Brief History of Guyana First Class Cricket

Norman Gonsalves
Date published: 

First class cricket in the West Indies began with the inaugural match in Barbados in 1865, in which  Barbados defeated Guyana. Guyana avenged that defeat in the return match the same year at the Parade Ground in Georgetown, Guyana.

Trinidad and Tobago entered regional competition in 1869 when they hosted Guyana in a 2-match series, which ended 1-1. Jamaica first played against a regional team in 1896 with a 2-match series against Guyana in Guyana and the Combined Islands first appeared in 1961.

The Inter-Colonial tournament began in 1891, with teams from Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. This tournament was played more or less annually until 1939, when the Second World War began. The tournament was restricted to amateurs and this excluded many of the leading black cricketers who were often professionals.

After the war the regional tournaments were irregular and without commercial sposorship until Royal Dutch Shell began sposoring the Shell Shield tournament in 1966. The Shell Shield continued until 1987, after which Red Stripe Beer began sponsoring the Red Stripe Cup, until 1997. In 1998 no sponsor could be found, so the West Indies Cricket Board sponsored the President's Cup.

In 1999 Busta Soft Drinks began sponsoring the Busta Cup, and in 2003 sponsorship was taken over by Carib Beer, for the Carib Beer Cup. In 2009 the regional tournamnt was again without a commercial sponsor. Several foreign teams participated in the Busta Cup, including England A, Bangladesh A, India A and Kenya.

Guyana won the Inter-Colonial tournament in 1896, 1930, 1935, 1936 and 1938. After the Second World War and before the Shell Shield tournament Guyana won regional tournaments in 1962 and 1964.

After the Shell Shield began Guyana won the regional tournament in 1973, 1975, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1998 (shared with the Leewards). By comparison, Barbados has won the regional tournament 20 times (1 shared with Trinidad), Jamaica 10 times, Trinidad and Tobago 4 times (1 shared) and the Leewards 3 times. The Windwards team has not yet won the regional 1st class tournament (as of 2010) and the Combined Islands won it once.

The Guyana counties of Berbice and Demerara also enjoyed first class status for matches played between them from 1971 to 1984, first for the Jones Cup and then the Guystac Trophy.