The 3Ws factor
The era of the famous Three Ws – Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes – is long gone, but their deeds are not forgotten.
The great George Headley played only three Tests after the war, and despite his outstanding career, West Indies’ overall middle-order stats had been pretty ordinary before the three Ws came along: until January 20, 1948, the average for the middle order (Nos. 3-6) in their 22 Tests had been 29.38, well below the corresponding numbers for Australia (35.42) and England (35.57).
Over the next decade (1948 to 1958), the stats for Australia and England improved marginally, but for West Indies the average went up by a whopping 63 per cent compared to their middle-order average before the three Ws came along.
That put them on a different level altogether when compared to the other teams. The West Indies middle order averaged 47.99, while the next best was Australia at 39.15. The difference between the two teams, in percentage terms, was almost 23, which is remarkable considering some of the other names who were around during that period.
Australia had Neil Harvey and Lindsay Hassett; while Denis Compton, Peter May and Tom Graveney were playing for England. Yet, collectively, they paled before the combined brilliance of Weekes, Walcott and Worrell.
During this period, much of West Indies’ batting, and the runs they put up on the board, depended on the contributions of the three Ws. A good example of this was the fifth Test of the home series against Australia in 1955.
In the first innings, West Indies were bowled out for 357, of which 272 came from the bats of Walcott (155), Worrell (61) and Weekes (56). In the second innings, Walcott scored another century, and in all, the three Ws contributed 430 out of West Indies’ match total of 676. West Indies, though, lost the match by an innings and 82 runs. Though their middle order was so much better than those of the other sides, West Indies’ overall results in this era were not outstanding. They won 17 and lost 15 out of 49 Tests, and their win-loss ratio was third best, behind Australia, who were far superior, and England. Apart from the middle order, the other aspects of West Indies’ team weren’t the best. Australia and England had better openers, while four teams – Australia, England, South Africa and Pakistan – had better bowling attacks. West Indian bowlers only averaged 32.73 runs per wicket compared to Australia’s 26.10. But in terms of middle-order batting, no team came close to West Indies’ classy line-up. Weekes and Worrell both averaged less than 40 against Australia, but feasted on the Indian attack. Weekes averaged 106.78 in ten Tests, and scored more runs off India than any other team, while Worrell averaged almost 61 against India, and 116.50 in two Tests against New Zealand. Walcott’s record was more consistent, with an average of 57 against Australia – including centuries in each innings in two Tests in 1955 – and more than 44 against all sides. There were 29 Tests that Weekes, Worrell and Walcott played together, and in those matches, Worrell was the only one to average more than 50 (even though in terms of overall career stats he was the only one among the three to average less than 50). West Indies, though, didn’t have a very successful time in those games, winning seven Tests and losing 12. Worrell’s averaged dipped below 50 (49) following the tour of England in 1963 when he was 38 and past his best. However, he has a better record in England and Australia than the other Ws.
The first cricket Test between South Africa and Australia begins.
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