This year has seen the passing of two of the prominent batsmen of the dominant West Indies teams of the 1960s, first Seymour Nurse on May 6 and now Basil Butcher on December 16. A look back on his career:
He made an immediate impact on his debut series which was against India in 1958-59, scoring 486 runs at an average of almost 70. His more famous innings included 133 at Lord’s in 1963 which probably saved WI from defeat, and 209* at Nottingham in 1966 which was also crucial.
But it is somewhat odd bowling career that we turn to. He was an occasional leg-spinner who was only rarely called upon to bowl. He had bowled 5 overs for 0-17 in his debut series. The next time he bowled in a Test was at Port of Spain in 1967-68, where he took 5-34 as the 6th bowler to be tried in that innings. He started with dismissing the top scorer Cowdrey and took the last 5 wickets, reducing England from 376/5 to 404.
The first 3 Tests had been drawn. The WI captain Gary Sobers was keen to break the stalemate, and he thought he had found his secret weapon. Declaring in the 3rd innings can sometimes lead to an unwanted result, as he would have known:
Anyway, he declared at the low score of 92/2 and hoped that the bowlers including Butcher would dismiss England for less than 215.
Boycott (80*) and Cowdrey (71) had other ideas. Butcher ended with 0-17, and England took an 1-0 lead in the series. They just managed to avoid defeat in the 5th Test, and thus won the series. Sobers was widely blamed for gifting the Test away:
And these were the only wickets Butcher took in his Test career. He is one of the few who took a fiver and no other wickets in his career: