A BATSMAN FOR BIG OCCASIONS
By Kevin E. Bolter
On a sunny May afternoon at the Toronto Cricket Club in 1975 Franklyn Dennis helped make Canadian cricket history when he carved his way to a stylish 57 not out to help Eastern Canada defeat Ian Chappell?s 1975 Australian World Cup team by five wickets.
The innings was not only historical, but also a memorable spectacle as Dennis had to contend with bowlers of the calibre of Dennis Little, Max Walker and Alan Hurst.
During the 1979 World Cup in England, Franklyn Dennis played another impressive innings for Canada, when he stood up to the might of England for two hours and two minutes to score 21 runs, while Canada struggled to 45 all out. Once again the bowling was world class with Bob Willis, Chris Old, Mike Hendricks, and lan Botham in the line?up. Dennis finally lost his wicket when he was struck on the back of the head by a ball from Willis and fell on to his wicket.
Franklyn Anthony Dennis was born in Kingston Jamaica on September 26, 1947 and like many small boys in the West Indies he became interested in cricket at an early age. During his school years he played with and against several boys who were later to become prominent in Jamaican cricket with the most famous being Lawrence Rowe. A keen rivalry has always existed between the two men during their years in Jamaican cricket. Experts often debated as to which of the two young batsmen would be first to reach the national team.
Franklyn began to make his mark as a 17 year old playing for the Boystown Juniors. He competed against talented young players including Jackie Hendricks and Lester King and in a match against the Melbourne Cricket Club he scored 136 not out. Although Franklyn Dennis has scored numerous centuries in Canadian and West Indian cricket, this innings remains as the highest in his career to date.
By the time he was 18 Franklyn was playing senior cricket with the Boystown Cricket Club and once again he posed a problem to the bowlers of the Melbourne Cricket Club when he notched up 124 not out.
During 1969 Franklyn had the honour of playing for Jamaica against the touring Correras Xl which included such stars as Alan Knott, Peter Philpott and well known American international Donald Weekes.
Around this time Franklyn began thinking of migrating to Canada. He had a sister living in Toronto who urged him to make the move and with a young family to support he had to consider the prospects of a future cricket career in the West Indies, or a new life in Canada. It was decided to move to Canada in 1972 and it was a decision the Dennis family has never regretted.
Franklyn quickly began to make his presence felt in Toronto cricket and was chosen to represent Ontario against Quebec in the 1972 Atholstan Trophy fixture played at London. In this match he scored 68 not out and saved the day for Ontario. The talented Dennis considers this innings to be one of the finest in his impressive cricket career.
The 1975 season was a milestone in the career of Franklyn Dennis. Early in the season he played his dashing innings for Eastern Canada against Australia at Toronto and later was chosen to represent Canada against the United States for the first time. In all he has played against the United States on four occasions with a personal best of 44 in the Bi?Centennial match at Philadelphia in 1976.
During 1976 he was chosen as a member of the Canadian team to tour the West Indies under the captaincy of Garnet Brisbane. The tour turned out to be a great personal success for Franklyn. He topped the batting scoring 148 runs at on average of 34.84 per innings. On several occasions Dennis came to the rescue with his flashing bat and recorded scores of 46 against Dominica, 114 against St. Kitts, and 94 against Grenada Youth.
Through the years he has been a heavy scorer for the West Indian Xl in the 1st Division of the Toronto & District Cricket Association competition