Guyanese In WI Test Cricket
In the early days of West Indian cricket, Guyana did not have the opportunity of playing a big part in the composition of West Indian teams, at home and abroad. But today it is entirely a different matter. Gone are the days when we had to consider ourselves fortunate to have one representative on a West Indian touring side whenever a team was selected. The choices at times never met with wide approval, and there have been many heartaches and heartburns over the non-selection of our heroes. Some of our representatives have done well, while others found the going hard, generally because of their inability to adapt themselves to foreign conditions, or, in some cases, to selectorial faults.
The West Indies teams of 1900 and 1906 which toured England did not have many Guyanese included. The most successful member from Guyana was J. Burton, a professional fast bowler from the Georgetown Cricket Club. In 1900 he took 72 wickets on tour, but he was a dismal failure in 1906. When the first West Indian Eleven met an England Eleven at Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1902, Burton and C. H. King, a batsman, were included. King was a right-hand batsman who had made centuries in first class games against Trinidad. Actually on his debut in first class cricket he scored a century against Trinidad in 1894-95, so his inclusion was merited. His batting against Barbados and Trinidad in the Intercolonial series was of the highest calibre.
Another Guyanese who did well was E. R D. Moulder. He was selected to play against the MCC in 1912-13 at Bourda, and in the second innings had the distinction of batting right through the entire West Indies second innings of 264. Moulder hit 104 not out, but with the intervention of World War One, he did not get another chance at higher stakes.
The 1923 team to England contained three Guyanese, C. R. Brown, a Barbadian resident here from his schooldays, opening batsman Maurice Fernandes, and C. V. Hunter, a G.C.C. batsman. Hunter was given few chances and could muster only 59 runs on the tour. Browne took 91 first class wickets at 20.74, while Fernandes was second in the batting averages to George Challenor. He hit 693 runs with an innings of 110 against Leicestershire at Leicester.
When the M.C.C. came here in 1925-26, Browne played in three representative games. This man, the finest all-rounder ever to represent Guyana, hit a brilliant 102 not out in the unofficial Test at Georgetown. In Trinidad he scored an amazing 74, but his bowling during the series was very expensive - eight wickets for 340.
Maurice Fernandes and C. V Wight also played at Georgetown for the West Indies side, but Fernandes failed. Vibart Wight scored a grand innings of 90, he and Browne enjoying a seventh-wicket partnership of 173.
In Mr. R. K. Nunes team to England in 1928 four players from Guyana were included. C.V. Wight was vice captain, and the others were M. P. Fernandes, C.R. Brown, and Jim Neblett. The last two named were born in Barbados. Browne scored 674 runs and had 47 wickets at 28 runs apiece. His best performance was a magnificent 103 in 60 minutes against Kent at Canterbury. Fernandes and Wight were not successful with the bat.
The 1930 Test series in the West Indies provided Guyana with more places than hitherto. In the First Test at Barbados, Frank de Caires, a brilliant batsman from G.C.C., had two of the most beautiful innings ever seen on the ground. He made 80 and 70 but C. R. Browne made a 'pair. De Caires also played at Port-of-Spain, making a duck and 45. At Georgetown, Fernandes and Vibart Wight joined Browne, but although Fernandes did not do well with the bat, he had the distinction of skippering the West Indies side to its first ever Test match victory. In the second innings Browne scored a glorious 70 not out. In the fourth Test in Jamaica only de Caires was played, and he had moderate knocks of 21 and 16.
Only one Guyanese was included in the team to tour England in 1933. He was Cyril Christiani, generally regarded as the best wicket-keeper who ever played for Guyana or the West Indies. 'C. M.' was a man 'who stood up to Mannie Martindale and Leary Constantine, and his leg-side work was considered to be bordering the miraculous. For all this, he did not play in the Test matches, Ivan Barrow of Jamaica displacing him on account of superior batting. On the tour Christiani played in only 13 games, scoring 179 runs, but his wicket-keeping was of the highest standard.
