Frank Edwards loved cricket. As a boy, he honed his skills on a rugged field at Barton Bay, a short distance from his home in Water Lane in Plymouth, Montserrat. He joined the national team as a teenager and played professionally for a decade. He also served as an umpire, administrator and mentor to dozens of other cricketers. But most of all he was a big cricket fan, and he could discuss the game for hours. In March of 2017, Edwards was asked to select his all-time Montserrat cricket team. Although he was ailing at the time, he was in good spirits, especially when the subject of cricket came up.
Edwards possessed a vast knowledge of the game. He played with, or watched, some of the most talented cricketers Montserrat has produced. Montserrat has been playing in the Leeward Islands tournament since 1913. Edwards was born in 1937, and although he followed the game all his life he admits it would be difficult to judge cricketers who came before his time. The lack of statistics and other archival documentation makes it even more challenging. For instance, Edwards said he has heard great stories about spin bowler Eddie Roberts, who starred in the late 1930s. “But I never saw him play,” Edwards said.
Edwards’ all-time list is comprised of cricketers he saw first-hand. So that would be the era from about 1950 onward. All-Star lists are always controversial and contain elements of subjectivity. There was no criteria discussed with Edwards, but all the players on the list earned selection to the Leeward Islands team or a higher level during their career, not just for the Montserrat team.
Edwards passed away June 7, 2019. But as his legacy is celebrated, it is refreshing that he was able to leave us with his all-time Montserrat XI. Edwards’ picks are listed in the format of a batting order. The years each player represented Montserrat are in parentheses:
FRANK EDWARDS’ ALL-TIME MONTSERRAT XI
1. Thomas “Legs” Davis (1951-55): “Legs” was an aggressive opening batsman and standout cover-point fielder who helped Montserrat capture the 1953 Leeward Islands tournament, a feat the team has not repeated since. His 84 runs against St. Kitts helped Montserrat clinch the Shield. “Legs” played several matches for Leeward Islands and was also selected for a Leeward-Windward squad that played in British Guiana in 1956.
2. Sylvester “Nul” Greenaway (1961-75): “Nul” was never a swashbuckling scorer but instead a patient, deliberate technician who was content to play a supporting role as his teammates took the aggressive route. “Nul” scored 157 runs against Antigua in his final season for Montserrat in 1975 and also captained the team from 1973 to ’75. He played two matches for Leeward Islands, including one vs. the New Zealand Test team in 1972.
3. Jim Allen (1969-84): The most accomplished cricketer in Montserrat history is an automatic selection, but Edwards also agreed on making Allen the wicket-keeper in order to open a spot for another player. Allen, a hard-hitting batsman and frenetic scorer, hit four centuries for Montserrat in the Leeward Islands tournament, five more playing first-class cricket for Leeward Islands, Combined Islands and the West Indies team at World Series Cricket (Kerry Packer), and 11 centuries for the Hyde Cricket Club in England.
4. Kingsley Rock (1954-64): In 1959, Rock became the first Montserratian to score a century in the Leeward Islands tournament. He accomplished the feat against Nevis. Rock was a stylish batsman and methodical strokemaker who held down the important No. 3 position for Montserrat during the late 1950s and early ’60s.
5. Frank Edwards (1955-65): Edwards was too modest to name himself to the all-time team. However, when he was told that Montserrat cricket experts agree that he should be captain of the team, he simply responded with a chuckle. Former teammate John Wilson says Edwards had leadership skills that the other players could only dream of. “He was always thinking ahead,” Wilson said. Edwards was an elegant batsman and reliable off-break bowler. “He scored his runs with great care,” Wilson said. Edwards is also one of only four Montserratians to captain the Leeward Islands team.
