Everton Weekes, Cricket Star and Racial Pioneer, Is Dead at 95

Everton Weekes, Cricket Star and Racial Pioneer, Is Dead at 95

Everton Weekes, Cricket Star and Racial Pioneer, Is Dead at 95

Everton Weekes, Cricket Star and Racial Pioneer, Is Dead at 95

The West Indies cricketer Everton Weekes was the last of the “three Ws” — batsmen linked by a matchless conjunction of birth, location and alliteration.

Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott were born within 17 months and two miles of one another in Bridgetown, Barbados, which in 1925, the year Weekes was born, had a population of 13,486. Walcott believed that the three had been delivered by the same midwife.

For a decade, beginning in the late 1940s, the trio gave the West Indies team the most intimidating batting lineup in world cricket. Each man was right-handed, each would be knighted for services to the game, and each was Black.

Everton Weekes died on July 1 in Christ Church, Barbados. He was 95 and the last surviving W. Worrell died in 1967 at 42; Walcott in 2006 at 80.

The Barbados Cricket Association announced Weekes’s death. No cause was specified, but he had been in poor health since having a heart attack last year.

The West Indies cricket broadcaster Tony Cozier wrote of the three Ws in 2015 that “in the fading days of British colonialism, all three broke the longstanding racial barrier of a sport always held as a badge of excellence by the islands of the cricketing Caribbean.”

Worrell was cricket’s nearest equivalent to Jackie Robinson. His appointment in 1960 as the first regular Black captain of the West Indies team ended the monopoly of the region’s white plantocracy. Walcott became, in 1993, the first chairman of the International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, who was not from England.

Everton Weekes, who had the poorest background of the three, was born on Feb. 26, 1925, in the Pickwick Gap district of Bridgetown. He was named for his father’s favorite English soccer team, the Everton Football Club of Liverpool. (The English cricketer Jim Laker once told Weekes, referring to Weekes’s father, “Just as well he didn’t support West Bromwich Albion.”) Everton was raised from the age of 8 by his mother after his father went to work in Trinidad.

He left St. Leonard’s School at 14 and joined the army at 17. His early cricket education came from assisting the groundskeeper at Bridgetown’s main cricket ground, Kensington Oval, but he could not join Pickwick, the club that played there, because it was all white. Instead he played for the army club Garrison, about two miles to the south. He broke into the Barbados team in 1945.

All three Ws played in the West Indies’ first postwar series of test matches — international contests played over five days — against England in 1948. In style of play, the three were a study in contrasts: Worrell was fluidly elegant, Walcott was a fearsome power hitter, and the 5-foot-8 Weekes was compact and ruthlessly efficient. But they shared an ability to destroy the best bowling.

The West Indies team in the 1950s lacked both the fast bowling and the leadership that would make it an all-conquering force in the 1970s and ’80s. Yet the trio shared triumphs, like the team’s first victory in England in 1950, prompting celebrations that heightened British awareness of what became known as the “Windrush generation” of postwar Caribbean immigrants.

Judging both by statistics and by much informed opinion, Weekes was the best batsmen of the three. Batting average retains greater currency in cricket analysis than in its baseball equivalent, and Weekes’s average of 58.61 runs per innings in test matches was better than Walcott’s 56.68 and Worrell’s 49.48. It is the fourth-highest of all time, and the best by a West Indian among completed careers of more than 50 innings in tests. In 1948, he became the only player in the 143-year history of test cricket to score 100 runs or more in five consecutive innings.

Weekes played 48 times for the West Indies before a persistent thigh injury led to his early retirement from tests in 1958. He played for Barbados until 1964. He later served Barbados and West Indies cricket in coaching and administrative roles, and as a broadcaster. He toured Canada and the United States as a player with England’s Marylebone Cricket Club in 1967, managed the Caribbean All-Stars team that visited New York in 1977, and coached Canada’s team in the World Cup in 1979.

He later redeployed his competitive instincts as a bridge player, representing Barbados in three world championships. In 1988 The New York Times’s bridge columnist, Alan Truscott, praised his “aggressive” playing in a regional tournament.

Weekes’s marriage to Joan Manning, in 1951, ended in divorce. He had three sons and a daughter from different relationships; one son, David Murray, also played cricket for the West Indies. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

Weekes enjoyed vigorous health into his 90s, and continued to swim in the sea every day until he was 93. He was knighted in 1995.

His death came as the current West Indies team prepared to play the first test match since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will face England at Southampton, behind closed doors.

Weekes lived to see himself commemorated with the other Ws through postage stamps, a statue, a grandstand at Kensington Oval and a cricket ground named in their honor, the 3Ws Oval, at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill campus, just outside Bridgetown. Worrell and Walcott are buried there, and the Barbados Cricket Association said Weekes was to be buried alongside them.


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