Having seen an Antiguan international XI and a Guyanese Test XI earlier, we now look at a Test eleven with a unique twist – the inclusive Caribbean Test XI. This team features only one Test cricketer from each Caribbean cricketing nation, making it a celebration of the different lands and cultures that come together to form the West Indies on the cricket field. Interestingly, the top six in our line-up are left-handed batsmen.
Chris Gayle (Jamaica, 103 Tests from 1999-00 to 2014)
Due to his record-breaking T20 exploits, it is sometimes easy to overlook that Gayle has been one of the best Test openers to come out of the Caribbean. The imposing southpaw logged 7214 runs at 42.18, and is one of only four men to have achieved the remarkable feat of registering two triple tons in Tests – he scored 317 against South Africa at St. John’s in 2004-05, followed by 333 against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2010-11.
Devon Smith (Grenada, 43 Tests from 2002-03 to 2018)
Partnering Gayle at the top is his contemporary Smith, who made his Test debut against Australia at Georgetown in 2002-03. He impressed with 62 in the second innings, but never really got going, finishing with 1760 runs at 23.78. His only Test hundred was a knock of 108 in his fifth Test, against England at Kingston in 2003-04. Another notable effort was a gritty 88 against the Australians at the Gabba in 2005-06.
Brian Lara (Trinidad and Tobago, 131 Tests from 1989-90 to 2006-07)
The ‘Prince of Trinidad’ delighted cricket lovers through his glittering career, which fetched him 11953 runs at 52.88. In 2003-04, he created history with an unprecedented 400* against England at St. John’s, ten years after making 375 against the same team at the same venue. His finest innings was 153* against Australia at Bridgetown in 1998-99, which guided the West Indies to a one-wicket win against the odds.
Keith Arthurton (St. Kitts and Nevis, 33 Tests from 1988 to 1995)
Arthurton was the third player from Nevis to play for the West Indies after Elquemedo Willett and Derick Parry. His first and last Tests were in England, at Headingley and Trent Bridge respectively, as was his final international outing, at the 1999 World Cup. His tally was 1382 runs at 30.71, with a best of 157* against Australia at Brisbane in 1992-93. He was also an excellent cover fielder and a handy left-arm spinner.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (Guyana, 164 Tests from 1993-94 to 2014-15)
Known for his crab-like stance, the tough-as-nails Chanderpaul went on to become the West Indies’ most capped player. In 2002-03, he hit 104 in a record chase of 418 against Australia at St. John’s, while in 2004-05, he scored a career-best 203* against South Africa at Georgetown, in his first Test as captain. Often the lone warrior for his team, he finished with 11867 runs – the second highest for the West Indies – at 51.87.
Garfield Sobers (Barbados, 93 Tests from 1953-54 to 1973-74 – captain)
The honour of leading our eleven goes to the legendary Sobers, who is arguably the greatest all-round cricketer to have graced the game. In 1957-58, he turned his first Test hundred against Pakistan at Kingston into 365*, which was the record for 36 years. His dazzling strokeplay and versatile bowling (he bowled both pace and spin) gave him stellar numbers of 8032 runs at 57.78 and 235 wickets at 34.03 in a 20-year career.
Jahmar Hamilton (Anguilla, one Test in 2019 – wicketkeeper)
Though he has played only one Test, against India at Kingston in 2019, Hamilton makes it on behalf of the British overseas territory of Anguilla. He is only the second man from Anguilla to play for the West Indies after Omari Banks. He made his first-class debut for the Leeward Islands back in 2007-08, when he was 17. Recently, he was named in the West Indian squad for the home Test series against Pakistan.
Daren Sammy (St. Lucia, 38 Tests from 2007 to 2013-14)
Having debuted in ODIs in 2004, Sammy had to wait for three years for his Test bow at Old Trafford – he snared his best haul of 7/66 in the second innings. In 2012, the medium pace-bowling all-rounder hit 106 as captain at Trent Bridge. The first St. Lucian to play for the West Indies, his Test numbers read 1323 runs at 21.68 and 84 wickets at 35.79. He led the Windies to two T20 World Cup titles, in 2012 and 2016.
Winston Davis (St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 15 Tests from 1982-83 to 1987-88)
Davis’ peak clashed with the West Indian heydays of domination through their world-class pace quartet, which meant he ended up playing only 15 Tests in five years, during which he collected 45 wickets at 32.70. A quality right-arm fast bowler in his own right, Davis first played for the West Indies at home against India in 1982-83, and became the first man to take seven wickets in an ODI at the 1983 World Cup.
Curtly Ambrose (Antigua and Barbuda, 98 Tests from 1987-88 to 2000)
The menacing Ambrose was the scourge of many a batsman, as a Test record of 405 wickets at 20.99 attests. The great paceman reserved his best for England – he took 164 wickets at 18.79 against them, with his 8/45 at Bridgetown in 1989-90 and 6/24 at Port-of-Spain in 1993-94 being the most memorable. Another defining spell was a stunning burst of 7 for 1 in 32 balls en route to 7/25, against Australia at Perth in 1992-93.
Shane Shillingford (Dominica, 16 Tests from 2010 to 2014)
Our team is rounded off by Shillingford, who is among the few Dominicans to have represented the West Indies. The off-spinner arrived on the Test scene a decade after his first-class debut, but frequently faced issues with his action during his time at the highest level. His 70 scalps were taken at 34.55 apiece, with two ten-wicket match hauls (against Australia in 2011-12 and Zimbabwe in 2012-13) on home soil at Roseau.