“In a society, where racism ruled the roost and decided the fate, men like Sir Everton Weekes, defied all the odds to rise to the top and gift the deprived community the respect and joy, which worked like a tonic for them. Sir Everton Weekes will always be remembered with enough respect” 

He was born in a wooden shack on Pickwick Gap in Westbury, Saint Michael, Barbados, near Kensington Oval on February 26, 1925. He was named by his father after the English football team Everton. He was unaware of the source of DeCourcy, his middle name, although he believed there was a French influence in his family.

Everton DeCourcy Weekes aka Sir Everton Weekes would experience hardship in his childhood. His father was forced to leave his family to work in the Trinidad oilfields when Weekes was eight. He did not return to Barbados for eleven years.

In the absence of his father, Weekes and his sister were raised by his mother Lenore, and an aunt, whom Weekes credits with his successful upbringing.

Weekes attended St Leonard’s Boys’ School, where he later bragged that he never passed an exam (although he would later successfully study Hotel Management) and preferred to concentrate on the sport. In addition to cricket, Weekes was also a keen football player, representing Barbados.

As a boy Weekes assisted the groundsmen at Kensington Oval and often acted as a substitute fielder in exchange for free entry to the cricket, giving himself the opportunity to watch leading international cricketers at close range. At age 13 Weekes began playing for Westshire Cricket Club in the Barbados Cricket League (BCL).

He would have preferred to have played for his local club, Pickwick, but the club only catered to white players.

Embed from Getty Images

Weekes left school in 1939, aged 14, and, not having a job, spent his days playing cricket and football. He later attributed much of his cricketing success to this time spent practicing.

In 1943 Weekes enlisted in the Barbados Regiment and served as a Lance-Corporal until his discharge in 1947 and while he never saw active service, the fact he was in the military meant he was eligible to play cricket for Garrison Sports Club in the higher standard Barbados Cricket Association in addition to Westshire in the BCL.

Weekes’s performances in Barbados club cricket led to his selection in a 1945 trial match to select the first-class side to represent Barbados on a Goodwill tour of Trinidad and Tobago. Weekes scored 88 and 117 retired and was selected for the tour, making his first-class debut on 24 February 1945, aged 19 years, 364 days, for Barbados against Trinidad and Tobago at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain. Batting at number six, he scored 0 and eight as Barbados lost by ten wickets.

Weekes scored his maiden first-class half-century in his next match, making 53 as an opener against Trinidad in March 1945, where he also bowled for the first time in a first-class match, conceding 15 runs in four wicketless overs.

In his first two first-class seasons Weekes was not satisfactory with the bat – averaging 16.62 by the end of the 1945-46 season. but began to find form in 1946-47, when, batting at number four, his maiden first-class century, 126 against British Guiana at Bourda, Georgetown, and averaged 67.57 for the season.

Embed from Getty Images

The 1947-48 season included a tour by MCC and Weekes impressed West Indian selectors with an unbeaten 118 against the tourists prior to the first Test in Bridgetown.

The illustrious journey of one of the best batsmen in the history of Test cricket and West Indies had begun.

Weekes made his Test debut for the West Indies against England at Kensington Oval on 21 January 1948, aged 22 years and 329 days. He was one of 12 debutants; seven from the West Indies – Clyde Walcott, Robert Christiani, Wilfred Ferguson, Berkeley Gaskin, John Goddard, and Prior Jones – and five for England – Jim Laker, Maurice Tremlett, Dennis Brookes, Winston Place, and Gerald Smithson.

Batting at number three, Weekes made 35 and 25 as the match ended in a draw. In the next two Tests, he was not even near remarkable and was dropped in the fourth Test before Geroge Headley’s injury forced his return. He scored his maiden Test ton and was eventually selected for the tour to subcontinent – India, Pakistan, and Ceylon.

Embed from Getty Images

The legend of Sir Everton Weekes started on the soil of India – In his next Test, the First against India, at Delhi, in November 1948, the first by a West Indian in India,  Weekes scored 128, followed by 194 in the Second Test in Bombay and 162 and 101 in the Third Test in Calcutta. Weekes then made 90 in the Fourth Test in Madras, being controversially run out and 56 and 48 in the Fifth Test at Bombay.

