Gordon Robinson wrote a letter to the Gleaner on May 17, commenting on various aspects of the history of West Indies cricket and an Errol Townshend in response on May 18, accused him of being a revisionist historian and grossly distorting history. I am not a historian but for me to be convinced by a rebuttal it should present facts and not conjecture and since I am capable of doing a little research, I decided to check a few facts.
Mr. Townshend begins his rebuttal with the statement that “Except when it plucked unheralded Sonny Ramadhin, Alfred Valentine and Garfield Sobers from obscurity, the WICB has not always been a paragon of enlightenment, as Gordon Robinson asserts” but Robinson actually said that “The WICB (formerly WICBC) has never been a paragon of enlightenment or efficiency.” It seems to me that they are both saying the same thing.
Then with respect to Roy Gilchrist, that volatile Jamaican fast bowler of whom many stories abound, Townshend states that it was a regional match in 1961 between Jamaica and Barbados that ended Gilchrist’s test career as opposed to Robinson who said it was the W.I. Board that ended his test career following events that led to Gilchrist being sent home from the 58/59 tour of India. The facts are that after that India/Pakistan tour, England toured the West Indies, with the 1st Test starting on January 6, 1960. Gilchrist did not play in that series which ended on March 31 1960. The West Indies next toured Australia beginning in December 1960 and Gilchrist did not go even though there are reports that Worrell asked for him to be included yet Townshend asserts that a regional match in 1961 is what really ended Gilchrist’s test career in 1960 because he was hammered mercilessly by Conrad Hunte and Cammie Smith and ended with figures of 2 for 177. How could that performance have been the reason he was never again selected to play for the West Indies when there were two test series prior to that match and Gilchrist was omitted from both of those West Indies teams.
With respect to Worrell, Townshend presents what he describes as a more credible view that the real reason why Worrell did not tour India in 1949 was because he left the ground without permission to pick up someone at the airport during his first test match for the West Indies as opposed to Robinson who stated that he did not tour India because he wanted to be paid as a professional. Now Worrell made his debut in the 2nd test against England in the 48/49 England tour of the West Indies. He made 97 and 28 not out and the match was drawn. He then played the 3rd test and made 131 not out and did not bat in the 2nd innings because the match was won by the West Indies. He then played the 4th test and only had to bat in the 1st innings in which he made 38 and the West Indies won that match also and won the 4 match series 2-0. So Worrell’s performance in his debut series was certainly good enough to warrant selection for the next series.
Now I hardly think that Worrell would have left the ground without telling anyone or asking permission but let us assume what I would consider to be a worst case scenario, that he asked permission and did not get it but he went anyway, why would he have been picked for the 3rd test and the 4th test and then omitted from the next series for that offence? And furthermore, why is it more credible that this fairly minor infraction, if indeed that is what it was, was the cause of Worrell not touring India but Gilchrist being sent home from an overseas touring party for what would have been considered as gross indiscipline was not sufficient reason for his never being selected to play for the West Indies again; it had to be his performance in a regional match.
So, where are the gross distortions of West Indies cricket history? I am afraid that Mr. Townshend has failed to substantiate his claim because you cannot correct history with conjecture.