The contribution of Barbados to West Indies and world cricket was emphasised on Thursday as six giants of the game from the island were inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame at the Kensington Oval.
Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Frank Worrell, Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall were all honoured at a special ceremony during the tea interval on the first day of the 4th Digicel Test between the West Indies and England.
Commemorative caps were presented to the players, family members and representatives by West Indies Cricket Board President (WICB) and International Cricket Council (ICC) director Dr Julian Hunte in front of a large and appreciative crowd.
Remarkably the six players represent just over 10 per cent of the total initial intake of 55 players into the Hall of Fame*, a joint venture between the ICC and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), and almost half of the 13 West Indians that feature in the list.
In a top-level career spanning 20 years, Sir Garfield Sobers was the first batsman to reach 8,000 Test runs (he finished with 8,032 at an average of 57.78), took 235 wickets at the highest level with a mix of pace, swing and finger and wrist spin and pouched 109 catches.
His 365 not out against Pakistan in Kingston, Jamaica in 1958 remained the highest individual Test innings for 36 years and he is regarded by most observers as the best all-rounder to have played the game.
Reflecting on joining the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, Sir Garfield said: “I totally enjoyed my playing days and I am thrilled to be honoured here today in my home country. This is a magnificent gesture and I want to thank all those who made it possible. Today is a very good day and I am truly grateful.”
It was a day of double celebrations for Sir Everton Weekes as the induction ceremony coincided with his 84th birthday. Sir Everton was one of the three Ws, the devastating Barbados and West Indies batting trio that was completed by fellow Hall of Fame inductees Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, and he scored 15 Test hundreds in only 48 matches.
Only George Headley (60.83) – another ICC Hall of Fame member – among West Indies batsmen to have played 20 Test innings has a better batting average than Sir Everton’s 58.61.
Sir Everton said: “I had many great moments playing here at Kensington Oval and I am delighted to be honoured by the ICC at this famous ground. On behalf of all the players from Barbados and the West Indies and indeed all the players from all over the world, I want to say what a pleasure it is to receive this cap.”
Gordon Greenidge had a reputation as one of the most destructive opening batsmen in the history of the game. His stock-in-trade was his brutal square-cutting and in a 17-year career at the top level he amassed 7558 Test runs as well as another 5134 runs in ODIs. He was a part of the West Indies side that won the first two ICC Cricket World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
Commenting on his induction into the Hall of Fame, Gordon Greenidge said: “I am very happy to be recognised in this way. I worked hard and enjoyed my time on the cricket field and I am happy to be standing here alongside players such as Sir Everton Weekes and Sir Garfield Sobers and receiving this award.”
With Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Frank Worrell and Malcolm Marshall all deceased, they were represented by friends and family at the ceremony.
Sir Clyde, a brutal right-hand batsman who spent part of his career as a wicketkeeper was, like Greenidge, a powerful hitter of a cricket ball, and, like Everton Weekes, he had a remarkable record with 15 Test hundreds and 14 fifties from only 44 matches. He scored just one duck in 74 Test innings as he amassed 3798 runs at an average of 56.68. After he finished playing he served the game with distinction as an administrator as President of the WICB and Chairman of the ICC. He passed away in 2006, aged 80.
Accepting the cap on behalf of Sir Clyde was Lady Muriel Walcott and she said: “Clyde received many awards for his service to cricket but I believe this will rank among the best as it is coming from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the International Cricket Council (ICC). He was President of the WICB and Chairman of the ICC and I know he would be exceptionally pleased that they have honoured him in this way.”
Malcolm Marshall was, without doubt, one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He took 376 wickets in 81 Tests and, like Greenidge, performed with distinction in English county cricket for Hampshire, as well as in South Africa for Natal.
He finished with a remarkable 1651 first-class wickets, a further 157 wickets in ODIs, and was a more than capable batsman too, making 1810 Test runs and a total of 11,004 in the first-class arena.
Only six bowlers who have played 20 Tests or more can better Marshall’s career strike rate of a wicket every 46.7 deliveries in the longest form of the game. He died of cancer in 1999, at the age of 41. Receiving the commemorative cap on behalf of his father, Mali Marshall said: “My father would really enjoy this. It is a beautiful cap and a very good reward for his outstanding career. My greatest cricket memory of dad is the 7-22 he took against England (at Old Trafford in 1988). I will hand over the cap to my mother and I am sure it will be placed in a very prominent place in our home.”
Sir Frank Worrell was the first black captain of the West Indies, leading the side in 15 Tests between 1960 and 1963. He is credited with binding a side of great talent into a united and winning line-up. As a batsman Sir Frank scored 3860 runs at 49.48 in 51 Tests. He died of leukemia in 1967, aged 42, and his commemorative cap was accepted by Joel Garner, the former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler and current President of the Barbados Cricket Association.
The cap presentation ceremony is a key part of the celebrations to mark the ICC’s centenary year as it acknowledges the greats of the game and the contributions they have made to ensure cricket is a great sport with a great spirit.
Other ICC Cricket Hall of Famers to have received their caps so far in 2009 are ex-Australia wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh, the West Indies trio of former captain Sir Vivian Richards and fast bowlers Michael Holding and Andy Roberts and former South Africa batsmen Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock.
Further cap presentations will be made during the course of the Digicel Series 2009 and throughout the year and a limited number of inductees, in addition to the 55 already chosen, will be named during 2009.
ICC Cricket Hall of Fame – initial inductees (55):