Ahead of the West Indies Test, Rob Curphey looks back on previous Lord's appearances by the Windies, with help of items on display in the Museum for visitors to see.
The first appearance by the West Indies team came in 1928, where R K Nunes captained a team which toured England to play three Tests, the first coming at Lord’s – which was also the first Test match between the two nations. An England team captained by A P F Chapman defeated the tourists by an innings and 58 runs. The MCC Archive contains scorecards from every match on this tour.
The Windies’ first victory at Lord’s came on their fourth attempt in 1950, where a team captained by John Goddard won by 326 runs, thanks to some superb individual performances – Allan Rae scored 106 in the first innings and Clyde Walcott made an unbeaten 168 in the second.
Meanwhile, the formidable spin partnership of ‘those two little pals of mine’ Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine put England’s batsman to the sword, taking 18 of the 20 England wickets between them. Ramadhin’s figures of 5/66 and 6/86 made him the first West Indian bowler to appear on the honours board at Lord’s when they were produced over 40 years later, and also he is one of two West Indians to appear on the list of cricketers who took 10 wickets in a match at Lord’s – Courtney Walsh became the second in 2000.
The West Indies’ victory was quickly immortalised in song by a gentleman named Egbert Moore, aka Lord Beginner who with the Calypso Rhythm Kings produced the song ‘Victory Test Match – Calypso’ also known as ‘Cricket, Lovely Cricket’ to commemorate West Indies’ victory, with was published on the Melodisc record label and backed with another song, ‘Sergeant Brown – Calinda’ both of which were supervised by Denis Preston.
The lyrics give an accurate portrayal of the events that happened, with lyrics such as ‘Rae had confidence / So he put up a strong defence / He saw the King was waiting to see / So he gave him a century’ in addition to the earlier reference to Ramadhin and Valentine. A copy of the vinyl is currently on display in the MCC Museum, one of many records relating to cricket that we hold in the archive.
A version of the song can be found here.
In total, England and West Indies have played each other 20 times at the Home of Cricket, with 9 England wins, 4 for West Indies and 7 draws – their last victory coming in the year of England’s ‘summer of four captains’ in 1988.
The first draw between the two teams in a Test match came in 1963, which was famous for Colin Cowdrey returning to the crease with his arm in plaster for the match’s final two balls, as England clung on to share a draw.
Despite their famous Test victories, arguably West Indies’ most significant performances at Lord’s came in 1975 and 1979, where they won the first two Cricket World Cup Finals, then known as the Prudential Cup, against Australia and England.
Visitors to the MCC Museum over the course of the Test can see the trophy on display next to the Ashes Urn, but the MCC Archive holds plenty of material on those two tournaments, which researchers can view by appointment in the MCC Library. This includes scoresheets from the Irving Rosenwater and Bill Frindall archives from both tournaments – especially the finals, containing scorecards, scoresheets, statistics, commentator’s notes, press releases and even betting slips. An example of the content is shown below from the 1979 final, scored by Rosenwater for BBC Television:
As it turned out the top batsman that day was Viv Richards, who made 138 not out, while the Windies lived up to their favourites tag, winning by 92 runs. The museum holds lots of items relating to Richards on display, including wagon wheels, correspondence, passport forms, a cap and signed portrait drawn by J C Lund.