Cricket, lovely cricket!
At Lord’s where I saw it.
Not many cricket matches in history have inspired music, but the 1950 Lord’s Test between England and West Indies was one of them.
The famous calypso by Lord Beginner (Egbert Moore) was written in its aftermath, as jubilant West Indies supporters, bolstered by the recent arrival of the Windrush generation, strolled around the outfield of Lord’s following their team’s first Test win on English soil.
Their victory was all the sweeter for being unexpected. English fans knew of the prowess of the West Indies batting, led by the ‘three W’s’ – Frank Worrell had announced himself with 131 not out in only his second Test on England’s last tour of the Caribbean, while on a recent tour of India Everton Weekes had hammered four Test tons and Clyde Walcott two – but expectations of their bowling were limited. Almost nothing was known of the two young spinners in the party:
Those two little pals of mine,
Ramadhin and Valentine.
Sonny Ramadhin (21) and Alf Valentine (20) had only played two first-class matches each before the tour. So raw were they that their teammates even instructed them in the art of signing autographs on the journey to England. But they were quick learners - Valentine took 11 wickets in the first Test at Old Trafford and Ramadhin four. At Lord’s they shared nine as England slumped to 151 all out in just over two sessions on the second day, in response to the visitors’ 326. A first innings lead of 175 became truly unassailable for West Indies after Walcott’s 168 not out took them to 425 for 6 declared.
England needed 601 to win; they had almost two days to survive. They tried to grind it out, just four down at the close of day four with Cyril Washbrook still going on 114. Ramadhin bowled him early on the last day, but still England kept going. Valentine toiled through 71 overs, Ramadhin 72; nine wickets fell to them once more, until finally Worrell trapped Johnny Wardle lbw with England 326 adrift. There followed what John Arlott called “an atmosphere of joy such as Lord’s had never known before.”
After all was said and done,
Second Test and the West Indies won!