By Nasser Khan
As early as the 1900’s cricket had become a part of the West Indian people and was commonly played throughout the region.
With the game taking its permanent root in territorial soil it began to bear a crop of young players who brought their own homespun skill and flair to the field of play. Since achieving Test status in 1928 the Windies have become known for their unique flair eventually being dubbed the “Calypso Cricketers” and have captured the imagination of the cricketing world.
That a region as small as ours can produce such great cricketing stars as the following is truly amazing:
From Barbados: Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge, Wes Hall, Desmond Haynes, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Frank Worrell, Conrad Hunte.
From the Combined Islands: Curtly Ambrose, Sir Vivian Richards, Richie Richardson, Andy Roberts, Ridley Jacobs
From Guyana: Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lance Gibbs, Carl Hooper, Alvin Kallicharran, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredericks.
From Jamaica: Jeff Dujon, George Headley, Michael Holding, Lawrence Rowe, Courtney Walsh, Alf Valentine
From Trinidad & Tobago: Ian Bishop, Sir Learie Constantine, Larry Gomes, Brian Lara, Sonny Ramadhin, Deryck Murray
Through the years from the eras of Learie Constantine and George Headley, the 3 W’S era (Weekes, Worrell and Walcott), the Garry Sobers era, the Clive Lloyd era to the Brian Lara era, the West Indies have always been a force to be reckoned with, dominating the world stage for many years.
Here are some highlights of West Indies cricket
1930 – Our first Test victory, versus England in then British Guiana featuring Clifford Roach, first West Indian double centurion (209), George Headley’s 114 and 112 (first to score centuries in both innings) and Learie Constantine 5-87, first to take five wickets in an inning.
1948 – The legendary 3 W’s (Weekes, Walcott, Worrell) played together for the first time in a Test forming one of the greatest middle order combination ever. Weekes, from here went on to score 5 consecutive Test centuries!
1950 – Windies first ever Test victory at Lord’s cricket ground, saw Sonny Ramadhin taking 11 wickets and Alf Valentine 7, destroying England at the “mecca” of cricket
1958 – Garry Sobers 365 not out versus Pakistan in Jamaica passes Len Hutton’s Test highest score of 364
1959 – Wes Hall claims Windies first ever Test hat-trick versus Pakistan in Pakistan
1960 – Australia’s Ian Meckiff is brilliantly run out by Joe Solomon, a classic ending to cricket’s first tied Test at Brisbane, Australia.
1971 – Jack Noriega takes 9-95 in one innings at the Queen’s Park Oval versus India
1975 – Under Clive Lloyd, West Indies are crowned first World Cup champions beating Australia
1976 – Emergence of Michael ‘Whispering Death’ Holding (takes 14 wickets in the fifth Test at the Oval in England) and Viv ‘Master Blaster’ Richards (scored 1,811 runs in that calendar year)
1979 – Again under Clive Lloyd, 2nd successive World Cup win, versus England
1981 – Michael Holding’s legendary fearsome over to England’s Geoff Boycott at Kensington, Barbados
1984 – 5-0 series win over England, in England, dubbed a black white-wash
1986 – Viv Richards 56 ball fastest ever Test century in Antigua
1994 – Queen’s Park Oval: C. Ambrose explodes to bowl out England for 46 taking 6-24, one of the most devastating spells in Test cricket
1994 – Brian Lara surpasses Garry Sobers’ 1958 record to score 375 versus England in Antigua (45 fours)
1999 – Brian Lara 153 not out versus Australia secures a thrilling one wicket victory at Kensington Barbados, one of the greatest ever Test innings
2000 – Courtney Walsh became Test cricket’s all time leading wicket taker, 435, passing India’s Kapil Dev. He ended his career in 2001 with 519 wickets, the highest ever by any cricketer until then
2004 – Windies won the ICC champions tournament beating England in the final at the Oval in England
2004 – Brian Lara hits the highest ever Test score 400 not out (43 fours, 4 sixes), reclaiming the record from Australia’s Mathew Hayden versus England in Antigua
2005 – Brian Lara reaches 11,174 Test runs eclipsing Australia’s Allan Border as Test cricket’s highest run scorer, versus Australia, in Australia
2007 – West Indies host the World Cup for the first time.