I added “on Frank Worrell” and will end with Frank Worrell. My young men have done the research. But this, I promise you, will be my last piece on captaincy for the year. Next week, I’ll start responding critically to ACROSS THE BOARD articles, to show our leaders where they are still hell-bent on going wrong - Wes Hall or no Wes Hall, Viv Richards or no Viv Richards, Singulara or no Singulara. Prayers wouldn’t help either.
But going back and facing up to our history will. Frank Worrell doubtless was the greatest captain we’ve ever had, though equally he was the most conceited.
But then again you will agree, when you hear me out, if there is a man who has a right to be conceited about his cricket, it’s Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell. Before we go further, though, here is a follow up from last week: There are 42 Laws in cricket; Shivnarine Chanderpaul was born on August 18, 1974 at Unity, East Coast Demerara, in Guyana and Ridley Detamore Jacobs, on November 26, 1967 in Antigua. It will always be in my view to Courtney Walsh’s discredit that, in that fifth and final match of the series, Chanderpaul was not given the chance to make a Test 100. Walsh declared the West Indies innings closed in a game that was doomed to draw since the pitch was still playing so easily.
The West Indies captain declared at 593 for 5 with Chanderpaul 75 not out. England replied 593 all out. Inexperience? It was Walsh’s first venture as Test skipper. Before Worrell came, there had always been a certain proportional representation among us in the Caribbean where captaincy was concerned. The most obvious example was in 1931, when England, under Fred Calthorpe visited us.
The record books state, incredibly, that we had a captain for each of the four Tests played:
1st Test in Barbados - Teddy Hoad
2nd Test in Trinidad - Nelson Betancourt
3rd Test in Guyana - Maurius Fernandes
4th Test in Jamaica - Karl Nunes
This was at home. It would have been unheard of to choose a non-white as captain abroad. Frank Worrell’s selection changed all that. True, he lost in Australia, but he showed conclusively that, if Roy Gilchrist had been in his side, the score would have been not 1-2, but at least 3-1 in his favour.
Even Garry Sobers, in his autobiography, claimed even then that the series should have been drawn 2-2. That he had caught out Kline, but the umpire said not out in a match with the last Australian pair at the wicket. Here is Sobers:
“We thought the game was all over and won when, with Frank Worrell bowling to Kline, I stole in and took a catch almost off the bat face.
Many watchers thought we had won the game and some who saw it on television switched off thinking the game was over.
They could not believe it when they switched back on and saw that the match was still going on. We ignored it and got on with what we had to do. We did not know that Kline and Mackay would bat for more than 90 minutes.”
To show their esteem, Chairman of the ACBC, Sir Donald Bradman, announced, at the end of that series, the award of a trophy for the first time between the two competing territories. It was called the Frank Worrell Trophy.