6. Alford Corriette (1970-76): Edwards said Corriette must be included on any Montserrat all-time team. Corriette is widely considered the best all-rounder Montserrat has produced. He played 22 first-class matches for Leeward and Combined Islands, taking 44 wickets. Among his highlights playing for Montserrat: 116 against Nevis in 1973 and a fighting 90 against St. Kitts in 1975 that almost pulled out an improbable victory. He scored 113 not out for Combined Islands against Trinidad in 1973. That same year he scored 81 against the touring Australian Test team, which featured great fast bowler Dennis Lillee. In his final match for Montserrat in 1976, Corriette took 7 wickets for 27 runs against Antigua.
7. Fred Sylvester Davis (1938-39, 1946-52): Edwards’ eyes lit up when he mentioned all-rounder “Fred Delinger” — the only Montserrat cricketer with two career hat tricks (1949, 1952). In the 1951 Leewards tournament against Antigua, he scored 97 not out and took 7 wickets with his medium-pace bowling. He was also a member of the 1953 team that won the Hesketh Bell Shield. His career lost several years in the early 1940s as he joined the military during World War II. He was also an excellent soccer player.
8. Melford Roach (1960-65): A genuine fast bowler, Roach had one of the most graceful deliveries during his time. He was also no slouch with the bat, as evidenced by his 151 not out against St. Kitts in Antigua in June of 1965. That same year he played for Leeward Islands against the touring Australia Test team. He migrated to the United States at the tender age of 23, leaving one to wonder what could have been. Some say he was talented enough to play for West Indies.
9. Austin White (1976-85): Like Roach, White was an all-rounder who could bowl fast and hold his own at the crease. White, a great athlete who learned cricket at Lansen Park near his home in Cork Hill, captained the Leewards Under-19 team, then captained the West Indies Under-19 team (West Indies Young Cricketers) that toured England in 1979. He captained the Montserrat team from the late 1970s into the early ’80s. White played five first-class matches and eight List A matches.
10. George Edwards (1946-61): “Teacher George” was a terror with the new ball as he and James Riley (Son Harris) lashed opponents with perpetual pace during the 1950s. He was part of the 1951 team that posted Montserrat’s first away win in the Leewards tournament, and the 1953 squad that won the Shield. In 1948, he and Theodore Bramble were the first Montserratians selected for a combined Leewards/Windwards squad that played in British Guiana.
11. Lionel Baker (2000-16): On December 11, 2008, Baker became the first cricketer from Montserrat to play in a Test match for West Indies. The pace bowler ended up playing four Test matches and 10 one-day matches for Windies. Frank Edwards said Baker’s distinction of being the only Montserratian to play Test cricket merits his selection in the all-time XI team. Baker took 94 first-class wickets, including five in Test matches and 11 in one-day internationals.
George Allen: Allen, an all-rounder and brother of Jim Allen, was a mainstay on the Montserrat team from 1966 to 1981. He bowled a tidy, slow medium pace and was a student of the game. He played nine first-class matches for Leewards and Combined Islands, taking 15 wickets at a decent average of 24.93.
Lesroy Weekes: “Cosmic” starred for Montserrat and Leeward Islands but made his biggest impact playing county cricket in England. He took 69 first-class wickets at an average of 27.11.
Fitzroy Buffonge: In 1979, Buffonge became the third member of his family to play for the Montserrat team, following uncles George “Hammy” Buffonge (1968) and Joseph “Bulu” Buffonge (1977). After a rough start, he settled down to become a consistent opener and later team captain. He played four first-class matches for Leeward Islands.
For comparison, below is a look at the all-time Montserrat cricket team selected by former player, ICC International Cricket Umpire and statistician Basil Morgan:
|1. Fitzroy Buffonge||8. Oakland Greaves|
|2. Sylvester Greenaway||9. George Edwards|
|3. Jim Allen||10. Lionel Baker|
|4. Kingsley Rock||11. Eddie Roberts|
|5. Frank Edwards (CPT)||12. Austin White|
|6. Alford Corriette||13. George Allen|
|7. Melford Roach||14. Herbert Mason (WK)|