Garfield Sobers and Everton Weekes played international cricket together for just four years; donned the whites in 19 Tests. But they were friends for life.
Keeping aside all their on-field seriousness, the two friends had a good laugh every time they met. Even after retirement, they would watch cricket together, enjoy sessions of dominoes -- a popular game in the Caribbeans -- and share jokes. That’s how their friendship blossomed over the last six decades.
So, as the news of Weekes’ demise broke on Wednesday, it took Sobers some time to come to terms with the fact that his ‘old friend Everton’ was no more. Old pals from across the world got in touch with Sobers to walk down the memory lane, and it was an emotional moment for the West Indies legend.
“He was certainly a great player. He helped West Indies and world cricket tremendously,” Sobers told Sportstar from his home in Barbados on Thursday.
During his playing days for the West Indies, Weekes, alongside Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell, formed a formidable batting unit. In his decade-long Test career, Weekes scored 15 centuries and is the only player to score tons in five consecutive Test innings.
Even after hanging up his boots, Weekes continued his association with the game as a commentator, ICC match official and also played a key role in nurturing young talents from Barbados. “He did a tremendous job with Barbados in terms of coaching, bringing out youngsters and getting them into West Indies cricket…” Sobers said.
His love for the game drove him to scout youngsters and help them in every possible way. “Even in these times, he was always willing to talk (about cricket) and was always the first one to help out people. He was a great man, who will be missed a lot by a lot of people,” Sobers added.
By the time Sobers broke into the West Indies team, Weekes had already played at the highest level for six years. But they soon became close friends.
“I played with Everton in my early days, but not a tremendous amount of cricket. When I went in at the age of 16-17, Everton was getting done a bit then. He was practically getting ready to… (even though) he played about a few years after that (Weekes played his last Test against Pakistan in 1958). So, I did not have the opportunity of playing a lot with him….”
With both hailing from Barbados, Sobers remembers spending most of the time with Weekes in those days. “I talked to him a lot. We were together for a lot of time. We played dominoes and those things. He was a great player, a wonderful person.”
While he has fond memories of Weekes, Sobers rues that not many inquired about the legend when he was alive. Be it the people from the cricketing circles or the media. “When he was alive no one called to find out how was Sir Everton doing? Or how’s he getting on. Then nobody wanted to know, now everyone wants to know his story…” he said.
“He was someone who you could share a joke with. He was one of those people. I am going to miss him tremendously,” he said. “But we will all have to go that way someday. This was his turn…”
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