Further Thoughts on 500 Tests, Basil Butcher & Sir Frank Worrell

20th December 2014

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

Reds dropped me an email this morning:

HI DAVID–500 TESTS PROGRAM ANY GOOD ?? REDS

This was my reply:

Good morning Reds

A Super show! Lively, knowledgable, informative, and fair!

Good to hear so many neglected figures recalled, like Christiani, Herman Griffith, and HBG Austin.

This was my Dad’s comments:

“Just finished listening to Reds Perreira and Tony Cozier. Wonderful stuff. Many thanks for flagging it up.”

In fact the only disappointment was that the time went by so fast.

There is actually an argument for you and Tony Cozier to sit together and record a 6-part series on the history of West Indies cricket – after all, when you two have gone who on Earth is going to properly give voice to the West Indies’ rich history? The written word is okay, but a vocal historical document of West Indies cricket history would put it all on record and stand the test of time for generations to come. It’s a project you could perhaps record together sometime when you are next here in Barbados, or he is in St Lucia?

I urge you and Tony to seriously consider doing such a thing – if only for your own records (and putting some records straight!) for the good of West Indies cricket, and in honour of all those greats – many of whom are long gone. Heaven knows, Worrell, Walcott, Constantine, Headley, Malcolm Marshall, Collie Smith, Jeff Stollmeyer etc deserve a proper oral memorial – and there has never been any two better placed or equipped to do such a thing. Please think about it!

Suggested hourly discussion programme themes:

1) The Formative Days of Windies Cricket – The HBG Austin Years: 1851-1923

2) Arrival on the World Stage – The Constantine & Headley Years: 1928-39

3) Those Little Pals of Mine – The 3Ws Years: 1947-63

4) Between Two Great Eras – The Sobers Years: 1964-74

5) World Champions – The Lloyd & Richards Years: 1975-91

6) Decline & Fall of the Caribbean Empire: 1992-to date

All the best

David

I later mentioned my idea for this oral history to my Dad in an email. He commented:

I think your idea for Reds and Tony Cozier to record their memories in the way you have suggested is brilliant.  Please keep me posted.

Well let’s hope the idea can somehow be turned into a reality.

The excellent 90-minute ‘500 WI Tests’ programme (which I urge you to listen to here if you haven’t already) featuring Reds and Tony also inspired the noted statistician, Roland Cox to drop me an email (with added goodies) when I forwarded him the link to the show:

Hi David

Many thanks for your email message.

I have already compiled all Records & Statistics (100 pages and more) relating to the West Indies 500 Test Matches (including opening up all 500 Test Match Scorecards and compiling a list of the 300 players who played for West Indies during that period). I am now getting ready to offer it for public consumption beginning with the WICB.

A copy of the list of 300 players (they are in the order of the batting order in the matches in which they made their debuts) is attached for your viewing.

Early in the New Year I will be speaking with two newspaper companies to get an idea of the cost of producing those statistics in booklet form.

Cheers!

Roland

You can find Roland’s authoritative statistical list of West Indies’ 300 Test cricketers here:

West Indies Test Cricketers During 500 Tests

Shortly afterwards my Dad was in touch again, moved to offer his own reminiscences of watching Basil Butcher and Frank Worrell at his 1st Test Match at Lord’s.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Having listened to the superb radio show with Reds Perreira and Tony Cozier, and particularly Reds Perreira talking about Basil Butcher and his century at Lord’s in 1963, my own memories came back.

The first time I ever went to a Test Match was in 1963 for the Saturday (3rd day) of the Lord’s Test against the West Indies. I went with a school friend whose father had organised the tickets for us and we sat high up in the old Tavern stand. England were batting in their first innings and thanks to a half century by Fred Titmus got to within 4 runs of the West Indies total of 301 before they were all out.

West Indies then batted again and Derek Shackleton and Fred Trueman reduced them to 104 for 5 and England were on top. At this point, Frank Worrell came to the wicket to join Basil Butcher and the pair put on over 100 runs for the 6th wicket and were undefeated at 214 for 5 at the close. Basil Butcher hit numerous fours and a couple of sixes but what I particularly remember was Sir Frank Worrell. He scored only 33 runs during the partnership but I had never seen such elegance before, particularly the way he late cut, a stroke that is forever etched in my memory.

I have been very fortunate to see so many memorable days of Test cricket over the years (such as England 46 all out at Queens Park Oval in 1994), the vast majority in your company but I will never forget that very first day.

Please feel free to forward this email to Reds Perreira if you think that it will be of interest to him.

Dad

Yes I will.

Michael Oram is my Dad and introduced me to cricket at Leyton in 1975; took me to my 1st Test at The Oval in 1978; and shared my sorrow at Lord’s in 1979 when we saw England succumb to the great West Indies team in the World Cup Final. You can read about him taking me to the 1980 Headingley Test v West Indies here.

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3 thoughts on “Further Thoughts on 500 Tests, Basil Butcher & Sir Frank Worrell

  1. africanherbsman1967

    It was a great discussion programme. Loved it. My dad saw the Windies Lords and Oval test matches between 1957 and 1973. I saw the Gatts broken nose at Sabina Park and the Carl Hooper century at Lords. One thing that is forgotten at times is how strong the island teams were in the 1970s. Especially the Barbadian team of the mid to late 1970s.

    Reply
  2. David Oram Post author

    So many great players, so many great moments, so many great matches. Such a shame that the future looks so bleak, after such a marvelous past. We must count ourselves lucky to have witnessed the that we did. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  3. David Oram Post author

    Roland Cox had a little further to say on stats he’d come across in researching the 500 Tests. This is the email he sent me:

    Hi David:

    While I was compiling the Records/Statistics of West Indies 500 Test matches, one set of statistics of a debutant fascinated me so much that I felt obliged to share it with you.

    Alf Valentine made his Test debut against England at Old Trafford, Manchester on June 8, 1950 at the age of 20. He ended that match with at least five West Indies Records.

    1. England batted first and Valentine set a record by uniquely capturing the first eight wickets to fall and finished with the impressive figures of 50-14-104-8.
    2. This was and still is the Best Bowling Figures by a West Indian Player in an innings on debut.
    3. In England’s second innings, he had figures of 50-22-100-3 to finish with match figures of 100-36-204-11, which was and still is the Best Bowling Figures by a West Indian Player in a match on debut.
    4. He is the Youngest West Indian Player to take a five-wicket haul in an innings.
    5. He is the Youngest West Indian Player to take a ten-wicket haul in a match.
    6. He failed to score in either innings, thus being the only West Indian Player to back a pair on debut.
    What a way to begin one’s Test Career?…..

    Roland Cox

    Reply

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