Five days that changed the cricketing world

The Lord's Test, which begins on Thursday, marks the 45th anniversary of the West Indies' first Test victory in England. Norman Harris spoke to the two men who fashioned a historic win
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Most of us can only imagine what it was like at Lord's in those last days of June 45 years ago. Little West Indian spinners wheeling away over after over. English batsmen pushing tentatively forward ball after ball, frequently off-balance, sometimes stumbling to their knees.

Each time the bails flew, just a little pat on the back for the smiling bowler and a quiet "well bowled" - until in the end, when England's last batsman had been bowled out, and the visitors' first Test win in England had been gained by no less than 326 runs, their soberly dressed supporters at last exploded with joy and raced forward to dance and sing on the sacred turf. Calypso cricket had been born, and a legend created for "those two pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine".

It is strange, now, to think of the two as gauche novices, which is what they were when the tour started. Both were then just 20, and both had played just two first-class matches. They knew only a couple of their teammates.

Ramadhin was even given two ficticious initials (K.T.) by an English journalist. Both bowled with their sleeves buttoned down. One wore a cap and one had spectacles taped to the side of his head.

Truly, they were the spin twins. Valentine, the left-armer, was a big spinner of the ball, ripping his finger across the seam so severely that soaking the finger in hot water became a nightly ritual. "Oh, yes," he recalled this weekend," the ball would break from leg stump to first slip on a helpful wicket." But with a captain who insisted on good length above spin, Valentine's control and flight also gained him wickets through frustration. Indeed, his best - and most surprising - wicket of the Lord's Test came when England's best batsman, Hutton, jumped down the wicket and was easily stumped.

"I think I used to annoy him," Valentine said. "I was always smiling. He thought I was smirking."

No such objection could be levelled at Ramadhin, with his permanently grave features - shaded by that cap which, it is said, he used to touch to give clues to his wicketkeeper.

Entirely self-taught, he evidently picked up quite unconsciously a grip which enabled his small fingers to flick the ball with off or leg-break spin that was almost impossible to distinguish.

"As a youngster," he said, "I knew I was bowling leg breaks and off-breaks but I didn't know I was disguising them."

"He was the first really unfathomable bowler," said Tom Graveney, one of many Test batsmen who admitted - along with Ram's own wicketkeeper - to not being able to pick him. The best batsman just guessed and groped.

But one who did better than most in that Lord's Test was Washbrook. His hundred occupied five and a half hours. Then, resuming on the last morning, he faced Ramadhin. After several consecutive maidens, he was bowled with a leg-break of yorker length that the bowler remembers as his best wicket of the Test.

"My leg break was a bit quicker," Ramadhin said, "and sometimes batsmen played back to it. But my plan really was just to bowl straight, bowl a length, keep them guessing and bowl 'em down. Just bowl 'em down."

Valentine uses the same phrase when talking about a partner whose demeanour at the crease was more serious than his own. "He just wanted to bowl them wickets down," Valentine said. "He was business: wickets, wickets, wickets."

They were room-mates on tour, and pals of a sort, but there was keen rivalry. "If you saw a batsman with a weakness," Valentine recalled, "you'd better be sure to get him before Sonny did. I might have got all 10 in one Test, but he didn't give me no chance for 10."

Together, the two were almost mesmeric, and gripped the attention of the whole world, a force rarely equalled in Test cricket by any two bowlers, slow or fast. And to us, today, their figures are almost unbelievable.

To put these into context, we might look to the Test in last winter's Ashes series in which England endured the greatest volume of slow bowling - at Brisbane, where England's match aggregate (167 and 323) was just a little higher than Lord's in 1950 (151 and 274).

In Brisbane, Warne and May bowled a total of 124 overs, 48 of which were maidens. At Lord's, Valentine and Ramadhin bowled 231 overs, 145 of them maidens - and Ramadhin and Valentine shared 18 wickets.

