Shane Shillingford’s first 10-wicket haul was the perfect way to celebrate the honour of being the first Dominican to play a Test in Dominica.
The tall offie captured 10-219 off 81.5 overs, to be the first West Indian spinner since Lance Gibbs in 1966 in Old Trafford, and only the second in the Caribbean since Wilf Ferguson in 1948 to achieve the feat.
Offie Gibbs, the first Test bowler to crack 300 wickets, captured 10-106 against England; leggie Ferguson 11-229 off 73.2 also against England at Port-of-Spain.
Spinners have been bridesmaids to the battalion of West Indian pacemen over the years, like Wes Hall, Charlie Griffiths, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, and Malcolm Marshall, to name just a few, with the exception of the famous spin-twins Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine.
Before the 1950 tour of England, Norman Yardley’s Englishmen with Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, Bill Edrich, Reg Simpson, Trevor Bailey, Godfrey Evans, Jim Laker, Alec Bedser, and Eric Hollies of Don Bradman fame on duty, were white hot favourites to win the four-Test series.
They won the first Test at Old Trafford by 202 runs, but lost the series 3-1 thanks to the spin-twins – both on debut – and the exceptional three Ws – Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, and Everton Weekes.
Both Ramadhin and Valentine bowled over 1000 overs on that tour, an unheard of stat even then, and to this day.
But it was in the Tests they reigned supreme in tandem.
In the first, Valentine captured 11-204 as stand-out in the loss; Ramadhin 4-167.
In the second at Lords, won by the Windies by 326, Ramadhin took over with 11-152, Valentine 7-127 – Walcott 168, Weekes 63, and Worrell 45.
In the third at Trent Bridge and the 10-wicket win, thanks to both spinners – Ramadhin’s 7-184, and Valentine’s 5-183, while Worrell scored 261, and Weekes 129.
In the final Test at The Oval and the Windies innings and 56-run success, Valentine came back into his own with 10-160 and Ramadhin 4-101, Worrell top-scoring with 138.
In the wash-up, left-arm orthodox Valentine bowled 423 overs in the four-Test series, taking 33-674 at 20.42
Offie-sometimes-leggie Ramadhin toiled for 378 overs, capturing 26-604 at 23.23.
There has never been a more spectacular spin-twin double debut in Test cricket history.
There’s so suggestion Shane Shillingford is another Sonny Ramadhin or Lance Gibbs. But he’s become an important cog in the West Indian revival that’s vital to global cricket.