THE MAGNIFICENCE THAT WAS WEST INDIES – This story should the good man teach his son

By Clayton Goodwin

Frank Worrell – Master of the spirit of cricket
George Headley – Master of the playing of cricket

West Indies have dominated world cricket for the greater part of my life-time. Not now, however, because the present side has become such a shadowy successor of the great teams of the past. Yet it has been a glorious past – not only for the successes and performances themselves but for the manner in which they have been achieved, the panache and the excitement, the talent and the commitment, and, of course, the mastery.

The past is an inspiration to the present.

As the present can be an inspiration to the future.

And what an inspiration it has been!

In 1950 the “calypso cricketers”, as they were so condescendingly called, taught the masters how to play the game – and at Lord’s, the headquarters of cricket at that. In the 1960s, Frank Worrell led a team that captured, revolutionised, and revitalised the spirit of cricket, in winning the soul of the public, and with it world supremacy.

The Unconquered, or nearly so, side under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards had it all. For two decades they bestrode the cricket world like a colossus. They very name West Indies was synonymous with cricket, and cricket, itself, was defined by West Indies. As William Shakespeare, himself, may have written –

Then shall our names
Familiar in his mouth as household words –
Lloyd the leader, Richards and Holding
Greenidge and Haynes, Roberts and Marshall
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red
This story shall the good man teach his son.

It is a story which Caribcommx intends to teach all our sons, and daughters.

I came into that picture professionally as a press messenger, and, indeed, reporter at Lord’s in 1963, one of the great Test matches of legend. Before that I had seen two days, one bowling and one batting, of the West Indians in 1957. Yet the roots of my interest went deeper still to watching Allan Rae hitting sixes at a charity game at Gravesend in 1948, and even to the memories of my parents, when they not yet married, of the last peace-time Test at the Oval in 1939. And then there were the pioneers who brought West Indies into the Test match orbit in 1928, so laying down the legacy of legend, and a magnificent legend it has been.

Caribcommx is launching an initiative to recapture and record – The Magnificence that was West Indies – to recapture and record the history of the players, the matches, the points of interest, even the controversies in those hundred years from the region’s first Test match appearance in 1928 and culminating in the centenary in 1928.

I shall not be around for all of that journey, but hope to inspire and encourage every person, organisation and enterprise with West Indies cricket in its heart to strive by all methods at their disposal to recall and exalt the treasures of the past as a delight in themselves and as a support for the present, and an inspiration to the future. And for that celebration to be appropriate for the century of West Indies circket.

The Magnificence that was the West Indies ….

The story is truly magnificent.

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