Caribbean cricket icon Sir Everton Weekes died at the age of 95.
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of an icon. A legend, our hero,” said Cricket West Indies (CWI) in a statement.
“Our condolences go out to her family, friends and many fans around the world.“
Sir Everton Weekes with the great Jim Laker of England in 1957. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Weekes, who made his debut in 1948 and retired in 1958, scored 4,455 points with 58.61 in 48 tests. He has the 10th highest average in the history of test cricket (minimum 20 innings) and is the only batsman to have gone centuries in five consecutive test innings.
The sequence has been extraordinary, starting with Weekes’ first ever home test against England. The Barbadian was briefly abandoned for the fourth and final test in Jamaica, only for George Headley to retire with injury; then he made 141, despite booing from local fans who didn’t think he should have been selected.
Those same locals presided over him on the field once his rounds were over. He then went on to score 128, 194, 162 and 101 in an Indian series, and was controversial for 90 in Chennai, scoring nearly a sixth straight century. The weeks made 15 centuries in all, with a high score of 207 (against India in Port of Spain, 1953).
Australian cricket icon Richie Benaud once said that, in style, he was the closest batsman he had ever seen to Sir Donald Bradman; indeed, Lady Jessie Bradman too. Like Sir Donald, Weekes kept the ball on the ground, hitting just two sixes in his powerful testing career.
Alongside Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, Weekes was one of the famous “Three Ws” of West Indian cricket. However, because of the time he played, his career was affected by racial controversy.
Weekes, despite his greatness as a cricketer and man, was never captain of the West Indies. Headley became the team’s first black captain for a test in 1947-48, but it wasn’t until Worrell in 1960 that the West Indies named their second non-white skipper; after Weekes’ career ended. Sir Everton endured injustice with typical good grace.
Weekes was knighted in 1995 and suffered a heart attack last year.
“A most incredible pioneer in West Indian cricket. A great man and a wonderful human being. He was literally the founding father of our cricket,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt.
A statement from the West Indies Players’ Association said: “We salute a great West Indies icon; Sir Everton made an invaluable contribution to the sport, to his country and to the region.
“We have been blessed to have him with us, may his soul rest in peace.“
The MCC said in a statement: “Everyone at MCC and Lord’s was saddened by the news of the death of Sir Everton Weekes.“
“He will always be remembered as one of the best cricketers in the Caribbean.“
Sir Everton was the third oldest living test cricketer, behind John Watkins of South Africa and Don Smith of England (both 97).