Alf Valentine... A West Indies Cricket Legend

Alf ValentineAlf Valentine was one half of the mystifying spin twins immortalised as those "Little Pals of Mine" the other being Sonny Ramadhin, as depicted in Lord Beginner's famous calypso 'Cricket Lovely Cricket'. Valentine made his Test debut on the 1950 tour of England at the age of 20, with only two first class matches to his name and two wickets. Valentine was a slim awkward left-arm bowler, who imparted a ferocious tweak to the ball which, his team-mates testified, hissed through the air before turing sharply off the pitch.

Alf Valentine was a conventional left-arm leg-break bowler who gave the term "spin bowler" new meaning with his capacity to spin the ball, also in his armory was a well disguised delivery that came with the arm. Valentine was a surprising choice on the tour to England in 1950 as he had only taken two wickets in those matches at an average of 95, however the selectors took an educated guess based on his capacity to turn the ball and the, traditional wisdom had it that you must have a left arm spinner in England.

Valentine was the greatest left arm leg break bowler ever to play for the West Indies and argublely to play the game.

He however justified his selection for the Test side when in the first innings of the first Test, he took the first eight wickets, five of them before lunch on the first day. He finished with 8 for 104 in the innings, and 11 for 204 in the match off 106 overs. In the second Test, at Lord's, the West Indies recorded a 326-run victory, with Valentine again showing his class with 7 for 127. 

The West Indies' success continued as they won the third and fourth Tests to record their first series victory in England, Valentine taking five wickets in the third Test and ten wickets in the fourth Test. He bowled 92 overs in the second innings of the third Test, then a Test record. In all, Valentine took 33 wickets in the series at an average of 20.42. He bowled a massive 422.5 overs, conceding only 1.59 runs per over.

In Australia in 1951-52 Valentine spun out 24 more Test wickets, and he was well on the way to 100 in what was then a record time for a West Indian spinner. Injury and illness in England in 1957 forced him out for a while, but he returned for the historic 1960-61 tour of Australia, and played his part in the Tied Test and finished second in the bowling averages to Wes Hall.

Alf Valentine retired from Test cricket at the young age of 30, after the West Indies versus India Test match at Kingston in, 1962, having taken 139 wickets in 36 Test at an average of 30.32.  After retiring from International cricket Valentine played first class cricket in the Lancashire league. He also coach in his native Jamaica before settling in Florida where he died after a prolonged period of ill health. He was 74.

Alf Valentine Test Cricket Statistics

Full Name Alfred Louis Valentine

Number of Test


Test Run Aggregate


Test Batting Average


Total Test Wickets


Test Bowling Average


Test Centuries


Date of Birth

April 28, 1930, Kingston, Jamaica
Died May 11, 2004, Orlando, Florida, USA (aged 74 years 13 days)

Test Debut

England v West Indies at Manchester - Jun 8-12, 1950    

Last Test Match

West Indies v India at Kingston - Apr 13-18, 1962     

Batting Style

Right hand bat

Bowling Style

Slow left-arm orthodox

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