A Nevispages weekly feature by Curtis Morton Sr.
The way I see it, it is my stated view that persons should be recognized for their outstanding contributions and achievements and that they should receive their deserved credits and accolades before they leave the land of the living.
One such person who I do not believe has received his due, is that humble, quietly spoken, individual, by the name of ELQUEMEDO TONITO WILLET.
For the benefit of the few persons who may not be aware, let me educate you briefly on the outstanding contributions of the great man:
It was in the year 1973 that Willet created history, by becoming THE FIRST EVER Nevisian and Leeward Islander, to make it into the prestigious West Indies Cricket team.
He was only 19 years old.
Well I newa!
He made his first-class debut for the Leeward Islands in 1970-71 at the age of 17, and played his last match in the 1988-89 season. He took 8 for 73 (his best innings figures) and 3 for 44 for the West Indians against Glamorgan in 1973.
His test career was short-lived, not because of incompetence, but because the West Indies sought at that time to develop the great battery of fast bowlers, for which they later became famous.
He played five test matches; got 11 wickets, with best figures of 3 for 33.
During New Zealand’s tour of the West Indies in 1972, Willett was considered the best of the many left-arm finger-spinners the New Zealanders faced.
Willet effectively opened the flood gates for another six Nevisians (so far) and a host of other outstanding cricketers from the Leewards, to make it to the Windies team.
These include, the great Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose.
You notice that the aforementioned gentlemen, now have SIR attached to their names?
Now, someone may bring up the lame argument: Well, he has a whole Park name after him and he has been awarded an MBE.
You really think that that is enough for such stellar achievements?
Listen what the Antigua/Barbuda Government is doing for Sir Viv:
“To honour its biggest cricketing icon, Vivian Richards, the Antigua and Barbuda government has agreed to provide him with a slew of tax benefits, monthly pension and other state-sponsored services
The West Indian batting great, will now be paid a monthly pension that’s equal to the amount now paid to Ministers of State within the Antigua and Barbuda Government.
He will also be exempt from duties and other charges on the importation of personal items, it said. Richards also needn’t pay property taxes on the house he owns and will be allowed a duty-free car every seven years. If needed, he will be provided a driver and a home helper to be paid by the Treasury.
‘The promise to treat living National Heroes with a high degree of respect is fulfilled. Sir Vivian Richards will also remain an Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda.’”
Hey, remember he also has a stadium named in his honour, among his many accolades.
Now I am not saying that Willet should be granted a similar package. I believe that we are a poor country and cannot afford all of that, but a little knighthood and to be officially named one of country’s national heroes and a little STIPEND in the mix man! That can’t be asking too much.
For our 37th anniversary of Independence, I actually submitted a recommendation for Willet to be named a national hero.
I do not know if it was ever perused, but I do hope it was given due consideration and that the powers that be, will sooner, rather than later, do the right thing…..
Here is what I submitted:
“RECOMMENDATION FOR ELQUEMEDO TONITO WILLET TO BE AWARDED THE ‘ORDER OF NATIONAL HERO’
I strongly recommend that Elquemedo Tonito Willet of Nevis, be awarded the ‘order of National hero’ for this year, 2020.
Willet has served the island of Nevis in superlative fashion and by extension, the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Through his cricketing exploits, he has also served as a Tourism ambassador, for the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Unlike all of our previously named national heroes, who have served selflessly through Politics, Willet has done yeoman service in the world of sports, specifically CRICKET.
When Willet made it into the prestigious West Indies Cricket team, on March 9th 1973, history was created:
Significantly, he was just a mere lad, at age 19, but most importantly, he became the first cricketer from the Leeward Islands, to make it into the West Indies team.
Arguably, his test career was short-lived – just five test matches, but that can be attributed mainly to the ongoing political insularity of small islands versus big islands.
He only took 11 wickets, but performed creditably with the ball and also batted with distinction on occasions.
However, his wicket-taking ability representing, Nevis, the Leewards and the Combined Islands teams, is phenomenal.
At the first class level, he picked up no fewer than 286 wickets, at a mean average of 28.43; at an economy rate of 2.26. His best bowling figures: 8 for 73.
He effectively opened the proverbial door, for other greats from the Leeward Islands to follow suit. Established heroes such as Sir Vivian Richards; Sir Andy Roberts; Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose, just to name a few.
His original selection forced the West Indies selectors to continue looking in the direction of the smaller islands, for emerging talents.
As a reward for their outstanding contributions in sports, the aforementioned gentlemen, have been knighted and have received many awards and rewards for their service, from the Antigua and Barbuda government, as a show of appreciation.
It is my firm belief, that Willet deserves such an honour and that in a historic year for the Team Unity Administration, the icing on the cake, would be to award Mr. Willet, the ‘order of national hero.’
Curtis E. Morton
I long for the day when I will hear her majesty say:
“Rise Sir Elquemedo…” and the day when Prime Minister Harris would make the grand announcement that Mr. Willet has become our second LIVING National Hero.
Did I hear you say ‘DREAM ON?’
Well, this is one dream that I refuse to awake from.
The good thing, however, is that Willet and all of us must so live our lives that if we do not get our crowns here on earth, we will be sure to get them in heaven.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?