Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sir Frank Worrell is born - the man who united West Indian cricket
August 1, 1924 - This is the answer to a popular cricket quiz question: Sir Frank Worrell is the first Black captain of West Indies to be appointed for a full series. George Headley had earlier captained the team in one test.
Sit Frank Worrell though stands for a lot more than just this piece of trivia. When he first took over captaincy, Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Guyanans and Bajans had cliques inside the West Indies team. Worrell broke this divide and taught the players to front up as one - to swim together, or sink together; but do anything and everything with a sense of unity.
Worrell is 1/3 of the famous 3Ws. Interestingly, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes and Sir Clyde Walcott were all born within one mile and 18 months of each other. In fact, they were delivered by the same midwife. There won't be any trinity in cricket to do so much damage in the same era.
The respect that Worrell commanded was on display on the West Indies tour of Australia in 1960-61. The team under Worrell's leadership won the hearts of the locals through the way in which they carried themselves. The team made it a point to play in the spirit of the game.
Worrell ensured that none of his team members argued with the umpire and showed utmost respect to their opponents. It is well documented that thousands of Australians accompanied the West Indian team in Melbourne during their trip from the team hotel to the reception which was hosted by the Mayor of Melbourne.
In what was a hard-fought series, Australia managed to win the last test by 2 wickets to capture the series 2-1, but West Indies ended up winning a lot more hearts. It was a great note to end the tour when Sir Frank Worrell cleaned the trophy with the sleeve of his blazer before handing it over to Australian captain Richie Benaud. The series subsequently was titled the Frank Worrell trophy.
Sir Learie Constantine wrote of Worrell in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack: "Frank Maglinne Worrell was the first hero of the new nation of Barbados and anyone who doubted that had only to be in the island when his body was brought home in mid-March of 1967.
"Or in Westminster Abbey when West Indians of all backgrounds and shades of opinion paid their last respects to a man who had done more than any other of their countrymen to bind together the new nations of the Caribbean and establish a reputation for fair play throughout the world. Never before had a cricketer been honoured with a memorial service in Westminster Abbey."
With West Indies having produced the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Gordon Greenidge, Sir Garry Sobers and several others, Worrell may not be the best batsman to have come out of the Caribbean. But with 3,860 runs from 51 test matches at a brilliant average of 49.24, he was certainly one of the best.
Worrell struck 9 centuries and 22 half-centuries in his career with the best of 261 and played his last test against England at The Oval in August 1963. By that time, he had groomed Sobers to take over.
Another of his great qualities was that Worrell never shied away from answering the tough questions and was extremely straight forward with his replies. It was a great loss to cricket and society at large when Worrell succumbed to leukaemia in 1967, aged just 42.
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