Former players hail Sir Everton as batting geniusThursday, July 02, 2020
BY SANJAY MYERS
LEGENDARY West Indies cricketer Sir Everton Weekes is remembered by former players not only for his batting genius but also his work ethic and witty persona.
Weekes, who died yesterday in his native Barbados at age 95, scored 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61 in 48 Tests between 1948 and 1958. He is the only man to make centuries in five-consecutive Test innings. Weekes ended his career with 15 hundreds and 19 half-centuries.
He was one of the celebrated “Three Ws” alongside his contemporaries and fellow greats Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell.
“They [players of that era] showed us the way to play cricket through concentration, applying yourself to the task, and being professional on and off the field, and Everton Weekes portrayed those so well,” iconic former West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd, 75, told the Jamaica Observer from his home in England yesterday.
Lloyd, a Guyanese who played 110 Test matches for West Indies, captained the team to glory at the first two limited-overs World Cups — in 1975 and 1979.
“I remember when I was injured in Australia and I was in hospital and [Australian batting legend] Sir Donald Bradman visited me and he said that Sir Everton was the best of the Three Ws. His record does prove that he was a tremendous cricketer and a gentleman and a true great. We tend to devalue greatness, but he was truly great,” Lloyd said.
“We were very close and I have the greatest respect for him and I will miss him. He [Weekes] did a lot for me in the sense that we discussed a lot of cricket and he's somebody that I admired tremendously,” the former West Indies skipper added.
Weekes, who received a knighthood in 1995, was the third oldest surviving men's Test cricketer, after South Africa's John Watkins and England's Don Smith, both of whom are 97.
Former Jamaica Captain Easton McMorris, who made his Test debut in 1958 against touring Pakistan when Weekes was playing his last series for West Indies, told the Observer that the Barbadian was among the finest to pick up a bat.
McMorris, 85, places Weekes among his list of top five West Indies Test batsmen after George Headley, Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara, and Vivian Richards.
“That's how much I think of him,” he said.
“Sir Everton was a fine human being, he was an excellent player and he had a sense of humour that was at the top. He was both elegant and supremely aggressive when he wanted to be; he was a lovely player,” he explained, noting that he played against Weekes in Jamaica versus Barbados contests in the '60s.
“It was always good to have conversation with him about cricket and things associated with the game. He always had his own perspective on it, which would be accompanied by some humour,” McMorris added.
Former Jamaica and West Indies wicketkeeper Jackie Hendriks rates Weekes among the best two batsmen he has ever seen.
“In my book, for those that I have seen, Everton was the number two man after Sobers as far as batting was concerned,” Hendriks, 86, said.
“I remember him coming out in 1948 when we played England and he made the first of his five consecutive centuries at Sabina Park — 141 — then he went to India and made four others,” he said.
It is said that during that match at Sabina Park, the partisan Kingston crowd wanted hometown hero JK Holt to play instead of Weekes, and booed him throughout the England innings. He responded with the first of his five consecutive hundreds and was only denied a sixth when he was controversially given run out on 90.
Hendriks said Weekes was an orthodox batsman who was competent against pace and spin bowling.
“Everton was very correct and he thrived on any type of bowling you want to put in front of him. He was particularly fierce when he was batting — to anything short outside the off stump he had a tremendous square cut, but generally he was an all-round player,” he recounted.
Hendriks started playing for West Indies in 1962, years after Weekes left the Test scene, but he has memories of them crossing swords in regional first class cricket.
“I remember saying to him [Weekes] some years ago if he remembered the innings he played against Jamaica in Barbados in about 1962 or 63. He said 'all I can remember is somebody behind me saying great shot, Everton.”
Yesterday, a nostalgic Hendriks, who was keeping wicket during Weekes's knock, told the Observer: “That was me!”
The former West Indies wicketkeeper said Weekes's impact on regional cricket has been immense.
“He was a very good friend, he was very interested in the cricket and the cricketers and a man with a great sense of humour. He was certainly a great favourite of mine and somebody who has done a lot for West Indies cricket.
“He was a man who kept himself very fit — I think Everton must have gone running on the beach every morning. I had the pleasure of serving with him on the West Indies board's cricket committee for quite a few years and it was a great experience,” Hendriks said.
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