The West Indies Are Coming:
The 1950 Test

Comment and Analysis | 23rd April 2012

Trent Bridge’s first Test match between England the West Indies took place in July 1950. It was the third match in a four-game series and began with each side having already gained a victory.

England had triumphed at Old Trafford – despite Alf Valentine’s incredible debut - but at Lord’s it was Trinidad and Tobago’s Sonny Ramadhin who stole the show, claiming match figures of 11-152 to spin his side to a 326 run victory.

England’s difficulties against Valentine persisted also, as he took seven of the other wickets to tumble.

Opener Allan Rae had scored a patient 106 in the first innings for the West Indies but in the second innings it was the much-vaunted middle order that went to work. Clyde Walcott’s 168 not out, backed by Gomez (70), Weekes (63), Worrell (45) left England chasing 601 – a totally unrealistic objective, despite a century from Cyril Washbrook.

"The make-up of the England team meant that for the first time eleven different counties were represented."

And so, with the series intriguingly poised, it was off to Nottingham, with so much at stake for both sides.

After their humbling defeat at ‘The Home of Cricket’ England were forced into making changes and they did so with relish. Out went Hutton, Edrich, Doggart, Wardle and Berry to be replaced by two debutants – Doug Insole, the Essex middle order batsman and medium pacer, plus Derek Shackleton, the Hampshire opening bowler. There were also recalls for Eric Hollies of Warwickshire, John Dewes of Middlesex – and most pleasing for the home supporters, Reg Simpson of Nottinghamshire.

As a statistical aside, the make-up of the England team meant that for the first time eleven different counties were represented.

Simpson had played in the opening match of the summer, at Manchester – but had missed the game at Lord’s. A Trent Bridge century against the tourists, for his county side, Nottinghamshire, must have helped his cause because he was now back for his fifth Test appearance – and his first on home soil.

Yorkshire’s Norman Yardley won the toss for England and elected to bat first but the decision soon backfired as they slumped to 25-4, with the new ball providing Hines Johnson and Frank Worrell – bowling his nippy left-arm seamers – each with a couple of wickets.

A succession of 20s, 30s and 40s from the middle order lifted England to 223 but the West Indies, despite the loss of Jeffrey Stollmeyer, already had 77 on the board by the close of the opening day.

Robert Christiani fell for 10 early the next day, providing Shackleton with his first Test wicket. Allan Rae made 68 but at 238-3 the West Indies were already ahead when Worrell and Weekes joined forces.

Just a month earlier the pair had added 163 on the same ground against Nottinghamshire. This time they kept going well into the third morning by which time they had added 283 in 210 minutes.

Worrell was eventually dismissed for 261, a score that remains as the highest ever hit on the ground by an overseas player in Test cricket. Everton Weekes contribution was 129 but then the tail collapsed spectacularly as the last seven wickets fell for just 37 runs, with Bedser’s 48 over shift being rewarded with figures of 5-127.

Batting again, 335 behind, England needed a good start – and by golly, they got one!

Washbrook and Simpson remained together for more than five hours in adding 212 for the first wicket, a record against the West Indies. Both men then fell in quick succession – Washbrook for 10 and Simpson, tragically, run out for 94.

Parkhouse, Dewes and Evans all passed fifty as England showed they had the stomach for a fight. They batted for 245.2 overs in reaching 436 with the bowling figures of the two principle spinners worth examining closely:

A Valentine 92-49-140-3
S Ramadhin 81.2-25-135-5 

Needing 102 to take the lead in the series, openers Rae and Stollmeyer were still together when the total was reached in the 37th over.

A ten-wicket victory was not a bad way for the West Indies to celebrate their first Test appearance at Trent Bridge and improve their already-useful record on the ground. 

The final Test of that 1950 summer was played at the Kennington Oval and Rae and Worrell scored first innings’ hundreds. Len Hutton replied with an unbeaten 202 but England were made to follow-on and fell, again, to the wiles of Valentine, who took 6-39 to make it an innings victory and a 3-1 series win.

Incredibly, eight of the tour party (Weekes, Worrell, Walcott, Stollmeyer, Rae, Marshall, Gomez and Christiani) all scored more than 1,000 first class runs on the trip, with Everton Weekes 2310 including seven centuries!

Despite plenty of good support performances, the two stand-out bowlers were the spin twins, Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine.

Sonny – the right arm wrist spinner from Trinidad and Tobago took 135 wickets, whilst the Jamaican slow left armer bagged 123.

Their performances led to celebrations throughout the Caribbean and they were immortalised in the famous song, ‘Victory Calypso’, by Lord Beginner, which featured the lyrics:

“They gave the crowd plenty fun,
Second Test and West Indies won,
With those two little pals of mine.
Ramadhin and Valentine”

ENGLAND V WEST INDIES
(The Trent Bridge Tests)
20, 21, 22, 24, 25 July 1950
England 223 and 436 (Washbrook 102, Simpson 94, Ramadhin 5-135)
West Indies 558 (Worrell 261 Weekes 129, Rae 68, Bedser 5-127) and 103-0 (J Stollmeyer 52 not out, Rae 46 not out)
Result: West Indies won by 10 wickets

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In 2012, England will play three matches at Trent Bridge and our hospitality guests will have the best seats in the house. Limited capacity remains for all days of play with shared facilities and private boxes ready to host you and your guests. Click here for details and pricing.

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England v West Indies - Investec Test at Trent Bridge

England face West Indies in an Investec Test Match at Trent Bridge from Friday 25 May - Tuesday 29 May. Adult tickets cost £35-£50, all under 21s tickets cost £20, under 16s tickets cost £10 (£8 for day four) and family tickets cost £80 (2 adults, 2 under 16s).

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England v West Indies - Natwest International Twenty20 at Trent Bridge

England face West Indies in a Natwest International Twenty20 at Trent Bridge at 2.30pm on Sunday 24 June. Adult tickets cost £25-£45, all under 21s tickets cost £20, under 16s tickets cost £10 and family tickets cost £60 (2 adults, 2 under 16s).

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Read our exclusive West Indies Edition of Covered Magazine here

Clarke's Meadow & The Calypso Kings

Clarke’s Meadow & The Calypso Kings, the new hardback from Dave Bracegirdle, looks at how the West Indies have managed to keep intact a proud record of never having lost a first class fixtureat Trent Bridge and profiles the players who have enjoyed themselves as members of the county club.

Probably more than any other ground outside the Caribbean, Trent Bridge has become synonymous with West Indian success and a long unbeaten run in first class matches, a statistic that will next be tested during the Investec Test Match in June.
 
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Dave Bracegirdle is a broadcaster, sports writer and author who provides ball-by-ball commentary of all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches.

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