Dattajirao Gaekwad is the only living Indian cricketer to have played against the immortal ‘Three Ws’ of West Indies cricket.
A compact batsman and a brilliant fielder, Dattajirao, who captained India in 1959 and is the father of former India opener Aunshuman Gaekwad, was part of the Indian team that toured the West Indies in 1953. Now 92, his memory still sharp, Dattajirao spoke about Everton Weekes, who passed away recently.
Dattajirao told The Hindu, “India had a good attack. We had Dattu Phadkar, Vinoo Mankad and Subhash Gupte. But the West Indians were formidable with the three Ws. In particular, Weekes had an insatiable appetite for runs.”
On Weekes’ batting, Dattajirao said, “Even against the great Subhash Gupte, who had a vicious leg-break, a deceptive googly, and plenty of variations in flight, Weekes would stay inside the crease and take runs off him. He rarely stepped out. He was an organised player against both pace and spin.”
In the first Test of that series, in Port of Spain, Weekes came up with an innings of 207.
Dattajirao said, “One thing I noticed was that he wanted to get off the mark immediately. A couple of times I tried to run him out from covers but missed narrowly. I remember him giving me a menacing look. He loved to square-drive on one knee. That was his favourite shot. And it was very attractive.”
Turning to the West Indian batting line-up, Dattajirao noted, “You had Allan Rae and skipper Jeffery Stollmeyer opening the innings. Then arrived the three Ws. Frank Worrell at No. 3, Weekes at 4 and Clyde Walcott at No. 5. The Ws symbolised West Indian cricket.”
Delving deeper into their methods, Dattajirao said, “Worrell was the most stylish of the lot, Weekes was a run machine. Both rarely hit sixes. All their strokes would be along the ground. But Walcott was different, He was the hardest hitter. Hit big sixes.”
At a personal level, Dattajirao found Worrell easy to interact with. “He was a classy man. We became good friends.”
When Dattajirao returned from that tour he brought back a treasure trove of memories. On top of the list was duelling it out with the three Ws.