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Frank Worrell donated blood to save Indian Nari Contractor's life

CRICKET: The game of cricket, though fiercely fought out in the middle has its humane qualities. These qualities surfaced in no uncertain manner in international competition where India and the West Indies were involved in 1962.


Nari Contractor and his wife Dolly, came from Bombay to donate blood on the Frank Worrell day in Calcutta.

Former West Indies cricket captain - Sir Frank Worrell is no more. However, the true sportsman that he was and the gentleman qualities that he had in him and displayed on the field and outside, will long be remembered by all those who played the game alongside him in that era.

He was a gentleman to his finger tips and all countries that had contacts with the West Indies in those early years will vouch for his genuiness. Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell is his full name and he was born on August 1 in 1924 in Bridgetown, Barbados and died on March 13th 1967 in Kingston, Jamaica. He was a West Indies cricketer and Jamaican senator.

A stylish right-handed batsman and useful left-arm seam bowler, he became famous in the 1950s as the first black captain of the West Indies cricket team, and is the only batsman to have been involved in two 500-run partnerships in first class cricket.

The year that put the West Indies captain Frank Worrell in the news was 1962 when Worrell met the Indians. The sporting qualities of Frank Worrell was brought to light.

The Indian captain turned out to be Nariman Jamshedji "Nari" Contractor - a left-handed opening batsman whose international career was ended abruptly by a serious injury.

Contractor had a unexpected beginning to his first-class career, when he was called up to replace the Gujarat captain who got injured on the morning of the match. Contractor scored hundreds in both innings of his debut, becoming the second man after Arthur Morris to do so.

At Lord's in 1959, he had two ribs broken early in the first innings by Brian Statham, despite which he scored 81. Later in the year, his 74 in the second innings at Kanpur was crucial in India winning the first Test against Australia. This innings ended when he pulled Alan Davidson who was bowling left-arm spin at that time. Neil Harvey at short leg ducked and turned, but the ball got stuck between his legs.

Unfortunate incident

Contractor led India to a series win against India in 1961-62 and captained the side to West Indies the same season. This is where that unfortunate incident took place. Contractor born on March 7 in 1934, was hit on the head by a bouncer from West Indian Charlie Griffith when playing in the Barbados match. The injury was serious and Contractor was removed to hospital.

Along with the Indian players, the then West Indian captain Frank Worrell also went to the hospital where Contractor was fighting for his life.

The doctors ordered blood transfusion and Worrell was the first to donate. Later Indian players Umrigar, Borde and Nadkarni joined him.

But Worrell's donatipn went into history as ironically, he died of blood cancer later.

Worrell altogether played 51 Tests, scored 3,860 runs, averaging 49.49. He led the Windies on two particularly notable tours. The first was to Australia in 1960-61. But Worrell and his opposing captain - Richie Benaud, encouraged their teams to play in a dramatic tie. Though West Indies lost the series 2-1, with one draw in addition to the tie, they took much credit for contributing to the series. Such was the performance and conduct on Australian soil that they were given a large ticket-tape parade in Australia at the end of their tour.

Contractor survives

While Sir Frank Worrell passed away after his magnanimous gesture of donating blood to Indian skipper Nari Contractor, the Indian skipper then Contractor has survived. Contractor, born on March 7th 1934, was the cricketer who finally escaped death.

In the match against Barbados, he ducked to a short-pitched ball from Charlie Griffith which failed to come up. Contractor took a blow at the back of his skull and was unconscious for six days which ultimately ended his international career.

He had to undergo three operations. But God was with him and he is among the living as yet. Contractor, however, has one regret - he wanted to play just one more Test after the injury, but the people didn't want him to.

Contractor now lives in Mumbai where he coaches at the Cricket Club of India Academy.

The Cricket Association of Bengal as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations, decided to pay homage to this great sportsman Sir Frank Worrell in a befitting manner by donating blood on birthday of Sir Frank Worrell.

That year 1981 Nari Contractor and his wife Dolly came from Bombay to Calcutta to donate blood.

On that occasion Contractor said: "this is the best way of remembering and paying homage to the great man - Frank Worrell." Nearly 450 people including some handicapped gave blood on that day.

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