The summer of 1966 saw England’s footballers come out on top of the world. For the cricket team, it was a different matter as a powerful West Indian side arrived on these shores to successfully defend the Wisden Trophy.

Garfield Sobers’ side contained a fiery pair of new ball strike bowlers, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, a world class spinner in Lance Gibbs, a strong batting line-up, plus the all-round brilliance of the captain himself.

Once more, Trent Bridge was listed to host a Test Match – the 3rd in the series of five. Additionally, Nottinghamshire would also face the tourists, in a match played in early season.

Draws at Worcester, where only 92 overs were possible throughout the three days and at The Parks, where Rohan Kanhai made 192 not out against Oxford University, had given the touring side a gentle introduction to their programme.

The county match at Trent Bridge – in theory – should have seen the West Indians approaching their best form ahead of the opening Test match but again, they were thwarted by the rain which washed out the first day.

Sobers was the star performer on the second day, scoring 153 but too much time had been taken out of the game and the inevitable draw ensued.

11,12,13 May 1966
335-7 dec (Sobers 153) and 81-3
Notts 259-6 dec  (Moore 63)
Match Drawn

It was the end of June before the tourists returned to Trent Bridge to face England in the 3rd Test match.

They arrived holding a one-nil lead in the series after an Innings victory at Old Trafford, where Hunte and Sobers scored hundreds on the way to a total of 484, which was more than enough as Lance Gibbs collected five wickets in each innings to spin the home side to defeat.

MJK Smith, of Warwickshire, had captained England in the opening match of the rubber but was then replaced by Colin Cowdrey for the second Test at Lord’s. The home side also brought in Basil D’Oliveira, Worcestershire’s South African born all-rounder, for his debut.

England managed to secure a first innings lead of 86 but it wasn’t enough as the tourists then compiled a second innings score of 369-5 declared in their second innings, with the foundation an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 274 between Sobers (163 not out) and his cousin, Davd Holford, who scored an unbeaten 105 in just his second Test match.

Colin Milburn then scored his first international century before the game was closed out as a draw.

Seymour Nurse scored 155 against Essex at Southend in the one fixture squeezed in before the Third Test, where England again introduced a new face, with Kent’s left arm spinner Derek Underwood coming in for the first time. No doubt Cowdrey, his county captain, had backed his claim for a place.

The opening day produced thirteen wickets, with the West Indies shot out for 235, with John Snow and Ken Higgs each taking four wickets. The day ended strongly for the visitors though, as they picked up the wickets of Milburn, Boycott and Russell with only 13 runs on the board.

Wickets were harder to come by on the second day with Tom Graveney assisting his captain towards a fourth wicket partnership of 169.

Graveney made 109 before becoming one of Sobers’ four victims, whilst Cowdrey fell for 96. A lead of 90 at the halfway stage of the contest at least provided England with the thought of being able to square the series.

Those aspirations didn’t last long as the West Indies made the most of ideal batting conditions on the fourth day. Basil Butcher, a stocky and powerful batsman from Guyana, made the highest score of his career – an unbeaten 209. Sobers fine form continued with 94 and both Kanhai and Nurse passed fifty, enabling another declaration at 482-5. Underwood’s debut went wicketless, although he bowled 45 overs in the match – all but two of them in the second innings.

England began the last day on 30-0, needing a further 363 to win. The target proved immaterial because wickets tumbled at regular intervals all day, with Sobers rotating himself, Hall and Griffiths in supporting Lance Gibbs as the home side were dismissed for 253.

Going 2-0 up in the series, with only two more matches to play meant that the Wisden Trophy would be retained whatever happened in the remaining matches.

Winning the series was what concerned Sobers most and he couldn’t have demonstrated that better than by his performance at Headingley in the Fourth Test.

Confirming his ranking as the best all-rounder in world cricket, he turned in a stunning display with both bat and ball.

His 174, racked up in just four hours, complemented by 137 from Nurse, took the West Indies to 500-9 declared and Sobers - the bowler – then took 5-41 and 3-39 as England were walloped by an innings. In fairness, Lance Gibbs also played his part, taking 6-39 in the second innings.

At 3-0 down England would seem to have had little more than pride to play for as the series headed for the Kennington Oval. Looking for the players to show some fight, the selectors ruthlessly rang the changes.

Cowdrey was dropped, losing his place as captain to Brian Close, the sparky Yorkshire skipper. Out also went Colin Milburn, Fred Titmus, ‘keeper Jim Parks and, after just one match, the unfortunate Derek Underwood.

Dennis Amiss of Warwickshire was given a debut, with recalls also for John Edrich, Ray Illingworth and John Murray.

Despite a ton from Kanhai, the West Indies were bundled out for a below par 268. England’s impressive response totalled 527 with Graveney scoring 165 and wicketkeeper Murray proving to be an inspired selection, making 112 batting at number nine.

Whether the tourists had become a little de-mob happy at having already won the series, or whether they were comprehensively outplayed is subjective but any fight they did have disappeared when Sobers was dismissed first ball.

He had enjoyed the most magnificent of summers, scoring 722 runs over the five Tests, with three centuries and an average of 103 but he was undone by a bold piece of captaincy from Close.

Positioning himself on the leg side, just a few feet from the bat, Close instructed John Snow to bang one in short at their greatest adversary. Instinctively, Sobers went for the pull, edged the ball into his body and up, obligingly, into the hands of the England captain.

The remainder of the card folded cheaply, leaving England victorious by an innings. The summer had certainly belonged to the nation’s footballers but the cricket team – although well beaten – had ended the season with a win.


Match Tickets On Sale Now

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).

Click here to buy tickets using our secure online payment system or call 0844 8118711.

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).

Click here to buy tickets using our secure online payment system or call 0844 8118711.

To book hospitality for either fixture, call 0844 8118712.

Read our exclusive West Indies Edition of Covered Magazine here

International Hospitality At Trent Bridge
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. 

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 May.
Click here to order your copy. 

Dave Bracegirdle is a broadcaster, sports writer and author who provides ball-by-ball commentary of all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches.