Home > Features >

10 little-known facts about Sir Frank Worrell

Frank Worrell: the face of West Indian cricket © Getty Images
Frank Worrell: the face of West Indian cricket © Getty Images

Sir Frank Worrell, born on August 1, 1924, was perhaps the greatest ambassador of the sport. Abhishek Mukherjee showcases a list of little-known facts about the legend.

Of all Knighted cricketers — and the list includes Don Bradman, no less — the title was perhaps the most befitting to Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell. Bradman outshone, and continues to outshine, batsmen throughout the history of the sport; Garry Sobers had the world in awe with his multitude of talent; Jack Hobbs, of course, was The Master who combined grace and appetite for runs even in his late 40s; but Worrell?

Worrell was certainly not the greatest batsman West Indies had produced; he was not even the greatest Bajan; his Test numbers — 3,860 runs at 49.48 — were surpassed by the other two Ws (Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott); yet, he was the first of the three to be Knighted. Had Worrell not done anything else he would still have been remembered for being the first black man to be appointed captain for West Indies for a full series (George Headley had earlier led them in a single Test). That impact of the incident went far beyond the cricket boundary. However, his contributions stretched beyond the borders of the islands. He served cricket the way few others have.

Let us have a list of ten little-known things about the legend.

1) The trinity

Most people are aware of the fact that Worrell, Weekes, and Walcott were born within 18 months and one mile of each other, and went on to form perhaps the most famous trinity in world cricket. What is relatively unknown is the fact that they were delivered by the same midwife.

2) The bighead and the betrayer

It is almost impossible to believe, but Worrell, one of the gentlest and most amicable characters one could come across, was called obnoxious bighead at school and was subject to beatings and canings. He was even suspended from playing cricket — a punishment that was, as he wrote in Cricket Punch, “like a death sentence”.

Worrell’s mother had moved to New York when he was young. His father was often away on sea. Not quite happy with the idea of staying alone, he moved to Jamaica at an early age. For some reasons a chunk of Bajans never forgave him for this: it was nothing short of “betrayal” in their eyes.

3) The 500-man

Playing for Barbados against Trinidad at Kensington Oval, Frank Worrell (308 not out) and John Goddard (218 not out) put up the first First-Class 500-run partnership on West Indian soil. They added an unbroken 502 in a mere 404 minutes.

Two seasons later against the same opposition, Worrell (255 not out) was at it again, adding a humongous unbroken 574 in a mere 335 minutes with Walcott (314 not out). It remains the only other 500-run (and obviously the highest) First-Class partnership on West Indian soil.

Worrell also became the first player to be involved in two First-Class 500-run partnerships (Ravindra Jadeja is the only other one to have achieved this till date). Worrell and Walcott were also the youngest to put up a 500-stand (they were 20 and 21 respectively), but Jadeja (19) and Cheteshwar Pujara (20) did it when they were a year younger.

4) The donor

It is well-known that The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) organises a blood donation camp every year on February; hundreds donate blood at the Eden Gardens on the day; CAB also calls it the Frank Worrell Day. The lesser known Frank Worrell Memorial Blood Drive had started in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009; it was inaugurated by — most fittingly — Nari Contractor.

5) Chicken!

Worrell was extremely popular in the islands —because of his stature as well as his batsmanship — and they often went ballistic when he reached a milestone. On one occasion, Worrell raised his bat when he reached a double-hundred, when he saw a spectator running on the ground to congratulate him — with a live chicken as a gift!

6) Rum!

Avoiding rum is not the easiest option for a man born in Barbados and settled in Jamaica. Worrell was a connoisseur, and (by all sources of information) preferred Barbadian rum over its Jamaican counterpart despite the popularity of the latter. In fact, he described the recipe of his favourite cocktail in his autobiography.

It goes like this: “No one expects me to produce a cookery book or a book on Cocktails, and How to Make Them, but in Barbados there is a famous drink that you might like to make for yourself. All you need is Barbados rum, condensed milk (sweet) and ice. You just mix equal parts of the rum (and it must be Barbados rum!) and the milk, add lots of ice and stir the mixture well — it is best to make the drink in a large jug if there is a crowd to serve.”

