SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
LAWRENCE GEORGE ROWE
A Statistical Review of His Test Career 1972 – 1980
By Dale Brown
Lawrence George Rowe was born in Kingston, Jamaica on January 8, 1949. He is generally considered to be second best batsman produced by Jamaica after the legendary George Headley.
His early success as a cricketer was achieved at the Club level by representing Kensington Cricket Club with distinction in the local top flight Senior Cup competition.
Rowe was selected to represent the Jamaica All Schools team in the British American Tobacco sponsored Regional Youth Tournament in April 1967. He participated in that tournament for 3 seasons.
Outstanding performances in all competitions led to Rowe’s selection to play for the Jamaica senior team and he made his debut in January 1969 against the Windward Islands in the Regional Shell Shield tournament.
Rowe did not enjoy a good start to his First-Class career as he scored a meagre 84 runs while playing in all four matches (6 innings) during the Shell Shield season.
However, Rowe gained the attention of the cricketing public when he scored his maiden First Class century (109) against an International Cavaliers XI which was captained by Colin Cowdrey at Sabina Park in February 1970. The Cavaliers bowling attack included established Test players namely John Snow, Garry Sobers, Fred Titmus, Derek Underwood and Mushtaq Mohammed.
The sheer quality of this inning by Rowe immediately placed him in consideration for Test match selection.
Although the next Test series for the West Indies was against the Indian team which toured the Caribbean in 1971 he was unable to gain selection. Things changed dramatically in 1972.
West Indies v New Zealand 1971/72
New Zealand visited the West Indies in 1972 and played their second match of the tour against Jamaica in February of 1972 at Sabina Park. Lawrence Rowe reintroduced himself to the West Indies selectors by scoring a scintillating double century (227), against the Kiwis.
A week later he was selected to play against the tourists in the first Test match at the same venue.
Lawrence ‘Yagga’ Rowe in his Test debut, created history and established two world records which are still standing.
He became the first and still the only player to score a double century (214) and a hundred (100 not out) on debut in the history of Test cricket. The 314 runs scored stands as the most ever in a Test by a batsman playing in his first match.
Lawrence Rowe played in the first 4 of the 5 Tests, and batting at number three, he scored 419 runs with 2 centuries to finish third behind Roy Fredericks (487) and Charlie Davis (466) He missed the 5th Test in Trinidad due to injury.
He captured the imagination of the Jamaican public and cricket experts with his elegant and majestic stroke play. For pure batting aesthetics, the experts immediately rated Rowe as a great player.
West Indies v Australia 1972/73
The next assignment was against the visiting Australians in 1973. Officially, Rowe played in three of the five matches but, due to an ankle injury, he did not bat in the third Test which was played at Queens Park Oval, Trinidad.
He scored 96 runs in his limited appearances.
England v West Indies 1973
The West Indies toured England in 1973 for a three-match series but Lawrence was forced to withdraw from the tour due to the aforementioned ankle injury.
West Indies v England 1973/74
England then toured the West Indies for a 5-match series in 1974. Lawrence Rowe made a triumphant return to the West Indies team. He played in all five matches and scaled heights of batsmanship which only a few players have reached.
Lawrence scored three centuries during the drawn series (1- 1). Rowe was now asked to open the innings and he responded by scoring 616 runs with three centuries. He scored 120 in the second Test at Sabina Park, then 302 in the third Test in Barbados and then 123 in the fifth and final match at Queens Park Oval, Trinidad.
His inning of 302 during the third Test at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados had the commentators and journalists searching for superlatives as they attempted to describe the beautiful exhibition of batting they had witnessed.
His triple century (302) was the second triple century scored by a West Indian after Garry Sobers’ World record score of 365 not out. Brian Lara and Chris Gayle have since joined this exclusive list.
India v West Indies 1974/75 and Pakistan v West Indies 74/75
The West Indies toured India in 1975 for five Tests and would then continue their journey to Pakistan for two matches. Lawrence Rowe travelled to India with the team but to everyone’s disappointment, he withdrew from the tour because of problems with his eye.
Australia v West Indies 1975/76
The team then travelled ‘Down Under’ to Australia for a six -match series. They were soundly defeated 5-1 by the Aussies.
Rowe started off with an excellent 107 in the first Test at Brisbane. He started the series batting at his favored number three in the order but ended up batting at number six. Lawrence could only manage 163 runs in the next five matches to finish with 270 which placed him a disappointing 6th on the run scoring chart.
West Indies v India 1975/76
India returned to the West Indies for four Tests in 1976. The home team won the series 2-1 but Lawrence Rowe had an indifferent series. He scored 179 runs to once again finish as the 6th highest scorer. He did not record a century or half century.
England v West Indies 1976
West Indies then had a triumphant 5 match tour of England in 1976. They crushed the hosts 3-0. Rowe missed the first three Tests due to injury but he returned to score 126 runs in the final two matches.
West Indies v Pakistan 1976/77
Lawrence Rowe missed this series due to a fractured wrist he sustained while fielding in a Regional Shell Shield match against Trinidad and Tobago in January of 1977.
West Indies v Australia 1977/78
Lawrence Rowe missed the first two Tests due to injury and the assumption is that he was unavailable for the other three games due to the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket contracts and the associated problems.
India v West Indies 1978/79
No frontline West Indian player including Rowe was available for this series due to their participation in World Series Cricket.
Australia v West Indies 1979/80
West Indies won the 3 -match series 2-0 in Australia to secure their first ever series win ‘Down Under’ Rowe scored 162 runs to finish 5th in scoring.
New Zealand v West Indies 1979/80
West Indies lost a controversial 3 match series against New Zealand 1-0 in 1980. Rowe scored 179 runs to finish 4th in the batting. He also scored his seventh and final Test century.
Lawrence Rowe aged 31, was not selected for the 1980 series against the visiting Englishmen or the 1980/81 tour of Pakistan.
He was never selected to represent the West Indies in Test cricket again.
Lawrence Rowe played 30 Test matches, batted 49 times, and scored 2,047 runs at an average of 43.55 runs per completed inning with 7 centuries.
From 1972 to 1974 in his first 12 Tests, Rowe scored 1131 runs at an average of 70.00 with 5 centuries.
Lawrence possessed all the technical tools to be a great player and enthralled the cricketing world with innings of sheer genius during the first twelve matches of his Test career.
From 1975 to the end of his career, Rowe played in 18 Tests and scored 916 runs at an average of 29.54 with 2 centuries.
Unfortunately, after the record setting Test debut in 1972 against the touring New Zealanders, and his brilliant 1974 series against England, Lawrence was persistently troubled by illness and injury, and was never able to consistently approach those dazzling heights in the art of batsmanship again.
Editor’s Note: Dale Brown is a sports historian and host of SECOND BASE, the total sports show airing Tuesdays, 7-8 pm, on the Wee Radio Network at; www.weeradioonline.com