But when the M.C.C. came to the West Indies in 1935, Christiani played in all four Test matches. He opened the innings on several occasions, and he twice had Charlie Jones, the Malteenoes player, as opening partner. Both failed in the batting. Kenny Wishart of the G.C.C., after a good colony game, made his Test debut at Georgetown. He scored 52 and nought in what turned out to he his only Test match.
Guyana was badly treated in 1939 when Peter Bayley, the brilliant G.C.C. batsman, was the only selectee on the West lndies side to tour England. He did not appear in any of the Test matches, and compiled only 266 first class runs. Of these 104 came in one innings against Oxford University at Oxford. Robert Christiani, the brilliant B.G.C.C. all-rounder was the surprise omission.
The same trend of things continued after the Second World War, but only for a short period. Guyanese were making a name for themselves on the field. The 1947-48 series against England saw Berkeley Gaskin and Robert Christiani holding places in the first two Test matches. When 'Skins' was dropped his place was taken by the big-hearted John Trim. Robert covered himself with glory at Barbados when, in the first Test match, he scored a brilliant 99 in the second innings. At Georgetown he also scored a useful 51, while John Trim, playing his first Test match, bowled well and returned figures of two for six and one for 38. He was unfortunate to receive a badly gashed forehead during the game, and was subsequently left out of the fourth Test.
The West Indies tour to India in 1948-49 marked the first time since 1928 that three Guyanese were included in an overseas tour. They were Robert Christiani, John Trim, and that excellent stumper and aggressive batsman, Clifford McWatt. Robert played in all five Test matches, and Trim in two, but McWatt was unfortunate to miss all of them. Reason for this was the presence of a man called Clyde Walcott, who batted and kept wicket like no one since Leslie Ames of England. Trim headed the bowling averages in the Tests with 10 wickets at an average of 18.80, and his bowling in the fourth Test, the only one that was finished, was top class. Christiani scored a brilliant 107 at New Delhi, and on tour scored 785 runs at 41.
Once again, in 1950, we had only one player from these shores on the boat to England. This time John Trim and the young batsman Bruce Pairaudeau were left back. Christiani played in all the Tests without doing anything spectacular with the bat, but his fielding was superb. In the other games he did well, scoring four centuries, including one in each innings against Middlesex at Lord's, the first time this was achieved by a Guyanese. He also aggregated 1,094 runs and was fourth in the batting averages.
Robert Christiani and John Trim were moderate successes in Australia and New Zealand in 1951-52 tour. Trim's finest moment was in the fourth Test when he took five Australian wickets for 34 runs in the first innings at Adelaide. Christiani played in all the Tests and his best effort in these was his 76 at Sydney during the second. He also played brilliantly against Victoria at Melbourne, scoring 107 in 100 minutes to help the West Indies win the match.
When V. J. Hazare's Indians visited us in 1952-53, Bruce Pairaudeau had the distinction of scoring a century in his first ever Test match - a great 115 at Port-of-Spain. He played in four Tests. Christiani played in two, but did nothing worthwhile. Leslie Wight was played in one. Wight was an ideal opening batsman, dour and dependable, and it was bad policy to ask him to bat at number seven. He made 21 in two and-a-half hours and was never selected again.
Clifford McWatt kept wicket excellently for the West Indies in all five Tests against Len Hutton's MCC team in I953-54. He also made two half centuries. Pairaudeau played in two Tests hitting a grand 71, and helping Clyde Walcott to stage a great recovery for West Indies at Barbados. Robert Christiani played in only one match, the Test at Georgetown, and he scored 25 and 11. This was his farewell to Test and first class cricket.
When the Australians first came here in 1955 we were fortunate to get two places. Both Glendon Gibbs and Cliff McWatt played in one Test each. Gibbs, an opening batsman, failed at Jamaica, and was not given another chance. McWatt was the victim of some atrocious returns to the wicket by the fieldsmen at Port-of-Spain. West Indies played three wicket-keepers in the series, and I still believe that it was a mistake to have left out McWatt after his brilliant performance the year before. Our selectors had this idea imbedded in them that all wicket-keepers must be batsmen.
