One of the all-time greats of the game, Sir Everton Weekes had a short international career, but it was filled with a number of remarkable feats.
In the pantheon of Windies legends, Weekes’ average of 58.61 from 48 matches is only behind that of George Headley’s 60.83, putting him fifth on the all-time global list among those who’ve played at least 25 Tests.
As one of the remarkable ‘Three Ws’, along with Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell, who together struck 39 Test centuries, he played an important hand in a period that marked the rising dominance of West Indies cricket.
“In the fading days of British colonialism, all three broke the long-standing racial barrier of a sport always held as a badge of excellence by the islands of the cricketing Caribbean,” wrote the late Tony Cozier in ESPNcricinfo to mark the batsman's 90th birthday.
The troika of Ws, all from Barbados, similarly aged, born within a few miles of one another, and making their debut in the 1948 series against England, were a force on and off the field. They remained close friends throughout, fighting homesickness while playing county cricket in England with meet-ups for piano and jazz.
Of the trio, Weekes was the top scorer in Tests, compiling 4,455 runs with 15 hundreds. In all first-class cricket, he had 12,010 runs.
He had the unique distinction of being the only cricketer with centuries in five consecutive Test innings. It began with his maiden century, a 141 at home against England, and continued on a tour of India, which was only his second series.
This might have well been six, had he not been run out in Madras (now Chennai) on 90, in a decision he called "rather doubtful". Still, his seven half-centuries in a row was a first, with Andy Flower (2000), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (2006-07), Kumar Sangakkara (2014), Chris Rogers (2014) and KL Rahul (2017) since matching the record.
“Making runs is a habit,” he once told Cozier. “Why not enjoy it when you get into that habit, for there'll come a time, once you play long enough, that you'll lose that habit.”
His glut of runs makes him the joint fastest to 1,000 Test runs, along with Herbert Sutcliffe, having taken 12 innings to get there. In his time, he was also the Windies’ highest run-getter in Tests, until Sir Garry Sobers surpassed him in 1966. Several others have since gone past them.
Born Everton de Courcy Weekes on 26 February 1925, he was raised in difficult circumstances by his mother. Named by his father after the English football club, he even played football for Barbados.
His association with cricket began at the Kensington Oval, where he assisted the groundsmen. Denied membership of the whites-only Pickwick Club that occupied the ground and unable to afford the entry fees, this was his only way to get in and watch international players in action.
Weekes made his first-class debut for Barbados just before turning 20, marking his debut with a duck – Worrell had 255* and Walcott 314* that match. However, he got his maiden half-century in the following game.
His Test debut came at 22, against England. Batting at No.3, an unimpressive start led to him being dropped after the first three Tests, but, coming in as a last-minute injury replacement in the fourth, he began his long dalliance with tall scores.
In fact, trouble with his plane meant he was late joining the team for that match. “When I came on, I was booed all the way. The substitute who came off was JK Holt, a Jamaican favourite. Next day, the same crowd came on to the field to lift me off after I got my hundred," he remembered.
Following the tour of India, he excelled in England, where the Windies took a series win. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1951 for a season that included 304* against the University of Cambridge in a tour game. His top Test score of 207 came against India in Port of Spain in 1952-53.
Weekes was often compared to the great Don Bradman, not least for being a hard-hitting, attacking batsman who was able to keep the scorecard ticking. “He was a fierce hooker, puller and square-cutter, but at the same time, a terrific driver," Richie Benaud said of him.
However, he struck only one six in his career, which he said was because of a childhood growing up afraid of breaking glass windows and having the balls confiscated.
Weekes was also considered an excellent fielder, and even once wrote a manual called ‘Aspects of Fielding’.
A thigh injury precipitated the end of his international career in 1958. He played his last first-class match in 1964, passing 12,000 first-class runs in that final innings.
Following his retirement, he served as coach, manager and International Cricket Council match referee. A champion bridge player, he reportedly spent his time watching cricket and enjoyed cooking for himself.
He was honoured with a knighthood in 1995. In January 2009, he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.