This summer, Australia and the West Indies contest the 25th Frank Worrell Trophy.
While Australia has owned Frank since 1995, the trophy was one of the most coveted prizes for over three decades.
Named after Sir Frank Worrell (who played 51 Tests and 208 First Class games from 1941 to 1964), the trophy debuted in the ground-breaking 1960-61 series in Australia.
It started with the famous tie in Brisbane. Set 233, Australia looked certain to lose at 6/92. Alan Davidson (80) and captain Richie Benaud (52) complied 134, meaning Australia needed six runs with four wickets left.
Then it got messy.
Davidson was run out – 7/226.
Benaud was caught by wicketkeeper Gerry Alexander off Wes Hall – 8/228.
Wally Grout and Ian Meckiff tied the scores with two wickets left. Surely Australia would push an easy single and take a 1-0 lead.
Grout and Meckiff were both run out to force the tie.
Australia and the West Indies traded big wins before Ken Mackay and Lindsay Kline forced a draw in Adelaide. Chasing 460, Australia was 9/207 before the pair shared an unbeaten 66. Mackay survived nearly four hours for his 62 not out, while number eleven Kline batted almost two hours for 15 not out. Australia grinded at less than two an over in the second innings, a rate now alien with today’s high scoring rates.
Australia secured the series 2-1 with a two-wicket win at the MCG.
As well as being a captivating series that gave Test cricket some desperately needed spark, it established the Frank Worrell Trophy as a genuine contest.
Australia toured the West Indies from March to May 1965, with the Windies reversing the 2-1 result of four years ago. They won by 179 runs at Kingston (first Test) and 212 runs at Georgetown (third Test). They won Frank Worrell with a draw at Bridgetown before Australia got a consolation 10 wicket win at Port-of-Spain. Sir Conrad Hunte (550 runs at 61.11), Rohan Kanhai (462 runs at 46.20), Basil Butcher (405 runs at 40.50) and Sir Garfield Sobers (352 runs at 39.11) filled their boots, while Lance Gibbs (18 wickets at 30.88), Hall (16 wickets at 28.37), Charlie Griffith (15 wickets at 32) and Sobers (12 wickets at 40.83) took 61 wickets between them.
Australia then began a three-peat from 1968-69.
The West Indies won the opening Test in Brisbane by 125 runs, but the Aussies dominated from there, winning the Boxing Day Test by an innings and 30 runs. Graham McKenzie took 8/71 to dismiss the West Indies for 200. Bill Lawry eclipsed that by himself (205), combining with Ian Chappell (165) as Australia posted 510. Seymour Nurse (74) and captain Sobers (67) provided some resistance as John Gleeson (5/61) spun Australia to victory. Two wins in Sydney, 10 wickets and 382 runs, secured the 3-1 margin.
A successful Caribbean tour in 1973 ended with a 2-0 win. After draws in Kingston and Bridgetown, Australia won by 44 runs at Port-of-Spain and by 10 wickets at Georgetown.
Lead by Jeff Thompson (29 wickets at 28.65) and Dennis Lillee (27 wickets at 26.37), Australia won 5-1 in 1975-76. It was 1-1 heading into the MCG Boxing Day Test. Seven wickets to Lillee and centuries to Gary Cosier and Ian Redpath helped Australia to an eight wicket win. They won in Sydney by seven wickets, by 190 runs in Adelaide and by 165 runs in Melbourne. It was this humiliation that fuelled the West Indies’ ruthless domination of the eighties.
With World Series Cricket underway, Australia sent an ACB-loyal team to the Caribbean in 1978, captained by Bob Simpson. The West Indies selected WSC players for the first two Tests. In the first Test at Port of Spain, Australia were dismissed for 90 in 35 overs and 127 from Alvin Kallicharran gave the West Indies a 315-run lead. Graham Yallop (81) ensured the Aussies fought a bit harder, but the West Indies still won by an innings and 106 runs. After winning at Bridgetown by nine wickets, the WSC West Indians dropped out due to disputes with the WICB. Australia took advantage of this with a three wicket win in Georgetown. The weakened West Indies still secured a 3-1 series win with a second win at Port of Spain (198 runs) and a draw at Kingston, which was marred by a riot that cost Australia victory, with the West Indies 9/258 chasing 369.
With the game reunited, the 1979-80 series was reduced to three matches, sharing the summer with England. After a draw in Brisbane, the West Indies won by 10 wickets in Melbourne and 408 runs in Adelaide.
Coming up – Frank Worrell Trophy part two: The Terrifying and Terrific West Indies