Obituary: Ken Weekes

KEN "BAM BAM" WEEKES made his name in the last series before the Second World War, the 1939 tour of West Indies to England. He was a left- handed bat and wicket-keeper, broad-chested and hawk-eyed, a prodigious hitter who had first appeared for Jamaica in 1938 and who won his touring place as much because he made a useful deputy for the first-choice keeper Ivan Barrow.

In those days England regarded matches against the West Indies as an opportunity to experiment, rather as England regarded Chile in the football match at Wembley the week before last.

Weekes was among four West Indians who made their debuts in the first Test, over three days at Lord's, while England named such fringe players as Arthur Wood and Harold Gimblett and gave a first cap to the Derbyshire fast bowler Bill Copson.

Weekes scored 20 and 16, not enough in a flaky order that was over-dependent upon George Headley, to keep his place. Headley became the first player to score a century in each innings of a Lord's Test yet his team lost by eight wickets after Hutton and Compton had added 248 for the fourth England wicket in not much more than two hours.

Weekes thus missed the Manchester Test, which was drawn, but, having scored 146 against Surrey at the Oval he was recalled for the last Test, at the Surrey ground.

Walter Keeton, of Nottinghamshire, another England experiment, had the misfortune to be bowled first ball, by Tyrell Johnson, but England's score of 352 was looking handsome when West Indies slumped to 164-4.

Weekes appeared, nervously, but 11 in one over from Reg Perks, another trialist, settled his eye. With Vic Stollmeger he added 163 in 156 minutes, 50 runs came off the first four overs of the new ball, Perks being hit for another 21 in one over, high into the deep. West Indies drew the match, Weekes never played in Test cricket again, thus retiring with with a dazzling batting average of 57.

His career average, playing his last game for Jamaica in 1948, was a more realistic but neverthless worthy 40. He afterwards returned to his native United States and spent his later days working in New York. Weekes paid little attention to the coaching manual and his stance was once described bg Douglas Jardine as "insolent".

He was born in America, of a Barbadian father and Jamaican mother and had he arrived 80 years later, a southpaw batter of such prowess, Ken Weekes would have signed for the Yankees and died a multi- millionaire.

Derek Hodgson

Kenneth Hunnell Weekes, cricketer: born 24 January 1912; married (six children); died New York 9 February 1998.

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