C.L.R.James wrote of him "He belongs to the distinguished company of men who, through cricket, influenced the history of their time". Learie, later Sir Learie and Lord Constantine, brought West Indian cricket into the international eye through his inspirational play. His father made the first century by a West Indian in England, and Learie grew up in Trinidad playing cricket under his guidance. A completely original, but inconsistent batsman, a bowler capable of genuine pace, and a sensational fielder, he was one of the most watchable cricketers of his, or any, time. Starting with an orthodox technique, Constantine was able to improvise strokes to fit any situation, as well as hitting with immense power. Lacking consistency at first, his fielding at cover kept him in the West Indies side, where he surpassed his great contemporaries, Hobbs and Bradman. Consciously planning to make cricket a career, he restricted his fielding to the slips to allow him to develop as a fast bowler, and his success on the 1928 tour of England secured him a Lancashire League contract with Nelson. He was without equal as a League professional, learning to bowl with great variation and accuracy, and built consistency in his run scoring. Whilst in England he and the writer CLR James worked together to further the cause of West Indian nationalism, and he later successfully studied for the Bar. Returning to Trinidad, he became an MP, a Government minister, and returned to England as High Commissioner for Trinidad.
(Article: Copyright © 1998 Dave Liverman)
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