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Cricket, national sport of Barbados, has been known to inspire almost religious levels of devotion in Bajan sports fans. The high standard of local cricket is truly astonishing for such a small island. Bajans have consistently performed well on the international stage, giving the West Indies team many of its greatest players. But it isn’t only at an international level that Barbados cricket excels; good cricket is played at every level from school onwards. With an astonishing 160 cricket clubs on an island of just 166 square miles, it’s no wonder that many young Bajans grow up wanting to be cricketers. Here are ten things you should know about Barbados’ top cricketers.
Sir Garfield Sobers earned the nickname ‘King Cricket’ in 1966 for his outstanding performance against England. Sobers was selected as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century in 2000. He first played for Barbados at just 16 years old in 1953, and made his test debut a year later against England. Sobers set a world record of 365 not out in a test against Pakistan and is the youngest to score a triple century at just 21.
Walcott, another of the great trinity of Barbadian cricketers known as the three W’s was appointed chair of the ICC in 1993 – the first non-Briton to achieve the post. Walcott has the more dubious honour of having captained another team to defeat Barbados, when in 1963 he lead British Guiana, where he was then living, to victory. Walcott, playing for Barbados, was the other half, with Worrel, of the first pair to achieve a first-class 500 run partnership.
In 1948-49, at just 23 years old, Weekes scored 779 runs in his first tour with the West Indies. Playing in India, the young batsman achieved five consecutive 100’s, setting a world record. Weekes, along with Worrell and Walcott dominated West Indian cricket during the 1940s and 1950s until injury forced him into early retirement. Weekes was knighted for services to cricket in 1995.
Born in 1959, Stephenson was named Wisden cricketer of the year in 1989. He achieved a very rare all-round double while playing for Nottingham CC – scoring more than a 1000 runs and taking more than 100 wickets. Stephenson, who now runs a cricket academy in Barbados, was part of the West Indies rebel team that toured apartheid South Africa in 1982-83 resulting in a ban from playing for the official WI team.
Born in 1924 within 18 months and one mile of the other two great Bajan W’s, Weekes and Walcott, Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell was the first black man to captain the West Indies for a full series. Worrell was half of the first pair to ever score two first-class 500 run partnerships, and was the youngest too. The Frank Worrell Trophy is awarded to the winner of the West Indies v Australia Test in honour of Sir Frank who captained the team in the 1960-1 test.
Hall has been an MP, a Senator, a Cabinet Minister and is an ordained Pastor. He made his test debut against India and Pakistan in 1958-59 during which he achieved the hat-trick (taking three wickets on consecutive deliveries). The test hat-trick has only been managed 42 times in over 2000 test matches. Hall was a fearsome fast bowler and played in 48 tests for the West Indies.
In 1959, in a masterful display of fast bowling prowess, Griffith dismissed three England internationals during his first-class debut at the home of cricket – Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Griffith made a name for himself as a difficult bowler, delivering painful foot crunching yorkers and high bouncers. On one occasion he accidentally almost killed Indian batsman Nari Contractor when a bouncer fractured the Indian player’s skull.
Along with Desmond Haynes, Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge MBE formed one of the most devastating opening batting partnerships ever seen. The two made 6,482 runs batting together, setting the record. Greenidge scored 19 centuries over 108 Tests, and 11 centuries during 128 one day internationals. Greenidge is an honorary citizen of Bangladesh after coaching their national team to their first world cup final in 1999.
Haynes, the other half of the legendary batting pair with Greenidge, set two records during his One Day International (ODI) debut. Scoring 148 against Australia, he achieved the highest score for an ODI debutant, along with the record for the fastest century. Haynes was also one of only two players to have ever scored a century during their first and last ever ODI matches.
One of the most effective bowlers of all time, Garner is 6’8” tall and had a devastating impact on opposing batsmen. He managed to take 146 wickets in just 98 limited overs matches. In the 1979 world cup final against England Garner set a record by taking 5 wickets for just 39 runs. Until 2010, Garner was the joint tallest player ever in international cricket.