George Headley

George Alphonso Headley OD, MBE (30 May 1909 – 30 November 1983) was a West Indian cricketer who played 22 Test matches, mostly before the Second World War. Considered one of the best batsmen to play for the West Indies and one of the greatest cricketers of all time, Headley also represented Jamaica and played professional club cricket in England. West Indies had a weak cricket team through most of Headley’s playing career; as their one world-class player, he carried a heavy responsibility and the side depended on his batting. He batted at number three, scoring 2,190 runs in Tests at an average of 60.83, and 9,921 runs in all first-class matches at an average of 69.86. He was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1934.
Headley was born in Panama but raised in Jamaica where he quickly established a cricketing reputation as a batsman. He soon gained his place in the Jamaican cricket team, and narrowly missed selection for the West Indies tour of England in 1928. He made his Test debut in 1930, against England in Barbados, and was instantly successful. Further successes followed in series against Australia and in three more against England, as Headley dominated the West Indian batting of the period. Following his tour of England in 1933, Headley signed as a professional at Haslingden in the Lancashire League, where he played until the outbreak of war in 1939.
The war interrupted Headley’s career; although he returned to Tests in 1948 he was hampered by injuries and did not achieve his previous levels of success. Even so, he was chosen as West Indies captain in 1948 against England, the first black player to be appointed to the position, although a combination of injuries and politics meant he only led his team for one Test match. He did not play Tests between 1949 and 1953, but resumed his career in English league cricket, first in Lancashire and later in the Birmingham League. His playing career ended in 1954 on his return to Jamaica, after a public subscription paid his fare from England. After retiring as a player, Headley was employed as a cricket coach by the Jamaican government until 1962. He lived until 1983; his son Ron and his grandson Dean each played Test match cricket, for West Indies and England respectively.

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