For both of them, it was their greatest hour, though they also keenly remember the famous tied Test of 1960. "We had heard so much about Lord's, and about Queen and King. Lord's has to be No 1. That definitely was the greatest."

They will be back this week, for the highlight of the 1995 benefit year that has been organised for them. But the Test they watch will be different in many ways from that which was perhaps the apogee of the Age of Innocence.

Valentine remembers that there was champagne in the dressing room. But both youngsters, then teetotallers, drank soda pop. Valentine also remembers that he then went off, in the afternoon, to see London Zoo.

LORD'S SCOREBOARD 1950

WEST INDIES - First Innings

A F Rae c and b Jenkins 106

J B Stollmeyer lbw b Wardle 20

F M M Worrell b Bedser 52

E de C Weekes b Bedser 63

C L Walcott st Evans b Jenkins 14

G E Gomez st Evans b Jenkins 1

R J Christiani b Bedser 33

*J D C Goddard b Wardle 14

P E Jones c Evans b Jenkins 0

S Ramadhin not out 1

A L Valentine c Hutton b Jenkins 5

Extras (b10 lb5 w1 nb1) 17

Total (131.2 overs) 326

Fall: 1-37 2-128 3-233 4-262 5-273 6-274 7-320 8-320 9-320.

Bowling: Bedser 40-14-60-3; Edrich 16-4-30-0; Jenkins 35.2-6-116-5; Wardle 17-6-46-2; Berry 19-7-45-0; Yardley 4-1-12-0.

ENGLAND - First Innings

L Hutton st Walcott b Valentine 35

C Washbrook st Walcott b Ramadhin 36

W J Edrich c Walcott b Ramadhin 8

G H G Doggart lbw b Ramadhin 0

W G A Parkhouse b Valentine 0

*N W D Yardley b Valentine 16

T G Evans b Ramadhin 8

R O Jenkins c Walcott b Valentine 4

J H Wardle not out 33

A V Bedser b Ramadhin 5

R Berry c Goddard b Jones 2

Extras (b2 lb1 w1) 4

Total (106.4 overs) 151

Fall: 1-62 2-74 3-74 4-75 5-86 6-102 7-110 8-113 9-122.

Bowling: Jones 8.4-2-13-1; Worrell 10-4-20-0; Valentine 45-28-48-4; Ramadhin 43-27-66-5.

WEST INDIES - Second Innings

A F Rae b Jenkins 24

J B Stollmeyer b Jenkins 30

F M M Worrell c Doggart b Jenkins 45

E de C Weekes run out 63

*J D C Goddard c Evans b Jenkins 11

C L Walcott not out 168

G E Gomez c Edrich b Bedser 70

R J Christiani not out 5

Extras (lb8 nb1) 9

Total (for 6 dec, 178 overs) 425

Fall: 1-48 2-75 3-108 4-146 5-199 6-410.

Bowling: Bedser 44-16-80-1; Edrich 13-2-37-0; Jenkins 59-13-174-4; Wardle 30-10-58-0; Berry 32-15-67-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

L Hutton b Valentine 10

C Washbrook b Ramadhin 114

W J Edrich c Jones b Ramadhin 8

G H G Doggart b Ramadhin 25

W G A Parkhouse c Goddard

b Valentine 48

*N W D Yardley c Weekes b Valentine 19

T G Evans c Rae b Ramadhin 2

R O Jenkins b Ramadhin 4

J H Wardle lbw b Worrell 21

A V Bedser b Ramadhin 0

R Berry not out 0

Extras (b16 lb7) 23

Total (191.3 overs) 274

Fall: 1-28 2-57 3-140 4-218 5-228 6-238 7-245 8-248 9-258.

Bowling: Jones 7-1-22-0; Worrell 22.3-9-39-1; Valentine 71-47-79-3; Ramadhin 72-43-86-6; Gomez 13-1-25-0; Goddard 6-6-0-0.

West Indies won by 326 runs

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