Inevitably, there is much more to write about the late, great Barbados and West Indies batsman Sir Everton Weekes, who died at the age of 95 on July 1 after a lengthy illness.
On so many occasions, references have been made to the fact that Sir Everton struck only one six in his Test career of 48 matches between January 21, 1948 and March 31, 1958, during which he amassed 4455 runs including 15 centuries (five of them in successive innings – still a world record) 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 piled up 12010 runs with 36 hundreds and 54 half-centuries including a highest of 304 (ave: 55.34).
Weekes was one of the famous Three Ws – the others were also Barbadians, Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott, who both predeceased him.
As far as his solitary six in Test matches is concerned, I return to my cherished interview with Weekes in 1990 for Cricket Life magazine, of which the Editor-in-Chief was Imran Khan, the great former Pakistan captain and fast bowling all-rounder, who is now his country’s Prime Minister.
Considered as a technical purist, Weekes explained that, “you have a better chance hitting the ball flat rather than in the air. Three fours, in my opinion, are always better than two sixes.”
He also expressed his views about batsmen using their pads when playing the ball.
“It has crept into cricket all over the world. I see West Indies players now using the pad as the first line of defence rather than the second. I am not boasting in any way but when I was playing cricket and the ball hit my pad, I was very scared because obviously I missed it. But nowadays it’s a deliberate thing to put the pad,” Weekes remarked.
“Once in a Test match in 1950 (against England), I pushed forward to William Hollies, a leg-spinner (who is mainly remembered for taking the wicket of the incomparable Australian batsman Sir Donald Bradman for a duck in Bradman’s final Test innings, in which he needed only four runs for a Test average of 100), and the great one-handed umpire, Frank Chester, gave me out lbw to a ball I thought was pitched outside the leg stump. The evening after he said to me: ‘Young man, you must use the bat and not your pad’. I am not saying he was right or wrong. I thought my pad was outside the leg stump but that was a lesson for me – continue to hit the ball rather than push the pad at it.”
In October 2002, Sir Everton was presented with a new Volkswagon Passat motorcar and lauded for his outstanding contribution to cricket radio broadcasting during a ceremony in Barbados.
Among those paying glowing tributes to Sir Everton were the Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur, then president of the West Indies Cricket Board (now called Cricket West Indies) Wes Hall, who was a great West Indies fast bowler and Rudolph Greenidge, the Sports Minister.
The state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio and television station where Sir Everton performed the role of cricket analyst in coverage of Test, regional first-class and One-Day International matches for over two decades, hosted the two-hour ceremony.
Several former Barbados and West Indies Test players attended including Sir Clyde Walcott, Seymour Nurse, Charlie Griffith (now Sir Charles), David Holford and Cammie Smith.
Also present were former WICB president Peter Short, president of the Windward Islands Cricket Board, Lennox John and the Barbados Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons.
Sir Clyde died at aged 80 in August 2006, Short passed at 89 in August 2015 and Nurse died at 83 in May last year.
In a brief address, Arthur said he was delighted that CBC had allowed him to be part of the function, which he said was “bigger than cricket” as it shows “a man can be a gentleman for ever”.
“This function is of symbolic significance not because of the cricket but because we do not ever forget who (Sir) Everton Weekes was for the sake of Barbados,” Arthur said.
“It is absolutely imperative that we continue to hold up to our young people especially, the superior example of the rest of Barbados, who by his very living, captures the real essence of the Barbadian personality,” Arthur added.
Arthur said Sir Everton, like the former Barbados and West Indies captain and world’s greatest ever all-rounder, The Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, “occupies a very special place in the handling of the Barbadian society” and is “an emblem of what is a true Barbadian”.
Arthur remarked that Sir Everton’s case “is not just a matter of reaching the very top but sustaining greatness over an extended period over a number of fields”.
Apart from the new state-of-the-art vehicle, Sir Everton also received two years free gasoline and a year’s free comprehensive insurance, an all-inclusive week for two, compliments Elegant Resorts, and a special mahogany set, adorned with a bat and microphone.
Former Barbados all-rounder and well-known businessman Rawle Brancker and respected female commentator Donna Symmonds, an attorney-at-law, also spoke glowingly of Sir Everton.
In April 2007 with West Indies hosting the World Cup, I was privileged to interview the likes of Sir Everton, Sir Garfield and former South African opening batsman Barry Richards at the end of a Commemorative Coin Launch for Sir Garfield, Sir Everton, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell at the Grande Salle of the Tom Adams Financial Centre.
Following are excerpts of the interview with Sir Everton and Sir Garfield:
HOLDER: How does it feel with the commemorative coins being launched in honour of such distinguished cricketing idols?
SOBERS: I think it’s a tremendous thing to have your image and your name on a coin as such, and I just would like to say that to be joined with the 3Ws, Sir Everton, Sir Frank and Sir Clyde, it is absolutely a tremendous thing, and to have the Central Bank honour us in this way, it’s really one of these things that you get kind of embarrassed, particularly when Wes Hall is speaking on your behalf and to listen to Wes and Professor (Hilary) Beckles speak, I don’t think you can have two better speakers in any room than the two of those, and this was a tremendous occasion.
I am greatly honoured to the Central Bank for naming me on one of their coins, and it’s a great honour for me this evening to receive one of the coins.
HOLDER: Sir Everton, Sir Garfield talks about being extremely happy and moved by this occasion. How does it feel for you as well?
WEEKES: Yes, it’s always I find emotional, especially when I have to speak about Frank and more recently Clyde. They have gone beyond of course and we were so tight, we were so close. We were great friends and every now and again, I go through a bit of a trauma remembering the great days that we spent together and that sort of thing.
It is not easy to get up and talk about them. As you said, it will be always very emotional but I try to think of the good times we’ve had together. We’ve had some great times together and then later on Garry joined us back in ’53, ’54 and ’55 and was always a student of the game, a visionary. And as I said tonight, apart from a great cricketer, a great sportsman, he’s easily one of the three finest people I’ve ever met.
HOLDER: You look at this Hall here this evening, the Grande Salle of the Central Bank and quite a number of outstanding cricketers who would have represented Barbados and the West Indies. At the very same time, this a period when West Indies on the field are having it extremely rough, Sir Everton, in terms of their quest for a semi-final place at the World Cup. What would you say to the current generation in terms of what West Indies cricket has given to guys like yourself, Sir Clyde, Sir Frank and Sir Garry?
WEEKES: I wonder if they ever pay much attention to what cricket has done for us and in a lot of cases, what cricket has done for some of them.
In their particular cases, right away you could that see that some of them are economically stronger than we were after playing for four or five years for the West Indies back in the 40s and 50s. Things have changed dramatically over the years and I would like to think that they would make full use of the opportunities given to them now.
Apart from the actual cricket, I wonder sometimes if they sit back and listen to themselves. They’ve all been exposed to a secondary school education, free of course, and it is frightening to hear some of them speak. It hurts the ears. I am no Grammar school boy. I am no secondary education boy but there are books you can read to strengthen your knowledge, and the simple errors that they make, I am sometimes very ashamed of them. And most of them look like me, so it makes it even more frightening.
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 over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Email: [email protected]
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