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Windies over-80s still going strong

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Test cricket started quite a long time ago, in the 19th century, and while those early pioneers are long dead, there are still some surviving veterans who took the field almost 70 years ago.{{more}}

Recently, Test cricket lost its oldest living player, the South African Norman Gordon, who passed away at the ripe old age of 103. It means that there are now no surviving players who played Test cricket before 1945, the oldest living player being another South African, 95-year-old Lindsay Tuckett.

Several Caribbean cricketers are among a list of some 88 former Test cricketers still alive and in their eighties. Leading the list is the unlucky Andy Ganteaume of Trinidad and Tobago, still alive and kicking at the age of 93. His is a unique case, in that he had the honour of scoring a century on his Test debut,112 against England at the Queen’s Park Oval in 1948. Unfortunately it turned out to be his only innings. The upshot of this is that he ended with a higher average than even the legendary Don Bradman!

There are still two survivors of the legendary 1950 West Indies team which humbled England on English soil for the first time and became one of the greatest West Indies teams of all time. Sir Everton Weekes is one year short of 90, proving as prolific in life as he was at the crease, while Sonny Ramadin celebrated his 85th birthday last May.

Incidentally, each of these two belonged to a select group in the West Indies team. Sir Everton was one of the feared 3Ws batting trio, along with the late Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott, both of whom were also knighted. Ramadin was the other half of the famed ‘Spin Twins’, together with Alf Valentine. They mesmerised batsmen in the fifties and were instrumental in that 1950 success.

There are five survivors from the world championship team of the sixties, batsmen Seymour Nurse, Basil Butcher and Joe Solomon, all-rounder Willie Rodriguez and wicketkeeper Jackie Hendriks.

With other over-eighties like Bruce Pairaudeau, Cammie Smith, Tom Dewdney and Reggie Scarlett still around, the West Indies are well-placed to field an over-80s team.

They would have to come up against long-time foes still alive such as Tom Graveney, Brian Close, Ray Illingworth and Frank Tyson of England; Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Neil Harvey and Arthur Morris of Australia; the Indians Chandu Borde, Bapu Nadkarni and Nari Contractor, the latter nearly losing his life when struck by a Charlie Griffith bouncer in 1962; Imtiaz Ahmed and Wazir Mohammad of Pakistan, Wazir being one of three brothers to represent Pakistan; and the New Zealand all-rounder John Reid.

What a contest that would be!

(contributed by Renwick Rose)

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