When only a white could Captain the West Indies Cricket Team

“I am of the firm belief that whatever is for you in this world, it will come to you. Nobody can stop it; they might be able to delay it somewhat, but they do not have the power to prevent it coming to you.”

Earle Clarke

Sir Frank Worrell

Sir Frank Worrell

When John Goddard resigned after skippering the West Indies team during the 1950 tour to England (video), some hoped that a black would finally be selected to lead – based on talent and leadership abilities, not skin colour. But it was not to be.

Don’t forget: this was an era when only white reporters were allowed to cover events in the Courts of Barbados, and when a person of colour could not eat at the yacht club let alone become a member.

It was another ten years before Frank Worrell (above) became Captain during the 1960-61 “Down Under” tour.

Earle Clarke remembers that it wasn’t all about cricket…


by Earle Clarke

Some years ago, I wrote an article containing information which I will use today. In that article, I was trying to show the discrimination in the West Indies Cricket Team against Black captains from the inception of West Indies Cricket on the world stage, but, in today’s column, I will point out the qualities that make good leaders, using the same West Indies Cricket Team as an example. In the 1950’s when I was able to understand the game of cricket, it dawned on me that, although there was a goodly number of black players on the team, it had to be captained by a white man, especially cricket teams which hailed from the sister island of Barbados.

I could well remember listening to a cricket series, England vs West Indies in England in 1950 when I attended the Basseterre Boys’ School at Victoria Road, where all of us from the New Town area would end up receiving lashes from the Head Master for late coming, because we stopped by Pappy, a Taxi Service place right in front of Lime’s office on Cayon Street to listen to the game.

In those days, poor people like us could only listen to radios in the rum shops or by Mr. Pappy on our way to and from school. I remember that the West Indies was skippered by a white Barbadian named, John Goddard. John Goddard resigned after the tour in 1950 to England and Dennis Atkinson another white Barbadian was selected as captain. The Three W’s

On the West Indies team were three back Barbadians who were known as the three “W’s. Frank Worrell, a University Graduate, Everton Weekes, and Clyde Walcott, who was made vice captain of the team on the 1957 tour of England.

Despite all of these discriminating circumstances, none of them revolted, showed dissent, or betrayed the team or the leadership. I am of the firm belief that whatever is for you in this world, it will come to you. Nobody can stop it; they might be able to delay it somewhat, but they do not have the power to prevent it coming to you.

Somewhere, sometime, an opportunity will present itself without any planning or wishing on your part. You see, our lives are entirely and divinely mapped out for us. That is why I say that nobody can stop what is ordained to come to you.

Frank Worrell, the University graduate, was the most educated of the lot, yet, despite all of his qualifications, he remained a humble man, a humble person, because great leaders are not puffed up. They do not push out their chest and thump it for people to observe their leadership qualities.

Leadership qualities are discernible; they can be either seen or felt. Frank Worrell continued to play his game, contributing to the development of his team mates and the team. He was a team man. He displayed real Team Work. He pulled his weight.

As I have said to you before, what is for you is for you. Frank Worrell was afforded the opportunity to display his leadership qualities on the 1957 Tour of England. Where you ever hear the captain and the vice captain of a touring cricket team getting injured in the same game? Frank Worrell took over the leadership of the team and this is what Wisden, The Cricket Almanack said of Frank Worrell, “He displayed an unmistakable gift of leadership.” He went on to become the captain of the West Indies Cricket Team which toured Australia in the 1960-61 series, often times referred to as the memorable tour “Down Under”(Australia).

The very first test match he skippered ended up in a draw. The very first time that ever happened in test cricket. Worrell was the very first black man to ever captain a West Indian Cricket Team abroad.

George Headley, a Jamaican black, captained a test match in Jamaica, 1947-1948. Despite the fact that the team was cheated, such was the high performance of the team and the unmistaken gift of leadership exhibited by Frank Worrell that, on their departure from Australia, huge crowds lined the streets to bid them farewell.

Frank Worrell the natural leader who bided his time, who believed that what is for you will eventually come to you, was able to make his mark. He left a great impression in the hearts and minds of the Australian population and in the Cricketing world.

The whole world began looking up to the West Indies team. Worrell was able to mould them into a team worthy of respect. Well disciplined. All the talents honed into one cricketing fighting force.

After the resignation and the death of Sir Frank Worrell, the team went through many ups and downs until Clive Lloyd came onto the scene. He too went through his trials and tribulations, for that is what captaincy and leadership are all about. You have to be tested and tried to see if you are really made of that special mettle of which captains and leaders are made even if you are Divinely ordained to lead.

At one time Clive Lloyd was not selected by the West Indies Board. President Forbes Burnham of Guyana must have recognized the leadership qualities of the native son. He booked the passage of Clive Lloyd and sent him with the team. Clive took the opportunity to establish himself and later went on to become the captain and the leader par excellence of the West Indies Team, moulding them into a great bastion of Cricket supremacy.

Clive Lloyd did not thumb his chest and proclaim that he was the captain. He sat with his team; he spoke with them and to them; he brought out the best in them. He searched for their individual strengths and weaknesses and he built on them. They became an impregnable force to be reckoned with.

This impregnable Cricket force brought pride and joy to the West Indian Immigrants who were living in England and who suffered all kinds of discrimination from the English.