In 1956 Bruce Pairaudeau and Wilfred Edun went to New Zealand with a West Indian side. But neither did anything of note, Edun being left out all the Tests. Pairaudeau, on the other hand, became enchanted with the country, and after the 1957 tour of England took no permanent residence there.
Rohan Kanhai, the brilliant right-hand batsman from Berbice, and Bruce Pairaudeau were taken to England in 1957. Pairaudeau, who should have been there in 1950, was a dismal Test failure, but Rohan Kanhai, starting as a wicket-keeper, played in all Test matches. It was recognised that he was a future great in the making, and he soon gave up keeping wickets to concentrate on his batting. He did not score a century on the tour, as Pairaudeau did on two occasions, but he aggregated 1,093 runs.
When the Pakistanis were in the West Indies during the winter of 1957-58, Kanhai played in all five Tests. Lance Gibbs, the lanky off-spinner appeared in four. Kanhai scored 229 runs, and had a handsome 96 at Port-of-Spain. At Georgetown his 62 in the fourth Test was a gem. Gibbs was an immediate success in his first series. His off-spin bowling reaped 17 wickets at 23 runs apiece, and at Georgetown he bowled 42 overs in one innings while taking five for 80, and the West Indies won the match.
Basil Butcher and Joe Solomon joined Gibbs and Kanhai on tour to India and Pakistan in 1958-59. Undoubtedly Kanhai had arrived. This magnificent strokeplayer scored a total of 1,518 runs, the highest on the sub-continent by a West Indian. Included were two double centuries in Tests, 256 vs India at Calcutta and 217 vs. Pakistan at Lahore. Basil Butcher on his first overseas tour was not far behind with 1,133, including two Test centuries against India. Little Joe Solomon headed the batting averages in Tests against India with 117. He scored his only Test century in his career at New Delhi in the fifth Test. Lance Gibbs found the going somewhat hard, and he took only 35 wickets on the entire tour. His best performance was in a match against North Zone in which he had final figures of 10 for 61.
Why Lance Gibbs was not played in the series against England in 1959-60 is a question all Guyana asked, but no answer was forthcoming. Gaskin has always been an advocate of Gibbs, and when Frank Worrell saw Gibbs bowling at Peter May's men at Georgetown in the Colony game he became convinced that Lance was a world beater. He went so far as to predict that Lance could be the "sensation" of the forthcoming tour of Australia. In the Tests against England, Kanhai played in all five, hitting a glorious 110 at Trinidad. Basil Butcher and Joe Solomon each played in two, at Barbados and Trinidad, but they both failed and lost their places. Both scored centuries against the same attack for their country, and county, when not on Test duty.
For the West Indies tour of Australia in 1960-61 the trio were Kanhai, Gibbs and Solomon. Why Butcher was omitted for the Barbadian Lashley was the talking point. Kanhai enhanced his reputation, and so did Gibbs and Solomon. Kanhai was magnificent. He scored a first appearance 103 at Perth, followed by the highest innings by a West Indian in Australia - 252 against Victoria at Melbourne. He topped this by scoring a century in each innings in the Adelaide Test. He also became the only West Indian to score 1,000 runs in Australia (1,093), and he headed the averages. In the Test matches he aggregated 503 runs.
Lance Gibbs had a triumphant tour. Left out of the first two Tests, he played in the remaining three, and his bowling at Sydney and Adelaide was world class. He had three wickets in four balls, and this was followed by a "hat trick" at Adelaide. He headed the bowling in the Tests with 19 wickets at 20 runs each. Solomon also played his part well, especially in the Tests. He had a great first Test scoring 65 and 47, and it was his magnificent fielding and throwing that virtually brought about the first tie in the history of Test cricket.
