Mon, Aug 28, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Cricket fans mourn death of Windies great, Walcott

`THREE WS' Sir Clyde Walcott was lauded by former West Indies cricket stars, including fellow 1950s batting great Everton Weekes, following his death on Saturday

AGENCIES , BRIDEGTOWN, BARBADOS

West Indies cricket legend Sir Clyde Walcott died in a Barbados hospital on Saturday at the age of 80. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Walcott was one of the famed "Three Ws" along with Sir Frank Worrell and Everton Weekes who shot to fame in the 1950s.

The trio, who were born within a year of each other in Bridgetown, featured in the emergence of the West Indies as a force in the game after World War II.

He first made his mark in 1945-1946 when, just 20 years old, he added an unbroken 574 for the fourth wicket with his schoolmate, Worrell, for Barbados against Trinidad at Port-of-Spain.

"His contribution to the game all over the globe, and to Barbados and the West Indies, were among the best in the history of the game. It was invaluable," said Rudi Webster, a former manager of the West Indies team.

"He was one of our icons. He was a truly great man," he said.

Walcott was a strong right-handed batsman, steady medium-pace bowler and an occasional wicketkeeper. He scored 3,788 runs, with 15 centuries, in 44 tests for the West Indies from 1948-60. His batting average of 56.68 is 15th in the all-time rankings.

"Clyde had a powerful physique and his batting was based on power and strength," Weekes said. "He hit the ball harder than any of us."

Lance Gibbs, the most successful spin bowler ever produced by West Indies, said of Walcott: "He has been one of our greatest ambassadors."

Walcott kept wicket in 15 tests before back problems forced him to give it up.

"He was a true friend and a great man," Weekes said. "Whenever I batted with him I enjoyed it, and we had some great times together on and off the field. He was a pretty quiet person but would always find time to talk to you and find out what was going on."

Walcott later coached in Barbados and was manager of the West Indies teams that won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979. His time as manager, selector and eventually president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) from the late 1970s through the early 1990s coincided with the most successful period of West Indies cricket, when the team did not lose a test series for 15 years.

In 1993, when he resigned as WICB head to become the International Cricket Council chairman, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for "his services to cricket and cricket administration in the West Indies and internationally."

In the later years of his playing career, his stint as coach and organizer on Guyana's sugar estates inspired the revival of cricket in the South American country. He captained Guyana and was president of the Guyana Cricket Board before returning to Barbados.

Though his health had deteriorated in recent years, Walcott seldom missed a major match in Barbados.

He was born on Jan. 17, 1926, near Kensington Oval -- the oldest cricket stadium in the Caribbean.

Walcott is survived by his wife and son, Michael. Another son, Ian, died before him.

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