Sir Everton, Gibbs and Hendriks pay tribute to Valentine
May 14, 2004
ORLANDO, Florida, (CMC) - Tributes have continued to flow in memory of Alf Valentine, the former Jamaica and West Indies left-arm spin bowling legend.
Valentine died on Tuesday at his home here, since suffering a stroke that affected his speech and left him unable to walk unassisted, following recent back operation. He was 74.
Sir Everton Weekes with whom Valentine shared the success of the West
Indies’ first Test and series victory over England in 1950; Jackie Hendriks, who kept wicket to his bowling; and Lance Gibbs, who took over his role in the 1960s West Indies team have all praised the bespectacled man.
When Valentine made his final tour for West Indies to England in 1963, Gibbs had overtaken him in the pecking order.
“In winning or losing he kept the dressing room cheerful,” the great off-spin bowler said.
“I owe a lot to his vast experience and knowledge, and after Ramadhin was left out in Australia in 1960-61, his encouragement was helpful to my success"
Gibbs, who once held the world record for the most Test wickets of 309, added that Valentine was a very private person and very few knew that he was sick.
“As Wordsworth said of the Lives of Great Men, ‘in departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time’, that certainly applied to Alfred Lewis Valentine,” Gibbs said.
Sir Everton, one of the famous Three Ws, who along with Valentine and Ramadhin dominated England in that 1950 “coming of age” series, believes Valentine would have been among the world’s top wicket-takers in Tests had he been playing today.
“I suppose that with the amount of cricket that is played now if he were around he would have picked up quite a lot of wickets in a Test career that certainly would have included over a hundred Test matches,” Weekes told the Jamaica Observer.
“His action was a very legitimate one, as against some of the people who played then, and he was never called for no-balling. I thought he was a fantastic left-handed spin bowler.”
Hendriks, the former Jamaica and West Indies wicketkeeper, now president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, described Valentine as a masterful exponent of spin, flight and guile.
“We have always talked about pace bowling and so on, but Alf was a master of his craft,” he said.
“He could turn the ball on any surface and he had a beguiling flight.
I kept wicket to him on many occasions and I couldn’t tell you how much I enjoyed it, keeping wicket to Val.
“His strength was his excellent length, his flight and also his direction. He spun the ball appreciably. He also had that ball that came with the arm.
In 1950, the great Len Hutton was deceived by it and got bowled off-stump. He certainly was a masterful bowler.”
Valentine played 36 Tests in which he captured 139 wickets at 30.32 runs apiece.