Obituary: Monty Williams

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THE CRICKETER Monty Williams was nicknamed "Boogles" in his native Barbados, in tribute to the dexterity of his quickish leg breaks and googlies. He was also a good enough right-hand batsman to be classed as an all-rounder but it was as a teacher, diplomat and ambassador that he was able to make a major contribution to his home island and to the West Indies.

As a young all-rounder, from a family of 10 children, he was bright enough to gain a college education before being chosen, aged 24, for the 1950 tour of England. At the time he was ranked before two tyro spinners, Alfie Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin. The rest, as they say, is history. Ramadhin and Valentine became "those two little pals of mine" in cricket's most famous calypso as they bowled West Indies to their first Test victory and first series win in England.

In a team that also contained Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, it is not surprising that Williams became one of the forgotten men of that touring party, which also included Ken Trestrail, hailed as the "Boy Wonder" before the tour, and Roy Marshall, who was later to win fame with Hampshire.

Williams was thus confined to a supporting role. "He achieved one or two good performances with his leg breaks and frequent googlies but inevitably lacked chances to run into all-round form. He was a better batsman than his figures suggest," wrote Peter West.

Williams's outstanding performance was a 7-55, off 32 overs, in MCC's second innings at Lord's, against an MCC batting order containing Reg Simpson, Jack Robertson, Bill Edrich and Norman Yardley. "There was much promise about the varied spin of Williams . . . who stayed in England in order to go to Durham University," commented Wisden.

After a year at Durham, Williams took an education degree at Oxford and returned home to play for Barbados, to teach at Harrison College and to join the Board of the Barbados Cricket Association. In 1954 he joined the civil service on a fast track, rising to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education by 1958.

After two years on a scholarship at New College, Oxford, he became in turn High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador to the United States and High Commissioner to the UK, retiring into business in 1979. He was appointed OBE in 1963 and made a Companion of Honour of Barbados in 1982. He was a music lover, especially of organ music and is rememberd by Bajans for his modesty and integrity.

Cecil Beaumont Williams, diplomat and cricketer: born Barbados 8 March 1926; OBE 1963; married 1952 Dorothy Marshall (two sons, one daughter); died Pickering, Ontario 20 September 1998.