They also brought pride and joy to the black brothers and sisters in South Africa who were living under the Apartheid system, having to walk with passes in order to move from one area to another in the land in which they were born. Yes! The victories of the West Indies Cricket Team were not only for us West Indians, it was a chest up and a chest out –a big up for black brothers and sisters the world over.

Black people, the world over, were now seen in a different light. While Clive Lloyd led, there was a member of his team who was demonstrating his cricketing prowess on the field. This cricketer, Vivian Richards, hailed from the little island of Antigua where no cricket captain for the West Indies was ever selected; but leadership qualities are not dependent upon the size of the country.

Leaders are just born. They are not made and will always spring up and make and leave their impressions, their footsteps on the sand of time.

Vivian Richards was made vice captain of the team and never once did we hear of any friction between the two because they were all focused and united on one cause and one cause only-The enhancement of West Indies Cricket and to advance the cause of black people, the world over, especially those who were still living under the yoke of colonialism and discrimination. What is for you, will eventually come to you. Nothing could ever stop it.

Vivian Richards’ turn did come and it was such a smooth transition, because he bided his time. He served his apprenticeship well. What is for you will eventually come to you and you know what? You will create all kinds of records in the process.

Vivian Richards was the first West Indian Captain to emerge from a small island and what a great captain he turned out to be? He believed in himself as a black man and he believed in his black race. When the British press discovered the intense pride and joy in this cricketing giant, they began attacking him in their media. They concocted all kinds of stories about him in an attempt to divert him from his course, but they were futile in their attempts. He just kept on displaying his prowess on and off the field of play, swelling the hearts and minds of black people the world over.

When the Apartheid Government was buying cricketers all over the world to come and play in South Africa, a lot of players fell for the lucrative sums offered to them. Vivian Richards was offered a special lucrative package which he refused thereby demonstrating that Great Leaders are not “FOR SALE.’ They do not sell out their principles. What they believed in yesterday, they will still believe in today.

Great leaders do not flip flop. Nobody would trust them or believe in them, for they could change at any time. Their word carries no weight and no strength. Great Leaders do not think of themselves; they focus on the cause and the people they serve. Great leaders don’t have to thump their chest for they to be seen as leaders. People will detect the leadership qualities. You do not have to proclaim your qualities; people will proclaim them for you.

Great leaders do not feel that they are above and beyond the reach and the range of the people they want to serve. They would realize that they are the servants. They are there to serve. Whenever you hear, see, or detect persons who are offering themselves up to be leaders, look at their demeanour, is it all about you or about them!

Do you detect any humility in them? If these leadership qualities are observed, why give them the chance to lead you? Where will they lead you? Why waste time and give them a chance just for giving them a chance sake, only to find out that they are only mouth- a- massies, all mouth and no actions?

Mind you, you have detected their inabilities and incapabilities, yet you still decided to give them a chance. To do what? Our country of St. Kitts and the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis can boast of a real leader of the Frank Worrell, Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards’ caliber. A leader who has weathered the storms, a leader who has been through the fire, a leader who has been tested and tried, a leader who is not a flip flop, a leader who cannot be bought or sold.

A leader who does not think, act, or believe that he is above his people. We should all be singing this love song to him “We would not trade you for the world or the treasures of the sea.” We know what we have and we are holding on to it, for a bird in the hand, is worth forty in the bush. Monkey is sure of what is in its stomach, not what is in its hands.

My granny would end up saying, “IT is better to deal with the devil that you know, than an unknown angel”

… also published at The Labour Spakesman


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Human Rights, Race

6 responses to “When only a white could Captain the West Indies Cricket Team

  1. Jack Tomesy

    Good story!

  2. robert ross

    On the Yacht Club – my recollection (no more) is that its rules did not prohibit black membership – but, of course, you had to get someone to sponsor and second you and then be voted upon. There are now plenty of black members.

    I also have it in mind that there is a club (cricket? yachting?) now whose rules state that only black members are permitted.

    Can anyone fill in the details?

    Yes, it’s a good article on leadership. But it’s not only wanna-be leaders who may be “all mouth and no action”. It might even be considered a national characteristic.

    The black immigrants to the UK “who suffered all kind of discrimination from the English” might be explored further.

  3. Konkieman

    Nice article on leadership and rising up and beyond elements trying to pull you down. Integrity, humility and perseverance are sometimes discounted in a world focused on material things and quick wins. This story left me with a great feeling.

  4. W.I. selectors are still rubbish at picking a good captain, usually going for the older “safe hands” rather than the best leader.

    RR is right there has never been a rule in the rule book at the YC for membership or entry based on colour (or religion, or age, or orientation) but there was one based on sex. Only men were able to be members until relatively recently, early 1970’s I think.

  5. John

    The weird thing is that if you were to look at the genealogy of John Goddard’s forefathers (… and mothers) you will find colour as you will in many Barbadian families.

    John Goddard was thus, not white!!

    Were it not for the success of those who came before him and all those who helped in business, John Goddard might never have played for the West Indies … far less captained!!

    …. and it would not have been because he was non white ….. it would have been because he was too busy working to survive to have time to play cricket, a leisure time activity.

    That is one of the reasons early cricketers received little or no pay, the activity was not considered to be one of work, but of leisure!!

    How things have changed.

  6. D Oracle

    Too bad there aren’t “white” Bajans in Government and politics….things would not be so catastrophically bad in our island.