Almanac Cricket: Sir Everton Weekes – a tribute

Sir Everton Weekes – a doyen of West Indies cricket (Image source: Cricinfo)

 

SIR EVERTON DECOURCEY WEEKES  (1925 – 2020)

 

A young Indian cricket journalist friend of mine, upon hearing of the death of Everton Weekes, said to me “you must have seen Weekes bat?”. I think there might have been a bit of tongue-in-cheek there with that statement. When questioned he said “there would be very few people around who saw him bat?”. I had to acknowledge he was right.

 

I remember seeing Everton Weekes play at the MCG in the third test match against Australia in 1951-52. The game was played over the Christmas/ New Year holidays, but not in what now is known as the Boxing Day test.

 

As a 14-year-old cricket fanatic I had heard about the ‘Three W’s’ – Walcott, Weekes and Worrell, long before they arrived on Australia shores.

 

We had all heard about them and the spin twins Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, who wreaked havoc in the series against England in 1950, as well as on the tour of Australia a year later. In that time frame, Ramadhin took 135 wickets at 14.88 and Valentine 123 wickets at 17.94.

 

The three batsmen had been major players in the team that had thrashed England in 1950 three matches to one. Four times in that series the Windies scored over 400 runs, and Weekes headed the series batting with 338 runs at 56.33.

 

Between them the triumvirate scored 5759 runs with 20 centuries. No wonder this cricket aficionado wanted to see them “live”.

 

Everton De Courcey Weekes was short and chunky (much like David Warner), but was immensely quick on his feet with an armoury of attacking strokes all around the wicket. Once he got into his stride he was relentless in taking the game away from the bowlers.

 

Weekes was expected to be the key player that the Australian bowlers needed to get early if they were to get on top of this side.

 

The series was the first in which covers were applied to the wickets each night after play.

 

Unfortunately for me and other cricket devotees, Weekes performed nowhere near his ability. For the series he scored in total 248 runs at 24.8 with only two scores over fifty – 70 in Brisbane and 56 in Sydney. Walcott was a complete failure, although a back injury hampered his batting (87 runs at an average of 14.5) and he only played in three tests. Worrell scored 337 runs at 33.7 and made a memorable century (108) in Melbourne with only the use of one-hand.

 

At least I saw that innings of pluck and determination!

 

The match itself was one of the most exciting test matches ever, with the Richmond Tiger duo of Doug Ring and Bill Johnston scoring 38 runs for the last wicket to win the match from a West Indian team that lost the plot in the last part of the game.  It was to be the first of many close encounters between Australia and the West Indies.

 

Asked after the game if he felt nervous as the winning target came nearer, Johnston replied “no, I wasn’t a bit nervous. I knew we couldn’t get the runs!”.

 

Watching Weekes stride to the wicket was like watching a master of his craft coming to slaughter the opposition. He looked the complete cricketer. Unfortunately for me, in his two innings he could only manage 6 runs (1 and 5). His fielding was superb wherever placed and he cut off many runs in the area between point and cover.

 

Why did he fail in Australia?

 

Two things come to mind. Firstly the Australian bowling attack of Lindwall, Miller and Bill Johnston had targeted him and peppered him with many short balls. Secondly, I believe the pace of the wickets was completely foreign to him. He was either caught behind or at first slip on six of his ten dismissals.

 

It must be added to his credit that he was the number one target of the Aussie bowlers and they were still a fearsome trio – the best in the world by far at this time.

 

I, along with thousands of Australian cricket fans, never saw the best of Everton Weekes, but his record stands alone for his ability as one of the outstanding batsmen of his day.

 

48 Test matches and 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61 including 15 centuries is remarkable. It goes with a first-class career spanning from 1944 to 1964 that yielded 12,010 runs at 52.90 and 36 centuries.

 

All three ‘W’s’ were knighted for their service to cricket.

 

 

 

 

Read a biography of Sir Everton Weekes here.

 

View the career record of Sir Everton here.

 

Read the BBC’s tribute here.

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

Comments

  1. Kevin Densley says

    Fine piece, Bob. Love the history!

