West Indies cricket has given many great characters to the game. There were fiercest fast bowlers like Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose and others, majestic batsmen like Viv Richards and Brian Lara but whenever we talk about the charisma and sporting behavior on the ground, we have Sir Frank Worrell.
The first ever colored person to lead West Indies in a test match Sir Frank Worrell made his debut on this day, 71 years ago. It was a test match against England played at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad. England won the toss and elected to bat first. A century by the debutant Billy Griffith helped England to put 362 in the first innings. Wilf Ferguson, the Trinidad born bowler had a five-wicket haul. The deadly Griffith lost his wicket to the Windies debutant Franck Worrell. Coming to bat, West Indies openers produced two centuries. One of the openers, Andy Ganteaume, had his debut on the same match.
With two wickets down on board for Windies, Sir Frank Worrell entered. His well crafted 97 off 195 balls helped the Windies to continue the momentum. Although he fell short of three runs to become a centurion on debut he was instrumental to put a mammon Windies total of 497 in the first innings. The second innings saw century from another opener Robertson (133). Ferguson was again destructive to take six wickets in the second innings but Windies could put a decent total of 275 on board. With a target of 141 on day five, West Indies finished the match with 72 for three in 16.2 overs. Interestingly Sir Frank Worrell was the highest scorer in this innings for Windies with 28 runs.
Billy Griffith and Andy Ganteaume became only the second pair of players to score debut centuries in the same test match. Bryan Valentine(136) and Lala Amarnath(118) were there first two to do so in Mumbai in 1933 between the test match of England and India. Ganteaume never played again after this match despite producing a century.
Sir Frank Worrell was the part of the famous Windies Three W’s. He became one of those names who lifted the West Indian middle order to an unprecedented high. The combination of Clyde Walcott- Everton Weeks-Frank Worrell was arguably the best middle order in the history of test cricket. They played 29 tests together and Worrell had the best average in those matches compared to the other two. Worrell’s average was 51.97 with Walcott (49.78) and Weekes (47.22) in the second and third positions respectively.
Sir Frank Worrell became the captain of West Indies cricket team prior to the 1961-62 Australia tour. The first test of the five-match series ended in a tie. This was the first ever tied test match in the history of the game. Don Bradman went on to declare it as the “greatest thing that’s ever happened to the game”. It was considered to be the ‘most wonderful cricket tour Australia has known’. The Aussies were so impressed by Sir Frank Worrell that they went on to name the trophy after him. West Indies first won the trophy in 1964-65 and took it home.
Sir Frank Worrell Day
We began the article mentioning how sporting Sir Frank Worrell was. Let’s conclude the article in the same note with the mention of a famous incident. During India’s West Indies tour in 1962, the Indian captain Nari Contractor was hit on the head by the delivery of Charlie Griffith. The skipper needed blood urgently while undergoing an emergency operation. Among the Indians, there was one West Indian who came forward to donate blood and it was none other than Sir Frank Worrell. The Cricket Association of Bengal observes the same day as Frank Worrell Day and organizes a blood donation drive.
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