was crazy’.”
Weekes was also a noted bridge player. He started playing the game seriously in 1974 and competed in World Championships in Holland, Seattle and Venice.
“It’s a beautiful experience playing another sport at that level. I see some of the players at the table behaving very much like some of our cricketers nowadays. I suppose because I played another sport, I am a bit more tolerant than most of the players,” he told me while relaxing at his home.
Weekes was also a fond lover of jazz music, which he collected for many years and enjoyed travelling as well.
He was known as well for keeping very fit until ill-health set in. One of his popular spots was at Enterprise Beach, commonly known as “Miami Beach” in Christ Church.
Way back in a 1990 interview with yours truly for Cricket Life magazine, of which the Editor-in-Chief was Imran Khan, the outstanding former Pakistan captain and fast bowling all-rounder, who is now his country’s Prime Minister, Weekes spoke frankly about his life.
When told that sea-bathing seemed to be one of his hobbies, Weekes, a former Empire Club player and Government cricket coach remarked: “I have been doing this for years. I walk about four or five miles on the beach and swim for about half-an-hour. You get some satisfaction knowing that if you are not on a hospital bed and you are not sick, you can make an effort to get reasonably fit. It’s not a bad habit to acquire. I miss it sometimes when I am out of Barbados but I at least try to walk if I cannot find a nice place to swim.
“I am happy with life. I am not crying too much. I suppose the pioneers never seem to get much out of the beautiful things in life but I am not complaining.
“I am happy to see that cricketers nowadays are pretty well satisfied with the money they are making out of the sport. I can only hope that they use it wisely. We can’t all be born at the same time. I suppose a lot of people who played the game at the time I played would, in retrospect, say that they would prefer to be playing now.
“But I always maintain that somebody had to roll the pitches, prepare the grounds and make it easier for some of the players. I am happy that I was part of that crowd that helped to prepare the way for modern cricketers.”
In that 1990 interview, Weekes remarked: “I have a travelling bug. I have been travelling ever since I was 18 and I still like to go away from this beautiful island to get away from some of the nice and ugly things. I travel at least ten times a year, mainly to North America and Canada.
“I like church music. I was brought up in the days when one had to go to Sunday school. Frank (Worrell) and I used to sing quite a lot of church music on cricket tours.”
Weekes was the father of three sons and one daughter. One of his sons, David Murray, is a former Barbados and West Indies wicket-keeper/batsman. Another son, Andy Weekes, played for the Barbados Youth team as a batsman and was a contemporary of former Barbados captain and West Indies fast bowling great Joel Garner and former Barbados batsman Michael Walcott, son of Sir Clyde, while they were students at the then Boys’ Foundation School.
Andy Weekes, a stylish batsman and also an excellent footballer at school, gave up cricket early for a music career, while Sir Everton’s grandson, Ricky Hoyte (Murray’s son), also played for Barbados.
Apart from the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Sir Everton was also awarded the Gold Crown of Merit and the Order of the British Empire. He served as an ICC match referee as well.
In 1995, he was the last of the 3Ws to be knighted.
Sir Everton also worked as a radio analyst for international and regional first-class matches at Kensington Oval.
President of Cricket West Indies Ricky Skerritt paid tribute to the late great cricket icon.
“He had an amazing legacy as a great cricketer and great human being. He was one of the most humble and decent persons you would have ever met. I want to take this opportunity to publicly express our deepest sympathy to the family of this remarkable gentleman, who passed away earlier today,” said Skerritt said.
President of the Barbados Cricket Association Conde Riley also expressed his profound sadness at Sir Everton’s passing. “Sir Everton was one of our greats. His was a massive contribution to Barbados and West Indies cricket. This is a sad time for cricket. We have lost a legend,” Riley said.
President of the West Indies Players Association Wavell Hinds also paid homage to the great Barbadian sportsman. “A true legend of our cricketing family has passed, Sir Weekes’ contribution to Barbados, West Indies and the global game is immeasurable. We salute his legacy and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the cricket fraternity. May his soul rest in peace and light perpetually shine upon him,” Hinds said.