Memories of Lord's 1950
ON THE BOUNDARY - Tony Becca
The West Indies tackle England in the first Test at Lord's starting on Thursday, and apart from it being the wettest month of May for many moons, apart from it being very cold and difficult for West Indians to play cricket, the West Indies begin the three-match contest as rank outsiders; as plain and simple the underdogs.
The reason for the underdog tag is that England, with an experienced batting line-up of Andrew Strauss - 6,604 runs, 19 centuries, a top score of 177, and an average of 41.02 from 94 Test matches, Alastair Cook - 6,184 runs, 19 centuries, a top score of 294, and an average of 48.69 from 77 Test matches, Jonathan Trott - 2,319 runs, seven centuries, a top score of 226, and an average of 52.90 from 28 Test matches, Kevin Pietersen - 6,654 runs, 20 centuries, a top score of 227, and an average of 49.28 from 83 Test matches, Ian Bell - 5,161 runs, 16 centuries, a top score of 238, and an average of 46.49 from 74 Test matches, and including wicketkeeper- batsman Matthew Prior who has scored 2,758 runs, hit six centuries with a top score of 131 not out, and has averaged 43.09 in 52 Test matches, parade a strong and solid aggregation.
And their bowling, to be selected from speedsters, young and old, from James Anderson - 258 wickets with a best of seven for 43 at an average of 30.60 from 68 Test matches, Stuart Broad - 147 wickets, a best of six for 46, and an average of 28.30 from 45 Test matches, Tim Bresnan with 43 wickets, a best of five for 48, and an average of 24.16 from 11 Test matches, Steven Finn with 53 wickets, a best of six for 125, and an average of 26.92 from 13 Test matches, Chris Tremlett with 49 wickets, a best of six for 42, and an average of 26.75 from 11 Test matches, and the off-spinner with the almost perfect action, Graeme Swann, who has taken 182 wickets with a best of six for 65 and an average of 27.87 from 41 Test matches, is good, very good, especially in their own country.
On top of that, with Broad boasting a top score of 169 and averaging 28.30 in Test matches, and with Bresnan scoring 91 not out and averaging 40.37, England's team is well balanced.
The West Indies line-up pales in comparison.
In Shivnarine Chanderpaul, at 37 years old with 10,055 runs, 25 Test centuries, a top score of 203 not out, and an average of 50.05, the West Indies can match any of England's stars. After that, however, based on experience and performance and with the exception of a few, the comparison stops with the dependable left-hander.
In comparison to England's grand collection of experienced performers, the 22-year-old Adrian Barath has scored 543 runs with one century, 104, and an average of 23.60 from 12 Test matches, the 22-year-old Kieron Powell has scored 284 runs with a top score of 81 and an average of 23.66 from six Test matches, the 27-year-old Kirk Edwards has scored 457 runs with two centuries and a top score of 121 at an average 50.53 from seven Test matches, the 23-year-old Darren Bravo has scored 1,339 runs with three centuries and a top score 195 at an average of 49.59 from 16 Test matches, the 31-year-old Marlon Samuels who has scored 1,824 runs with two centuries and a top score of 105 at an average of 29.41 from 37 matches, the 28-year-old Narsingh Deonarine has scored 487 runs with a top score of 82 and average of 28.64 from 11 Test matches, the 27-year-old wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin has scored 1,482 runs with one century, 166, at an average of 22.80 from 42 Test matches, and the 28-year-old Darren Sammy, the all-rounder who has scored 783 runs with a top score of 61 and an average of 19.09 from 24 Test matches.
And part from the 30-year-old fast bowler Fidel Edwards, who has taken 157 wickets with a best of seven for 87 albeit at an average of 37.81, the West Indies bowling, as promising as it appears to be, is not much better.
With the 22-year-old Shannon Gabriel still to play a Test match, the statistics read: pacers Kemar Roach - 23 years old, 17 Test matches, 62 wickets, a best of six for 48 at an average of 28.67, and Ravi Rampaul - 27 years old, 14 Test matches, 36 wickets, a best of four for 48, and an average of 36.58, medium-pacer Sammy - 28 years old, 24 Test matches, 64 wickets with a best of seven for 66, and an average of 30.99, and the 29-year-old off-spinner Shane Shillingford with 28 wickets, a best of six for 119, at an average of 41.40 from seven Test matches.
With Samuels and Deonarine, two of the batsmen who are bowlers' assistants, averaging 74.89 for each of his 19 Test wickets and 33.84 for each of his 13 wickets, respectively, with the all-rounder Sammy averaging 19.09 per innings with the bat, and with the best of the bowlers averaging 12.50 with the bat, not much can be reasonably expected from the batsmen with the ball or from the bowlers with the bat.
Looking at those statistics, England should win the Test match and go on to win the series, and despite all the talk of the West Indies captain, with all Sammy's promise of a memorable fight to the finish from his band of talented men, they should, despite the unpredictability of sports, lose the contest, and easily at that.
On top of everything else, the weather and the difference in experience and quality, based on performance, between the two teams, make England appear untouchable.
good West Indies team
My mind, however, goes back to Lord's in 1950, to a West Indies team which first played at Lord's in 1928, to a West Indies team which had never won a Test match in England, to a West Indies team with so many members playing in England for the first time, to a West Indies team boasting hardly a star except for may be Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, and Clyde Walcott, to a West Indies team facing an England team with, among others, Len Hutton, Reg Simpson, Bill Edrich, Trevor Bailey, Godfrey Evans, and Jim Laker at Lord's, with others like Cyril Washbrook, Johnny Wardle, Alec Bedser, Reverend David Sheppard, and Denis Compton appearing later on, and to a West Indies team which won the Test match and went on to win the series.
The West Indies team won that Test match, the second Test match, after losing the first, by the commanding margin of 326 runs, they won the Test match because of Allan Rae's first-innings 106 and Walcott's second-innings 168 not out but mainly through the spin bowling of Sonny Ramadhin and Alfred Valentine, the pair of 20-year-olds, those "two little pals of mine" who took 11 and seven wickets each, and they won the other two Test matches to win the series.
With England at number one and the West Indies at number seven, England should win the Test match at Lord's and the series, no doubt about that, and especially with England boasting 5,129 points to the West Indies' 2,898 and 116 rating points to the West Indies 85.
The West Indies, however, with Richie Richardson as the manager, with Ottis Gibson as the coach, and with Sammy, with all his short-comings as a player, urging the players on as the captain who always believe, or so he says, that he can win, could ambush them, especially if two or three of the batsmen get going, if Bravo, Samuels, and Chanderpaul come good, if Fidel Edwards and Roach are at their best, and if, in the cold and rainy weather, they come good in the field.
Lord's 1950 was a great occasion and a memorable occasion for West Indies cricket.