Sir Everton Weekes passed away very recently (July 1). Condolences and obituaries have been pouring down from all over the cricketing world. Everyone who knew him was saddened surely, but most chose to celebrate his life rather than mourn his departure. And a life worth celebrating it was!
Apart from being one third of the famous "Three Ws", Weekes held many great records. A prolific run-getter of his era, Everton de Courcy Weekes amassed 4,455 runs from 48 Tests with an astonishing average of 58.61 and over 12 thousand runs in first-class cricket. His most famous feat was the record of scoring five consecutive Test match centuries, last of which he hit in January 1949. The record still stands strong after 71 years.
The first of those five centuries was also his first at the Test arena and in his debut series. Weekes began playing for the West Indies at the tender age of 22 and started with a string of low scores against England in 1948. In that home series his first five scores were 35, 25, 36, 20 and 36 in the first three matches. But he turned it around in the fourth Test as he scored a 141 - his first Test ton. No one ever presumed that it was the beginning of something really special.
But for his next Test century - Weekes now assured of his place in the Test side - had to wait for almost 10 months. West Indies were scheduled to tour the subcontinent in October for a five match Test series against India. Before the Test series began in November, the Caribbean side played two first class matches against Pakistan in Karachi and Lahore, both ending in a draw.
Weekes carried his form from the last Test he played in Jamaica to the first match he played in India. In the series opener in Delhi, he batted number seven and on a belter of a pitch, joined his teammates in the run fest. He was the fourth West Indian batsman to get a hundred in that innings. So his 128 runs went fairly unnoticed. They were all-out for 631 and that was the only innings that the Windies batted.
In the second match in Mumbai however, he was able to catch everyone's attention with a blistering 194. He was promoted to bat at number 4 after his hundred in the previous match. He kept on mauling the Indian attack and was the last batsman to be dismissed. The visitors declared on 629/6, and they did not bat again in the match. Everton Weekes now had two centuries in two innings.
In the third Test the West Indies, luckily for Weekes, batted twice and the prolific right-hander registered a hundred in both innings. In Kolkata, the visitors batted first and were all out for 366, with Weekes scoring 162. In Reply, India were bundled out for 272. In their second innings the West Indies declared on 369 for 9, with Weekes scoring 101. It was his fifth ton in five innings.
An unprecedented cricketing event then and somehow the record still stands. But Weekes could have added another one, had he not been given run out on 90, under controversial circumstances in the next Test in Madras (now Chennai). Remember the time was 1949, and there were no TV umpires or any such technologies.
"I thought the (square-leg umpire's) decision was a very bad one. But in the game of cricket, I suppose, the element of decision-making would not always depend on the right result. I don't think there is any dishonesty attached to it," Weekes later told Wisden in an interview.
He added one more fifty to his caddy before the series ended. In total Weekes accumulated 779 runs with an average of 111.28. Weekes and the West Indies went on to play Ceylon Cricket Team (Now Sri Lanka) after their tour of India ended in February. Weekes continued with his run scoring form and came up with another three digit innings in Colombo. But as Ceylon was a non-Test playing nation at that time, those matches were considered as first-class games.
While his run-scoring prowess was never under question, Weekes' career was marred by muscle injuries in the late 1950s. He retired in 1958 at the age of 33. His record of five consecutive Test hundreds is yet to be broken. His Test career average of 58.61 is the second best amongst West Indians and tenth amongst all the Test playing nations.