Tony Becca: A salute to the cricketing Sirs
Dave Cameron and Wavell Hinds, presidents of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), respectively, deserve a rousing round of applause for remembering West Indies stars, players who served West Indies cricket brilliantly over the years.
Tomorrow night, at the annual awards function of the WICB and WIPA at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, the red carpet will be rolled out and among those who will have the privilege to walk on it will be not only the outstanding performers of the preceding years, but also Renford Pinnock, probably the best player, along with Ralston Otto, who never played for the West Indies.
The pair of Jamaicans, however, has done more than that.
As Pat Rousseau did in 1996 when, as president of the WICB, he invited every West Indies cricketer and their wives from wherever they were in the world to Jamaica to a beautiful gathering at the Pegasus hotel as a way of saying thanks to them for their contribution to West Indies cricket, Cameron and Hinds will be saying "thank you" to seven of the great ones.
The magnificent seven, so to speak, are being toasted as the seven living West Indies cricketers who have been knighted for their services to West Indies cricket and for their glittering accomplishments while doing so.
The seven former players are Wes Hall, Everton Weekes, Gary Sobers, Andy Roberts, Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose, and they all, without a doubt, achieved some wonderful, glorious and great deeds.
Weekes, 48 Test matches, 4,455 runs with 15 centuries and a top score of 207 versus England 1954, an average of 58.68 and five successive centuries - 141 against England at Sabina Park in 1948, 128 in Delhi, 194 in Mumbai, 165 and 101 in Kolkata against India in 1948-49, plus two centuries, 165 and 101, in one match.
Sobers, 93 matches, 8,032 runs with 26 centuries and a top score of 365 not out versus Pakistan in 1958, an average of 57.78, two centuries in one match, 125 and 109 not out versus Pakistan in 1958, plus the one-time world record individual score of 365 not out in 1958.
Sobers, the skilled three-in-one bowler, also took 235 wickets at an average of 34.63.
Hall, 48 matches, 192 wickets, average 26.38 and best returns of seven for 69 versus England at Sabina Park in 1960 and 11 for 126 versus India at Kanpur in 1958.
Roberts, 47 matches, 202 wickets, average 25.61 and best returns of seven for 54 versus Australia at Perth in 1975 and 12 for 128 versus India at Madras 1974.
Richards, 121 matches, 8,540 runs with 24 centuries and a top score of 291 versus England at The Oval in 1976 and an average of 50.25.
Richardson, 86 matches, 5,949 runs with 16 centuries and a top score of 194 versus New Zealand at Bourda in 1985; and Ambrose, 98 matches, 405 wickets, average 20.99 and best of eight for 45 versus England at Kensington Oval in 1990 and 11 for 80 versus England at Port-of-Spain in 1994.
The best of Ambrose also included seven for 25 off 18 overs against Australia at Perth in 1993, and that also included a memorable and unforgettable spell of seven wickets for one run in 30 deliveries.
the dearly departed
As the West Indies fans cheer some of their heroes of the past tomorrow night, as they recall the glorious strokes and the brilliant deliveries with which they thrilled the world, they should also remember those knights who have gone ahead - greats such as Learie Constantine (mainly for his services as lawyer, politician and diplomatic), Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott and Conrad Hunte.
And in saluting those 11 great men, the fans should also lift their glasses in a toast to all those who carried the flag and those who are still to receive the signal honour; those who may still, any day now, kneel and rise as Sirs.
Men like George Headley, Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh, Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs and Clive Lloyd may have been knighted, but for their countries' independence and their stance on British honours, and others like Malcolm Marshall (posthumously) and Brian Lara, who deserve it, may still be invited to accept it.
West Indians everywhere hail these legends, these men of greatness. They were the ones who either set the pace or carried the West Indies to the pinnacle of world cricket, a performance which made the West Indies arguably the greatest team in the history of cricket.
May they inspire the cricketers of today to walk in their footsteps.