Franklyn DaCosta Stephenson (born 8 April 1959) is a former cricketer who had a first-class career for teams in four continents. He was a hard-hitting middle-order batsman and a right-arm bowler who, at his peak, was genuinely fast; in addition, he developed a pioneering slower ball and was the first bowler to use it regularly in one-day cricket.
A true all-rounder, Stephenson came to prominence first playing for the West Indies Young Cricketers team that toured England in 1978. Then, in less than eight months from the end of October 1981, he made his first-class debut, first in Australia, playing for Tasmania, then for his native Barbados, and finally for Gloucestershire in England.
But the debut that was to a large extent to define Stephenson’s career was his one the following winter, 1982-83, on a fourth continent. He joined the rebel West Indies XI, led by Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran, that toured South Africa, and played in so-called “Test” matches and “One Day Internationals” against the South African national cricket team that had been barred from world cricket because of apartheid. The rebel West Indian cricketers were themselves then barred from all levels of West Indies cricket for life, until the ban was lifted in 1989, and Stephenson never played true Test cricket. He is widely regarded as the greatest cricketer never to have played for the West Indies.
In fact, unlike most of the West Indian rebels, Stephenson did return to cricket in the West Indies, playing for Barbados in the 1989-90 Red Stripe Cup series. But most of his career was spent playing for English county teams and for Free State in South Africa.
Stephenson’s first season for Nottinghamshire in 1988 was sensational. Since the reduction in English first-class games in 1969, only one player, the New Zealander Richard Hadlee, had achieved the all-rounder’s “double” of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. Stephenson in 1988 became the second and, so far, the last to achieve this feat, making 1018 runs and taking 125 wickets. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1989 for this achievement, and was also the Cricket Society‘s leading all-rounder. Stephenson’s feat was all the more remarkable in that he bought up the run-scoring part of the double by scoring centuries in each innings of Nott’s final match of the season against Yorkshire – and also took 11 wickets in the game. Despite this truly outstanding all round performance, Notts lost the match by 127 runs.
Without quite achieving those heights again, Stephenson was an effective all-rounder for three further seasons for Nottinghamshire, before he transferred in 1992 to Sussex, where he had four further productive seasons. In 1994, he again took the leading all-rounder award with more than 750 runs and 67 wickets.
Stephenson retired from English county cricket after 1995, and from South African domestic cricket after the 1996-97 season.
In addition to his cricketing career, Stephenson, a keen golfer, is also credited with one of only two birdies on the Extreme 19th in South Africa.