Bat and Pad – By Geoff Burrowes 

Our family revered cricket. It was our second religion

My mother’s father, my grandfather George Learmond captained a team of West Indian cricketers including the great Leary Constantine’s father   and the excellent Barbadian all rounder Snuffy Brown, who later became British Guianese, to England shortly after the turn of the century. He was a railway engineer and travelled extensively throughout the region in the course of his job. As far as I know he was the only cricketer to have represented Barbados, Trinidad and British Guiana.

He died in St Vincent and is buried there.      

Recently professors have sought to politicize  the splendid game . Cricket is a superb game and should not be sullied by the crassness of politics, although that will not happen as people are always trying to promote themselves through any means possible!

I personally never played because I was frightened of that hard red ball and I’m not talking about a balata ball but the proper leather ball which stung even when fielded properly!

My brother Peter and my cousins were never so troubled. Peter, through a series of events too painful to burden you with, was sent to Lodge School in Barbados where he not only kept goal for their soccer team but also kept wicket for  their first Division cricket team.

My cousin Stephen was a gifted all rounder who opened for Guyana at an early age and later for the West Indies, the summit of cricketing acheivement in our part of the world. My family must have been disappointed in me but were kind enough never to say so!

I loved the game however. The great Guyanese troubadour, Dave Martin has a line in “ Boyhood Days”: ‘Worrell late-cutting Laker for four’ which immediately brings up a picture of the majestic Frankie Worrell elegantly cutting the ball between slip and gully on its way to the boundary.

The names John Trim, Berkeley Gaskin, Robert and Cyril Christiani, Peter Bailey, and Bruce Pairaudeau were part of our daily family conversation  and so were The three Ws, John Goddard and Gerry Gomez.

In the early 1960’s, I think it was 1963, the same Frank Worrell who deservedly became Sir Frank, captained a superb West Indian team to England, which included the great fast bowlers Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, the exceptional off spinner Lance Gibbs, the super athletic wicket keeper Andy Murray and the dynamic batsmen  Conrad Hunte, Joe Soloman, Basil Butcher, Rohan Kanhai, Seymour Nurse, and the incomparable all rounder Gary Sobers.

I wouldn’t say: Licks like pease! But our team played Calypso cricket and delighted the crowds of English West Indians and West Indians like myself who happened to be in England at the time. I was blessed to be one of them and my flat mate was my cousin Paul de Freitas who was even more passionate about West Indian cricket than I was, and talked me into lining up outside Lords but when they was not even standing room and they didn’t have bird tickets, like Bourda, we had to leave disappointed!

For once the Englishmen were not beating us! We were playing Calypso cricket and delighting the crowds of West Indian emigrants and West Indians like myself who happened to be in England.

Paul also talked me into hitch hiking to Leeds and we saw the hilarious exchange between Wes Hall and Freddy Truman when Wes had a magnificent tail end knock and Freddy signalled he was going to take his wicket and Wes hit Truman’s next delivery for four! It was obvious that the two men had great respect for one another!

I was fortunate later to get a ride to Manchester where I saw great innings by the two captains Worrell and Dexter and great slip fielding by Frankie Worrell.

From this day on West Indian teams have never had to take a back seat to anyone else. Some would claim, with justification, that honour belonged to John Goddard’s team in the 50’s with Sonny Ramadhin. and Alf Valentine (those two little pals of mine)!

I wasn’t there to see that ,but I sure was, in ’63, and I will never forget it!