If cricket in the West Indies was ever united, it was thanks to Frank Worrell’s captaincy. He only led the Test team in three series, taking in tours of Australia and England, and a visit to the Caribbean by India. But his appointment in 1960 was the culmination of a long campaign on the part of others to see a black man officially appointed captain of the West Indies team.
Frank Worrell’s own work in the cause of social equality. Having been born and raised in Barbados before relocating to Trinidad and Jamaica. He had little time for inter-island rivalry and pettiness. Partly through his own considerable ability as an all-round player, as well as his charismatic leadership.
Worrell left West Indies the strongest team in the world and created something of a blueprint for Clive Lloyd when he returned West Indies to the summit of the game some 15 years later. It says something about Worrell that although his team lost in Australia in 1960–61.
He and his players were feted through the streets of Melbourne when they left, and in time when Australia and West Indies met, they competed for the Frank Worrell Trophy. Worrell’s side was also saluted for their style and class in England in 1963 (when they won 3–1) and he was given a knighthood the following year.
A distinguished career in politics might have followed – he was appointed senator in the Jamaica parliament – but tragically he died of leukemia at the age of just 42. Given the pressure, he was under to prove himself, especially as the West Indies had suffered a string of defeats to England and Australia in the years beforehand.
Worrell did not seek popularity when the captaincy came to him at the age of 35, but that was certainly what he achieved. As a batsman, he was both courageous and cultured. He was certainly the most technically correct and stylish of the ‘three Ws’ even if his figures were not as impressive as those of Everton Weekes or Clyde Walcott.
He scored 3,860 runs at an average of 49.48 in his 51 Test matches with nine hundred, but he missed some good years when he might have scored heavily. Frank Worrell appeared in only one Test series between 1955 and 1960, in part because he took an economics degree at Manchester University.
In the one series, he did play during that period, in England in 1957. Where he turned his hand to the opening at Trent Bridge and carried his bat for 191, an effort that went a long way towards saving the game. In the following match at Headingly he showed his talent as a left-arm swing bowler by taking 7n for 70 (he took 69 Test wickets in all).
Playing his first Test for three years at Barbados in 1960, he batted through two days with Garry Sobers, and for almost 11½ hours in all, for 197 against Peter May’s England side. His batting probably suffered from the demands of leadership. Although he averaged 40 as captain and played some important innings.
He did not convert any of his ten 50s into hundreds. Worrell was first chosen for Barbados for his spin bowling. It was during the war and he was just 17 years old. It was not long before his batting talent manifested itself though and in spectacular fashion.
Worrell was still only 19 when he scored an unbeaten triple century against Trinidad, in the process sharing in a stand of 502 with John Goddard. Two years later he and Walcott gave Trinidad’s bowlers further punishment, putting on a then-world record 574 together, Worrell’s share being 255.
He dismissed both feats as unimportant, but they reflected his potential. A great potential that was swiftly realized when he played his first Test matches against a touring England’s side in 1948. Where it was not a full-strength England attack but contained a young Jim Laker. Worrell scored 97 in his first game and an unbeaten 131 in his second.
He then joined Radcliffe in the Central Lancashire League, a move that he said transformed his game. Worrell scored heavily as a member of a Commonwealth XI that toured India, Pakistan, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka as it then was) in 1949–50 and 1950–51.
He was occasional captain, he learned something about bringing together men of different backgrounds. If his last tours of Australia and England showed the best of Worrell as a leader. His first tours of those places saw him at his best as a player. Since 1960-61 the test series between West Indies and Australia named to Sir Frank Worrell Trophy.
The West Indian team of 1950 that won in England for the first time was one of the most glamorous of all visiting sides. There, Weekes, Worrell and Walcott, and those little pals Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. England’s landslide victory in the first Test – Worrell stumped twice batting at number 3 – proved a mirage. It was a pure triumph for him, scored 539 runs with a healthy average of 89.83.
West Indies steamrollered them in three subsequent matches and Worrell was to the fore with 261 at Trent Bridge (the highest Test innings for a West Indian in England. After that Viv Richards’s 291 in 1976 surpassed this feat and 138 at The Oval.
That series prompted the hope that West Indies might also push Australia hard at home in 1951–52 but they were unable to withstand the overt hostility of Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller. There was however no cowing Worrell, who batted bravely and unflappably for 108 and 30 at Melbourne after a blow from Miller left him batting virtually one-handed.
It was not quite enough to prevent Australia winning by one wicket. Worrell’s bowling was a major factor in the one match West Indies did win in Adelaide, where on a damp pitch he took six for 38 bowling unchanged as Australia were dismissed for 82.
Worrell’s death was marked by a memorial service in Westminster Abbey, the only cricketer to be accorded such treatment. Learie Constantine described him as ‘a happy man, a good man, and a great man’. Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell born on August 1, 1924, and he died on March 13, 1967, 42 years 224 days at Mona Kingston, Jamaica.
He was a great leader, a happy man, and a consistent performer for West Indies cricket. In 2009, he was included in the list of ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. Frank Worrell was the first man to be included in two 500 plus partnership in first-class cricket, the other is all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
He won the hearts of West Indies spectators, had many friends, no enemies, earned dignity and respect. He played 51 Test Matches for West Indies, scored 3,860 at an average of 49.48 with the best of 261, including 9 hundred, 22 fifties, and 43 catches. As a slow arm medium-fast bowler and left-arm slow, he took 69 wickets at 38.72 with the best of 7 for 70, two times five-wicket haul.
Moreover, his first-class career span was 1941-42 till 1963-64. During two decades, he scored 15,025 runs in 208 matches, with the best of 308* including 39 hundred, 80 fifties, and 139 catches. In the bowling department, he took 349 wickets at 28.98 with the best of 7 for 70, including 13 times five wickets haul.