7) The man who wanted results

One of the reasons for Worrell’s popularity as captain was his willingness to reach a result. Worrell led West Indies in 15 Tests: they won nine of these and lost three. In two of the remaining three, the Tests ended with the sides batting in the fourth innings nine wickets down. As for the other, as we all know, it had ended in the first ever tie.

8) Handing over the Trophy

Controlling Garry Sobers — a person who seldom allowed himself to be dictated by others —was often a captain’s nightmare. On the historic 1960-61 series at Australia Sobers showed dissent after an umpire’s decision, following which he was reprimanded by Worrell. The team learnt a lesson: nobody questioned the umpire’s decision for the rest of the series.

The West Indians under Worrell had won the hearts of the locals that Australian summer through positive cricket and excellent demeanour through the series. Richie Benaud was booed when he did not recall Joe Solomon after he was given out hit wicket when his cap fell on the stumps in the second Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG); an estimated crowd of 500,000 gathered to see them off after the tour; but the greatest honour for Worrell had come after the fourth Test with the series levelled 1-1.

By the time the fifth Test had started at MCG, it had already been decided that the contest between Australia and West Indies would be subsequently called the Frank Worrell Trophy. Australia scraped home by two wickets, but the crowd cheered for the tourists — especially their captain, who brushed the Trophy with the sleeve of his blazer before handing it over to Benaud.

9) The Bollywood connection

Worrell made a cameo (and utterly irrelevant) appearance in Raj Kapoor’s Around the World, where the protagonist makes random questions and our man corrects them.

It was a forgettable role, but an appearance nevertheless.

10) Westminster Abbey

Worrell passed away of leukaemia at a mere 42. A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in his honour. Wisden later wrote: “West Indians of all backgrounds and shades of opinion paid their last respects to a man (Worrell) who had done more than any other of their countrymen to bind together the new nations of the Caribbean and establish a reputation for fair play throughout the world.”

There was a reason for Worrell being the first sportsperson to be thus commemorated.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 25, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 26, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Mohali

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014  at Hyderabad

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Perth Scorchers won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014  at Raipur

NK won by 33 runs (D/L method)

Photos

KXIP vs Hobart Hurricanes, Match 2 CLT20 2014

Videos

Kane, Devcich praise each others knock

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: Key Battles

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: CSK’s likely XI

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: Dolphins’ likely XI

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Kuldeep Yadav’s dramatic debut for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) shows he is one for the future

Cape Cobras vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 — Highlights

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins Hobart Hurricanes Incheon Asian Games India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Lahore Lions

CLT20 2014 Live Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings vs Dolphins

Chennai Super Kings vs Dolphins Live Streaming CLT20 2014 9th Match at Bangalore

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins Live Cricket Score CLT20 2014 Match 8 at Bengaluru

Manoj Tiwary named India A captain for tour game against West Indies

Gautam Gambhir is a very good captain: Ryan ten Doeschate

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: Key Battles

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: CSK’s likely XI

Jalaluddin takes first ODI hat-trick

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Dolphins, Match 8, CLT20 2014: Dolphins’ likely XI

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Kuldeep Yadav’s dramatic debut for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) shows he is one for the future

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

670 Posts | 6 Fans

CLT20 2014: Kings Xi Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, final over

Beintehaa: Will Zain leave his house to remarry Aaliya?

NGOs pursue education for all

Ungli motion poster: Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda, Sanjay Dutt, Kangana Ranaut set to sizzle in Karan Johar next!

Roger Federer says ‘Namaste India’ as Swiss Master replaces injured Rafael Nadal in Indian Aces for IPTL

CLT20 2014 Live Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings vs Dolphins

Chennai Super Kings vs Dolphins Live Streaming CLT20 2014 9th Match at Bangalore

Bang Bang Dare: Priyanka Chopra accepts Hrithik Roshan’s challenge, does a handstand

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley admitted to hospital in Delhi

Xbox One India launch: Here are all the games available

iPhone 6 sales outpacing iPhone 6 Plus, usage tracker reveal

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here