Joseph Stanislaus Solomon was born on August 26, 1930 in Port Mourant, Berbice, in British Guiana (now Guyana) – a small town that has coughed up more than its share of Test cricketers including Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharran.
Solomon only made his first-class debut at the age of 26 and, while going on to make useful runs for the West Indies, never set the record books aflame.
Solomon played 27 Tests for West Indies between 1958 and 1965, scoring 1326 runs at an average of 34. Though he was a late starter in first-class cricket, debuting at 26, he proved his credentials quickly, as his first three innings in first-class cricket were centuries: 114 not out against Jamaica, 108 against Barbados, and 121 against the touring Pakistanis. From there, he was drafted straight into the West Indies squad to tour India; in his fourth Test, he scored an unbeaten 100 in Delhi, and averaged 117 in the series.
Solomon, though, is perhaps most remembered for his role in the tied Test against Australia at the Gabba in 1960. With six runs to win off the final eight-ball over, and with three wickets remaining, Australia looked set to steal an already dramatic Test. But with Richie Benaud and Wally Grout falling in quick succession, Australia were left needing one run off two balls, with just one wicket remaining. Lindsay Kline, the last batter, nudged the next ball to square leg and tried to steal a single, but Solomon’s dead-eye aim caught Ian Meckiff short of his crease, resulting in the first ever tied Test.
Chasing 233 to win the match, Australia had recovered from 92/6 to 226/6 thanks to what appeared to be a match-winning partnership between Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud.
In the penultimate over, with seven needed, an exhausted Davidson, who followed his 11 wickets in the match with a fine 80, was run out going for a quick single.
The throw had come in like an arrow from Solomon at square-leg.
“Solomon’s accuracy, as it turned out, was a preview of what was to follow,” wrote the West Indian journalist Tony Cozier.
Dr. Kishore Shallow, President of Cricket West Indies, paid tribute, saying,
“The remarkable contributions of Joe Solomon will be remembered not only by those in their native Guyana but also by many across the West Indies.
“Joe Solomon stood among the heroes of West Indies cricket. His iconic play – the pick-up, throw, and run-out of Ian Meckiff in the tied Test – remains an indelible moment in our history. His dedication to the game was evident in mentoring numerous players, showing his commitment to the sport’s development. He was a true servant of the game.”