  2. Grand reflections Citrus. Weekes seems to have been a wonderful man as much as a brilliant cricketer. Many fine batsmen (batters are for fish & baseball) from countries with lower slower wickets were caught out by the bounce and pace of our pitches (before drop-ins). Aravinda de Silva comes to mind.
    Is Lindwall, Miller & Johnston the best 3 pronged quick attack Australia ever had? Great variety of styles. Lillee, Thomo & Max the only competition? Australia lacked a top spinner in the late 40’s and 50’s until Benaud matured. Which begs the question of the best all round attack?
    The Windies under Lloyd has to be the best Test attack of all time. No respite. Take your pick of a half dozen great quicks.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Bob for this fine appreciation of Everton Weekes, made special by your memory of seeing him bat. I wasn’t conscious of cricket at the time of that series, but recall the wonderful 1960-61 West indies tour when Worrell’s leadership in co-operation with the sainted Richie Benaud revived test cricket, although I wasn’t able to attend any of the matches.
    Thanks also for the pointers to the obituaries; I had no idea that they had all emerged from the same tiny corner of Barbados (and delivered by the same midwife) within a matter of months of each other.

  4. citrus bob says

    KD – like you I love the history of sport and today’s generations would not have a clue (with a few exceptions!) of any sporting personality or event before their lifetime.
    PB – I agree this trio (Lindwall, Miller & Johnston). With Miller and Johnstons variety you could say we had five bowlers in three! Yes, the Windies had a ferocious attack but then again the batting opposition left a lot to be desired.
    PF – can’t tale ll the credit Peter. Editorial committee did most of the work. If you get the chance read “Beyond A Boundary” by CRL James.. This book gives a great incite as to the emergence of native West Indians as leaders on the cricket field

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic tribute CB. An incredible record. Would that have been the first time the West Indies had arrived in Australia with a bit of buzz around their arrival?

    What a pace bowling trio you saw for Australia. To add the PB’s suggestion McGrath, Gillespie and Lee could be considered too as a trio.

  6. citrus bob says

    Luke – what you had with R.R, K.R.and W.A. wa also their ability with the bat. Miller 7 test centuries, Lindwall 2 test centuries and W,A.Johnston a batting average of 102.00 in England.
    Well there was a buzz in Oz because they had just beaten England 3 -1 and that alone held them high in our esteem.
    Looking forward to the cricket from England on Wednesday night. Has Stokes gone from boiled lollies to chocolates? If he had had been an Australian no-way would have he got the captaincy. In fact it was this West Indies tour of Australia that saw a great Australian batman S.G.Barnes barred from the Test team for “minor” indiscrepancies forever. Bradman said he picked him?

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Spot on, there’s no way Stokes would even be considered as captain had he been an Australian.
    Really looking forward to Test cricket resuming on Wednesday night, two very good bowling teams with flaky batting lineups.

    W.A. Johnston was from a small town not far from me called Beeac. The Division 1 cricketer of the year in the Colac Cricket Association gets awarded the Bill Johnston medal.

  8. Great tribute, Citrus. Great memories.
    Thanks for this.

  9. Memory says Bill Johnston was a publican at Goolwa in SA near the Murray Mouth for years. Couldn’t really bat but accumulated a lot of not outs for only once out against county sides on the 1948 Tour. The players who didn’t like Bradman (Miller and the Catholics) conspired to protect him from the strike in later games so he would have a better tour average and annoy the “little fella”.

  10. citrus bob says

    Smokie – thanks to the unsung heroes _ JTH, Col et al who provided the “cover drives”
    PB – as usual you comments are straight down the middle with your nose sniffing the ball out. Not sure whether K.R.Miller suggested that but DG would not have been happy. Went to my book ‘The Datsun Book of Australian Test Cricket 1877 – 1981 for the 1948 Tour of England and guess what it was not there! Does this make the book invaluable? I am sure W.A.Johnston got a couple of not outs in the Tests. His son David was CEO of Cricket Tasmania for some time as well.

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