Frank Worrell: First Black Captain of West Indies Cricket

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Frank Worrell was one of the most respected West Indies cricket players. Cricket was a form of enjoyment for him rather than a serious activity. He demonstrated that by detaching himself from the game and not following news reports constantly. Worrell was part of the ‘Three Ws’ of the West Indies Cricket team and became its first black captain to lead the team in a series. His career was brief but impactful. Learn more here.

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Frank Worrell’s Career

A review of Frank Worrell’s career. Video Credit: Z Cricket

Worrell was born in 1924 in Barbados. His grandmother raised him after his parents left the country for work. His father was a seaman and his mother left for New York. Despite them being away, they took care of his education. 

Getting into Cricket

He attended Comberemer School, where his cricket journey began. He met former test cricketer Derek Sealy, who trained him. Worrell rose to prominence as a bowler and was known for spinning. He performed well against other schools, and after a show in front of other experienced cricketers, Worrell was challenged to become a batter. 

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Representing Barbados

Frank Worrell Memorial lecture. Video Credit: PMOBarbados

It took time to learn, but he excelled once he mastered it. By the time he left high school, Worrell was one of the best bowlers and batters in Barbados. For that, he was chosen to represent the country in the Goodwill Games during the Second World War.

During the games, Worrell earned a permanent position on the team as the leading batsman after he single handedly led them to victory against Trinidad & Tobago. When England visited in 1948, the batsman replicated his performance., finishing the game with 294 runs.

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Club Cricket

During his time, there wasn’t as much cricket as today. When he wasn’t with Barbados, Worrell played club cricket for Barbados and then went to Jamaica. After leading the West Indies to its first-ever win against England, he settled there and joined Radcliffe in the Central Lancashire League.

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First Black West Indies Captain

Frank Worrell and the West Indies playing against Australia. Video Credit: Visual Art and Production

By the 1950s, Worrell, Walcott, and Weekes had formed a trio that came to be known as the ‘Three Ws’. Worrell led them to West Indies’ first-ever win against England at Lord’s. He’d mastered the way English cricketers played and used that to deliver victories at Nottingham and Yorkshire. After his heroics, Worrell was named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

By this time, there were a lot of calls to have a black man leading the team. Eventually, the West Indies appointed Worrell to that position. He led them against Australia but didn’t produce the kind of performances fans were used to seeing. They lost 2-1 but were still given a standing ovation.

He led them against England again and West Indies won the series 3-1 for their second victory. After the tour, Frank Worrell retired from the game. He finished with 3860 runs. He captained them to 69 wickets and in 15 tests, he won nine, drew two and lost three. 

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After Retirement

Frank Worrell worked as a warden at the University of West Indies and in the Jamaican senate. He was knighted for his contributions to the game.

In 1964/65, he was the manager of the West Indies Cricket team. He was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 1966.

Frank Worrell defined some of the greatest moments of West Indies cricket. He led the team long before he was its captain by always producing stellar performances. Upon ascending to captaincy, he shared the knowledge he had to ensure the team kept winning. 

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