The five-Test centuries in consecutive innings by Weekes is a Test record, passing the record previously held by Jack Fingleton and Alan Melville as was his achievement of seven Test half-centuries in consecutive innings, passing the record previously jointly held by Jack Ryder, Patsy Hendren, George Headley, and Melville.

Andy Flower and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have since equaled Weekes’ record of seven half-centuries.

In the eventful tour to England in 1950, Weekes was on fire.

Embed from Getty Images

He smashed 338 runs at 56.33 and playing a significant part in the West Indies 3–1 victory in the Test series, as well as 2310 first-class runs at 79.65, including five double centuries, a record for a West Indian tour of England!

By the end of the series, Weekes had scored 1,410 Test runs at 74.21 and had enhanced his reputation as one of the finest slip fielders in world cricket, taking 11 catches in the series. Additionally, his 304 not out against the University of Cambridge remains the only triple century by a West Indian on tour in England.

In recognition of his performance, Weekes was named a 1951 Wisden Cricketer of the Year!

It was the era of the three Ws. Sir Frank Worrell was already a revolution in the Caribbean and in 1948, Weekess and Walcott joined him to form the famous 3 Ws in Test cricket, who outweighed the opposition with brute force, style, and intelligence.

Embed from Getty Images

Among the 3 Ws, Walcott was a destroyer, while Worrel’s leadership qualities more often overshadowed his brilliance with the bat. But in the case of Weekes, his batsmanship was all about pure artistry. On both sides of the wicket, he could accelerate, and when on song, one could watch his batting whole day. The specialty of his batting was about using the wrist – as if silk was wrapped in those wrists.

Embed from Getty Images

As soon as the ball meets the middle of the bat, the wrists would move smoothly as the water flowing in the valleys to send the ball to the boundary. He was bow-legged and the feet movement had not been maximum, but the hand-eye-coordination was so good, the movement of the feet became irrelevant.

But, it was not that he did not use his feet when it was needed – in India, on dusty wickets, he used those to dance down the wicket against slower bowlers. For him, it might have been a waste of time to work on the turn and then get going, Rather he was fond of disturbing the length of the spinners.

Again, he was an excellent fielder and produced a training manual entitled Aspects of Fielding.

Weekes flair and dominance with the bat created a long-lasting impact in West Indies Cricket.

Embed from Getty Images

For more than four decades or so, one could witness the silky-style of West Indian batting amid the mayhem they used to create on the cricket field.

Weekes had a Test batting average of nearly 97.92 in innings immediately after those in which he scored a hundred, the second-highest after Vijay Hazare for those who had scored five Test centuries. His career Test batting average of 58.61 is the eighth highest of all players with 30 or more innings.

While batting first Weekes averages 71.44 compared with 36.64 in the second, and only one of his fifteen tons came in the second innings – surely one expected more from such a dynamic batter in the second outing.

Embed from Getty Images

Weekes, after retirement, received a range of distinctions, including being made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Barbados Gold Crown of Merit (GCM) and in 1995 Weekes was made a Knight of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his services to cricket. The former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur paid tribute to Weekes for his role in bringing social change to Barbados and the Caribbean, stating, “Through his excellence on the cricket field, Sir Everton helped in a fundamental way to change Barbados for the better, forever, by proving that true excellence cannot be constrained by social barriers”.

In addition to the 3Ws Oval, Weekes has been honoured throughout Barbados, including having a roundabout in Warrens, St. Michael named after him. In January 2009 Weekes was one of 55 players inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame and will choose new inductees to the Hall of Fame.

He rose from a society, which was horribly crippled by racism.

During the Test series against Australia in 1954-55, where Aussies had a magnificent four-pronged pace attack with Keith Miller, Ray Lindwall, Bill Johnston, and Ron Archer, who had to deal with Worrell, Weekes, Walcott and a young Sir Garfield Sobers. In that five-Test series, the four West Indian batters amassed 1733 runs between them, including six centuries. Still, Australia discovered the toxicity of racism in the Caribbean and was embarrassed to find that Weekes, Worrell, and Walcott had not been invited to a cocktail party at the home of a white West Indian player!

But, Weekes never gave up and continued to carry on the flag of those deprived black community in West Indies, who needed the boost to uplift their status.

Cricket did that for them and Weekes was one of those warriors, whose bat roared against social discrimination.

It is up to the young generation of West Indies players to carry on the legacy of great men like Weekes, who gave West Indies respect and joy.

Rest in Peace!

Facebook Comments