Trinidad and Tobago observes its 59th Independence Day on 31st August. To mark the occasion in a cricketing context, here’s presenting an all-time Trinidadian Test XI, formed from among Trinidadian players who have represented the West Indies in men’s Test cricket.
Jeffrey Stollmeyer (32 Tests from 1939 to 1954-55)
Stollmeyer was a key part of the West Indian team that triumphed in England in 1950 – he totalled 305 runs at 50.83, forming a solid opening stand with Allan Rae. He made his debut as an 18-year-old at Lord’s in 1939 (the last series before the war-induced hiatus) and scored 59 in his first innings. The first of his four hundreds was a career-best 160 against India at Madras in 1948-49. In all, he collected 2159 runs at 42.33.
Darren Bravo (56 Tests from 2010-11 to 2020-21)
Though he has opened only once in Tests (scoring 43 against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2016-17), the left-handed Bravo is the second opener in our team for the sake of balance. He has been in and out of the Test side in the past few years, having scored 3538 runs at 36.47 so far. His highest of 218 came while the West Indies followed on 396 in arrears against New Zealand at Dunedin in 2013-14, and was crucial in securing a draw.
Brian Lara (131 Tests from 1990-91 to 2006-07 – captain)
The ‘Prince of Trinidad’ delighted cricket lovers throughout 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.
Larry Gomes (60 Tests from 1976 to 1986-87)
Gomes’ Test career coincided with the West Indies’ all-conquering era, during which he accumulated 3171 runs at 39.63. He reserved his best for Australia, against whom he averaged 56.10 (70.33 in Australia) and scored six of his nine centuries, including a fine 127 in an innings victory on a spicy pitch at Perth in 1984-85. His highest score was 143 at Edgbaston in 1984, which set the tone for the West Indies’ 5-0 clean sweep.
Charlie Davis (15 Tests from 1968-69 to 1972-73)
Davis first played for the West Indies at Melbourne in 1968-69. Few months later, he notched his maiden Test hundred in his third Test with 103 at Lord’s. His peak was the 1970-71 home series against India, in which he logged 529 runs at 132.25. In 1971-72, he achieved his best of 183 against New Zealand at Bridgetown. However, he perplexingly fell off the selectors’ radar soon after, and ended up with 1301 runs at 54.20.
Gerry Gomez (29 Tests from 1939 to 1953-54)
The all-rounder’s spot is taken by Gomez, whose Test numbers read 1243 runs at 30.31 and 58 wickets at 27.41. Like Stollmeyer, he made his debut as a teenager on the 1939 England tour. His only Test century came batting at number five, against India at Delhi in 1948-49. He often used his medium pace to good effect, and bagged his best innings and match hauls (7/55 and 10/113) against Australia at Sydney in 1951-52.
Deryck Murray (62 Tests from 1963 to 1980 – wicketkeeper)
The gloveman for our team is Murray, who made an immediate impact with 24 dismissals – still a West Indian record – as a 20-year-old in his very first series, in England in 1963. Keeping wicket to the likes of Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Andy Roberts, and Joel Garner, he snared 189 dismissals (181 catches and eight stumpings). He was also handy with the bat, scoring 1993 runs at 22.90 with a best of 91 at Bombay in 1974-75.
Ian Bishop (43 Tests from 1988-89 to 1997-98)
Had it not been for persistent back injuries, the 6’5’’ tall Bishop would have had finished with a lot more than his 161 wickets at 24.27. In his second Test, against India at Bridgetown in 1988-89, he took eight wickets including 6/87 in the first innings. His best innings display of 6/40 as well as his best match return of 8/57 came in the same Test, at Perth in 1992-93. Today he is one of the most popular television commentators.
Tony Gray (Five Tests in 1986-87)
One of the most talented fast bowlers to emerge out of Trinidad, Gray played only five Tests due to injuries and the fierce competition for places in the West Indian eleven. He took 14 wickets at 16.21 in his first series in Pakistan, followed by eight wickets in New Zealand, giving him a total of 22 wickets at 17.13. He had his best return of 4/39 in his debut innings at Faisalabad, even as the West Indies collapsed to defeat.
Sonny Ramadhin (43 Tests from 1950 to 1960-61)
The West Indies’ maiden series win in England in 1950 will always be known for the performances of the debutant spin twins Alf Valentine and Ramadhin. Off-spinner Ramadhin, aged 21, took 26 wickets at 23.23. In the historic second Test at Lord’s, he captured his best haul of 11/152 (5/66 and 6/86). His best innings return of 7/49 was also against England, at Edgbaston in 1957. He finished with 158 wickets at 28.98 each.
Shannon Gabriel (55 Tests from 2012 to 2020-21)
The second active player in our eleven, Gabriel has been a vital cog in the West Indian pace bowling attack in the last few years. He made his debut at Lord’s in 2012, and has so far taken 159 wickets at 31.66. In 2018, he became only the third West Indian to take 13 wickets in a Test with figures of 13/121 against Sri Lanka at Gros Islet – his 8/62 in the second innings are the best figures by a West Indian paceman in the last 30 years.