Throughout the 70s and 80s, West Indies cricket team terrorised the world cricket with their fast bowlers and stroke players and England were one of the biggest sufferers who at one stage lost 10 consecutive test matches against them. But in the 40s and 50s West Indies were not that strong and England were expected to get comfortable wins against them. But it all changed with the 1950 Lord’s test. And it came from two very very slow bowlers.
When West Indies toured England in 1950 under the captain John Goddard their two hidden weapons were two young mystery bowlers. Before the tour, both Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine had played two first-class matches each. The spin twin made their duo in the first test of the series at Old Trafford which England won but in the second test, the scene was different.
On 24th June, West Indies won the toss and put up 326 in their first innings, thanks to Allan Rae’s 106. England started their innings comfortably as Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook added 62 for the first wicket. But the introduction of Ramadhin and Valentine saw a collapse. Both the slow bowlers were extremely accurate and gave nothing away as England limped to 151. The spinners figure read, Valentine 45-28-48-4 and Ramadhin 43-27-66-5.
In the West Indies second innings, Clyde Walcott played a brutal inning of 168. It was one of the best innings played at Lord’s that took West Indies to 425/6 before declaring. England got a mammoth target of 601 runs.
This time England showed lots of resistance as Washbrook scored a hundred but still could do nothing to Valentine and Ramadhin. Valentine bowled 71 overs for 79 runs and took three wickets whereas Ramadhin bowled 72 overs for 86 runs and six wickets. The win by 326 runs was completed on 29th June 1950.
The match figures for the duo was, Valentine: 116-75-127-7 (the 75 maidens are still the most maiden in a Test match record), and Ramadhin: 115-70-152-11 and started a glorious phase for West Indies. They won the series 3-1 and became a very popular team.