Ahead of England’s first Test against West Indies in Barbados, ESPNcricinfo asked Desmond Haynes, West Indies legend and Visit Barbados ambassador, to look back on the greatest players in the island’s history, and pick an all-time Barbados Test XI
Conrad Hunte (44 Tests, 3245 runs at 45.06)
I would have to give way to Sir Conrad at the top of the order, because he was simply the better batsman. He was a country boy from St Andrew who made 142 on his Test debut against Pakistan at Bridgetown, including two fours from his first two balls. In fact, he made a habit of getting off the mark with a four, which is amazing. As an opening batsman, you look back and see three slips and two gullies, no-one’s bowling at your legs, everyone’s bowling outside off to the fields on the off side.
Gordon Greenidge (108 Tests, 7558 runs at 44.72)
Our opening partnership broke records, but Gordon was the better player. His technique was super, especially against spin. And his double-century to beat England at Lord’s in 1984 was just unbelievable. I remember it very well as I got run out by Allan Lamb, and I still had my pads on while Gordon and Larry Gomes were setting about the runs. We were chasing 342 on the final day, and everyone thought we’d bat out time, but Gordon had a different idea. He thought that, if he got going, he could get the runs in an afternoon, and he did.
Everton Weekes (48 Tests, 4455 runs at 58.61)
Richie Benaud reckoned Sir Everton was the closest player he’d seen to Don Bradman. He made five consecutive Test hundreds, and then got run out on 90 against India – some people reckon he was already past the crease when he was given out! He was very classical and stylish, always looked the part, with his shirt buttoned up and a scarf round his neck. He hardly ever hit a six, he just kept everything on the ground. His legacy, alongside Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott, is what Barbados cricket is all about. If these guys could come from a tiny island in the Atlantic and become the best batsmen in the world, then we could too.
Seymour Nurse (29 Tests, 2523 runs at 47.60)
Seymour Nurse was my hero. He had the whole area of St James mesmerised when I was growing up. All of us loved him. We walked like him, talked like him, we tried to copy his shots. We used to watch him at Kensington Oval, the way he’d lean back to cut the ball and end up standing by the square leg umpire, the way he’d always get off the mark with a leg glance. He was super and stylish. He retired far too early, but went out with a hundred and a double-hundred in his final series against New Zealand. What a lovely way to finish.
Clyde Walcott (wk) (44 Tests, 3798 runs at 56.68; 53 catches, 11 stumpings)
He was so strong off the back foot, and his record is just incredible. Sir Clyde will be the wicketkeeper in my team as well, which is a role he played very well in the early years of his career. It’s hard luck on David Murray, who was a great student of the game, with a very good cricketing brain and, in my opinion, the best keeper that Barbados ever produced. But sadly his batting wasn’t strong enough to match the standards required for this all-time team. And besides, you simply cannot argue with the record and legacy of the 3Ws.
Garfield Sobers (93 Tests, 8032 runs at 57.78; 235 wickets at 34.03)
What can you say about Sir Garry? He is the best allrounder the world has ever seen, and the best overall cricketer, and he’s a lovely human being too. I never got to play against him, but I once faced him in an indoor net in Brisbane when he was coaching some schoolchildren. He was bowling back-of-the-hand wristspin, and asked me to pad up so I could show the kids how to face it. After five or six balls, he said “Stop, stop, you can’t play this either!” Sir Garry’s reading of the game was incredible. They used to say he’d leave a position in the field, go somewhere different – like from slip to silly point – and the ball would come straight to him. That’s the type of person he is.
Frank Worrell (capt) (51 Tests, 3860 runs at 49.48)
Sir Frank was the first black captain of West Indies, and a great leader, and everyone still talks about how he moulded the team, and brought them together. Look at what happened on that tour of Australia in 1960-61, when West Indies played with style and passion (especially during the tied Test at Brisbane) and thousands of people lined the streets to say farewell to the team after the series. This gentleman is considered to be one of the biggest icons we’ve had in Barbados, and his record speaks for himself.
Malcolm Marshall (81 Tests, 376 wickets at 20.94)
Macco had it all. Inswing, outswing, and a vicious skidding bouncer, but I’ve never seen anyone with a work ethic quite like him. He never practiced with a new ball, he used to look for one that had been half-chewed by a dog, then work on it, and still make it do something. And that’s the way to learn. He loved his stats too. I remember on a tour of Pakistan, he said to me, ‘the greatest fast bowler, Dennis Lillee, got one wicket here, so as soon as I get two, I’m better than him!’ Fielding at bat-pad, he was my buddy. I used to encourage him to run in hard at their bowlers, because in a few overs’ time they’d be bowling to me, and if he could inflict some pain on them, it’d make my life easier! We never had to do a lot of talking out in the field. We let the ball do the talking for us.
Joel Garner (58 Tests, 259 wickets at 20.97)
Joel would be my man for fixing up the tail, he had a serious yorker, and I remember a Test match here in Barbados when he broke Bruce Yardley’s toe. Malcolm was quicker, and Andy Roberts too, but Joel got awkward bounce from very close to the body, and the keeper would always be taking the ball above his head. He had a lovely approach to the crease too, very low into his last three or four strides before rising into his action, which was lovely to see. He just bowled straight, on a heavy back-of-a-length. Can you imagine trying to face him at Perth? He was just amazing in those conditions. I never saw anyone get hold of him and put some lashes in him.
Wes Hall (48 Tests, 192 wickets at 26.38)
This was a very easy choice. Any fast bowler who can bowl close to 100mph and deliver awayswinger bouncers is always going to be difficult to face. He had remarkable stamina, running in from the sightscreen for long spells. He was just an unbelievable athlete. Amazingly, he was a wicketkeeper when he started out, but one day he got up and decided to bowl fast and all of a sudden was the No.1 bowler in the world. He moved to Trinidad late in his career, and made a fantastic contribution there as a coach, bringing through so many youngsters.
Charlie Griffith (28 Tests, 94 wickets at 28.54)
There are so many Barbados fast bowlers to choose from, but Sir Charles gets in my team because of the partnership he forged with Sir Wes. He was a fearsome fast bowler. People used to seek him out in club cricket, hoping he wouldn’t bowl fast at them, but that never worked. He started out as an offspinner, but one day, when he decided to bowl quick, he took 7 for 1 and never looked back. Off the field he was a bus conductor, and that was inspiring too. Just look at the background of all of these guys, from such humble homes and upbringings. We’d look at the contribution they made to Barbados, and by extension West Indies, and think, we can do it too. As a youngster, all I wanted to do was play cricket for West Indies.
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