Today, I join Barbadians, West Indians and the rest of the cricketing world in saying farewell to a legend of the game, Sir Everton DeCourcy Weekes, just four and a half years shy of what would have been his final century in life.
Sir Everton, the last remaining member of the world-famous Three Ws, now joins his partners Sir Frank Worrell, who departed us in 1967, and Sir Clyde Walcott, who played his final innings in 2006, in history’s Pantheon of true gentlemen who indeed made cricket the “sport of gentlemen”.
Sir Everton is sure to live on in memory as one to emulate. Born into genuinely humble circumstances in Pickwick Gap on the outskirts of Bridgetown in 1925, a stone’s throw from Kensington Oval, he never allowed his beginning to define his life or success.
He left school at the age of 14 with no academic qualifications to boast about, and with no job, most of his time was spent playing football and cricket.
Indeed, although his cricketing skills were starting to show, particularly as a teenage member of Westshire Cricket Club, in the Barbados Cricket League, he also intended to move beyond that.
His early interaction with the world-renowned Oval and the all-white Pickwick Cricket Club that was based there was assisting the groundsmen in preparing the field, but by the closing of his career representing Barbados and the West Indies as a batsman extraordinaire, he had distinguished himself, not only at Kensington but on all of the game’s most recognised pitches around the world.
Sir Everton represented Barbados from 1944 until 1964, the West Indies from 1948 until 1958, and recorded a distinguished career of league cricket in England.
His name will forever be associated with the scoring of boundaries along the ground, ensuring that the scoring of those runs did not expose him to getting out.
Absolute brilliance and genius! For this most significant contribution to the game he was awarded the country’s highest honour, the Knight of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, in 1995.
How’s that for the boy from the outskirts of “de Orleans”, who, when he came into this world his parents “did not have two cents to rub together”, according to him.
Sir Everton, for me, was one of the most brilliant men that I have met as a Barbadian, with a turn of phrase and humour second to none.
His life story represents the best of the Bajan journey – committed and confident, stylish and classy, dignified and urbane to the very end; a global citizen with Bajan roots.
On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, I salute Sir Everton as a true representation of the Barbadian can-do spirit; as a perfect example of perseverance over adversity; the embodiment of what our country requires today to beat back the bouncers of COVID-19, climate change and the economic inequality that we face day after day from rich and powerful nations.
To his family and the family of Empire Cricket Club, that more than a century old oasis on Bank Hall, where his heart was sustained for decades, I express deepest condolences.