Holding: Humble Sir Everton was a true gentleman


Michael Holding

Cricket Expert & Columnist

“Bridge was his passion and he spent a lot of time playing it but not with me; I would probably have infuriated him!”

Last Updated: 02/07/20 3:10pm

The 'Three Ws' - Worrell, Weekes and Walcott - at the West Indian Club, London, in April 1957

The 'Three Ws' - Worrell, Weekes and Walcott - at the West Indian Club, London, in April 1957

The ‘Three Ws’ – Worrell, Weekes and Walcott – at the West Indian Club, London, in April 1957

Michael Holding says Sir Everton Weekes was a true gentleman, whose humility and humour lit up so many lives…

Sir Everton was the type of person you’d want to spend many hours with.

He was a gentleman in every respect. I never heard him raise his voice; he always had a smile on his face and was happy to laugh and joke.

Unless you knew in advance of meeting him that he was a great cricketer and that he had done so many great things for the West Indies, you wouldn’t be any the wiser about that part of his life at the end of chatting with him – irrespective of how much time you spent.

Weekes batting for the West Indies during the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on July 22 1950. Weekes batting for the West Indies during the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on July 22 1950.

Weekes batting for the West Indies during the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on July 22 1950.

That’s because Sir Everton never spoke about himself; I can’t remember listening to him talk about a shot or an innings that he played despite his many achievements and to this day I’ve never seen archive footage of him batting – not one shot.

He was a humble man; deep down you knew he was also one who understood the game because of the way he spoke in his time as a radio commentator.

Sometimes you find that former great players speak down to others in a patronising tone, perhaps letting them know that they weren’t worthy of being out there on the field, but that wasn’t Sir Everton’s way.

When he played the game there was no money in it and yet I never heard him say something like ‘these players are making too much money’ even though a lot of people might hold those sentiments.

His humility didn’t come from his background or playing amongst the great players of his era because there were a lot of people who have had a similar upbringing to his and who have played in similar teams who don’t have that quality. It was simply in his DNA.

I spent quite a bit of time with him in Barbados when I used to work on cricket in the Caribbean; I used to go for lunch with him and Wes Hall. There was a little restaurant close to where he stayed and it was just so much fun.

Bridge was his passion; he loved bridge and spent a lot of time playing it. I was never even close to his standard and if I had played with him I would probably have infuriated him!

Worrell (left), and Weekes go out to resume their record-making innings against England at Trent Bridge in 1950 Worrell (left), and Weekes go out to resume their record-making innings against England at Trent Bridge in 1950

Worrell (left), and Weekes go out to resume their record-making innings against England at Trent Bridge in 1950

Growing up, the names of players like Weekes, Worrell and Walcott were mentioned in reverence.

I was a young teenager when Sir Frank died aged only 42 but gradually came to gradually know Sir Everton and Sir Clyde, who managed the West Indies team in the 70s/80s, in the years that followed.

One incidence sticks with me around the time of South Africa’s tour of the Caribbean in 2005.

I refused to work on that series for reasons I won’t get into here but needless to say I’d spoken my mind, as I usually do, and quite a few people didn’t particularly like what I had to say!

I went to a function and Sir Everton was there, and as usual had people around him.

Weekes batting energetically at Kingston against a Club Cricket Conference team, April 28 1950. Weekes batting energetically at Kingston against a Club Cricket Conference team, April 28 1950.

Weekes batting energetically at Kingston against a Club Cricket Conference team, April 28 1950.

I remember walking over and as I approached a few people started looking in my direction and you could see from the expression on their faces they were thinking ‘where is this pariah going?’

I stepped forward and said ‘excuse me, I just wanted to say hello to Sir Everton’. His back was half turned and when he span around and saw me, he said with a broad smile ‘oh Mikey, how are you?’

“I couldn’t see you here and not say hello,” I said and then went to walk away, but before I could he said “it’s good to see you”.

When he smiled it was like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I floated back to my friends.

That’s the type of person he was: a lovely man.

Leave a Reply