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Let’s not forget Sir Frank’s feats
As we celebrate the heroic performance of Brian Lara and welcome his further contribution to the collection of West Indies memorabilia, let us not forget the groundwork of past stalwarts who were instrumental in preparing the foundation on which others have built down through the ages in the furtherance of West Indies cricket.
We should take time to resurrect memories of those great players, Frank Worrell, for example, that “Dear son of memory, great heir of fame.” Merely thinking of his prowess is in itself nostalgic; together with Clyde Walcott and Everton Weekes, that trio immortalized the supremacy of the unforgettable Three W’s.
According to the journal commemorating the Golden Jubilee of West Indies Test cricket, “No combination of batsmen has had quite the same devastating effect on opposing bowlers as the Three W’s, three Barbadians whose surnames, coincidentally, began with the same letter — Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes,” each had a classical style of playing the game that was all his own.
Much is heard these days of bowlers getting the ball to kiss the turf or batsmen clobbering the bowling but, in true Frank Worrell style, those deliveries were gently caressed to the boundary with footwork, flair and finesse befitting the steps of the best dancer of the day.
To add to the artistry, the ball would normally bisect fielders trying to hinder its path to the boundary.
The batsman, Worrell, had a reputation of “picking the ball out of the wicketkeeper’s gloves”. He executed the late cut at the last moment with such precision, that so it appeared. To hear the shot described brought as much joy to listeners as the thrill experienced by watching the choreography enacted, truly a picture of elegance.
Correctness seemed to be the hallmark of his game; offside strokes were reserved for balls on the offside of the wicket, leg-side shots dispatched loose deliveries where they belonged, but no one could ask for anything more than the trademark straight drive, back past the bowler, leaving the mid-on and mid-off fielders to collide in their effort to intercept the ball as it raced across the grass. It was challenged for perfection only by the cover drive that would impel jubilant spectators to rise to their feet with rich and well-deserved applause.
“It was fortunate that a man with the qualities of leadership of Frank Worrell should have been the first black touring captain for it was a crucial examination”, so said the journal. “Had he been a failure, it would have been a grave trauma. Instead, he made it such a success that the reputation of West Indies cricket never stood so high as under him.” The Queen knighted Worrell in 1964 for his services to the game.
Sir Frank Mortimer Maghine Worrell, born August 1,1924, disciplinarian and father-figure to those he captained, has left much that could be emulated by today’s generation of players if only they would realize the high standards they are required to uphold. Sir Frank played 51 Tests, scored 3860 runs at an average of 49.48, hitting 9 centuries with a highest score of 261 against England at Nottingham in 1950. He also took 69 wickets at an average of 38.73.
Sadly, Sir Frank Worrell died March 13 , 1967 but, deservingly, the memory and exemplary nature of a great man that graced cricket fields worldwide live on. O that he should now be inducted into that nation of men of honour, lest we forget all he has done for West Indies cricket. Let us remember that, “From lowest place when virtuous things proceed, the place is dignified by the doer’s deed.”
Luther G. Francis
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