Charlie Stayers, the fast bowler from B.G.C.C., and Ivor Mendonca, wicket-keeper, joined Kanhai, Gibbs and Solomon in the home series against India in 1961-62. Stayers played in four of the Tests, but his nine wickets were rather expensive. Mendonca shared the wicket-keeping with David Allan of Barbados, and he played in two matches. Solomon appeared in four matches, and was unfortunate to miss a century at Barbados when he was out at 96. He also picked up a "pair" at Kingston.
Gibbs did his share of bowling, and it was at Barbados during the third Test that he rose to the greatest heights. When it appeared as if India would draw the match on the last day with their second innings standing at 158 for 2, Gibbs bowled the most devastating spell of bowling ever achieved at Test level. He took eight wickets in a row for six runs in 15.3 overs, and ended the match with figures of 8 for 38, the best innings performance by a West Indian in Test cricket. In all he took 24 wickets at 20.41 in the series.
Frank Worrell's victorious 1963 side in England contained four Guyanese, the largest number ever to tour England. (In 1928 we also had four players, but remember, two were Barbadian born). The pattern was the same - Kanhai, Gibbs and Solomon, with Butcher gaining his rightful place at last. The four played in all the Tests. Kanhai did not score a Test century, but had four innings over 50. He scored more runs in the Tests than any player on both sides - 497 at an average of 55, but in the lesser games he was somewhat off. However he still scored a 1,000 runs on tour, and he became the first Guyanese to he made Wisden's Cricketer of the Year.
Butcher scored a magnificent 133 at Lord's in the second Test, the first Guyanese to do so. He also had centuries against the MCC at Lord's and against Somerset at Bath. He also achieved 1,000 runs during the tour. Solomon was not as brilliant, but Gibbs was one of the great successes. His 11 wickets for 157 at Manchester in the first Test was the match winner, and in all five he took 26 wickets. On tour his aggregate was 78 wickets at 20 runs each.
The Australians under Bobby Simpson came here in 1965, and lost the rubber. Butcher, Kanhai and Gibbs played major parts in this historic victory by being played in all the Tests, and only injury before the fifth prevented Solomon from making it a grand slam. Kanhai started badly, but as the tour progressed he found his best form. In his 462 Test runs were included two centuries - 129 at Barbados, and the finest innings of the tour, 121 at Trinidad. Butcher also passed the 400 mark, and scored a brilliant 117 at Port-of-Spain. Lance Gibbs bowled more overs than anyone else, and returned 18 wickets at an average of 29.83 on these hard West Indian wickets. At Georgetown he cut loose on the Aussies with six for 29 in the second innings of the third Test to help give us victory.
After the magnificent performances of Rex Collymore and Clive Lloyd during the regional series, Guyanese were bitterly disappointed that the two were not included in the team to defend the Wisden Trophy in England during 1966. Collymore's omission probably came as a result of his being called for throwing at Jamaica by umpire Sang Hue. Lloyd, on the other hand, was downright unfortunate: besides being a most brilliant left-hand strokeplayer, he was without doubt the best fieldsman in the West Indies. As it was, the Foursome again were our representatives - Kanhai, Butcher, Gibbs and Solomon.
There was no Frank Worrell this time, and it was a disappointed Solomon who returned to Guyana after we had won the series. Joe did not play in any of the Tests, and his appearances in the other games were limited. But he should have been played at least in the fifth Test at the Oval. All the openers used with Hunte were dismal failures. Kanhai had an indifferent tour. He started with 191 against Oxford University, but not until the first innings of the fifth Test did he score another century. He ended the tour with another. In Tests he scored 324 (av. 40) and hit his usual 1,000 runs. Butcher, on the other hand, played consistently throughout the tour.
He also scored three centuries, including a great 209 not out in the third Test at Nottingham. His aggregate in Tests was 420 runs (av. 60), and in all matches 1,105 with an average of 48. Gibbs also made few appearances in the other matches, but played in all live Tests. At Manchester he repeated his 1963 performance by taking 5-37 and 5-69 to help win the match. At Leeds his second innings contribution was 6 for 39 when England were defeated by an innings. Of his 47 first class wickets on tour, 21 were taken in the Tests.
Happily for us this story has a happy ending. Just before going to press, it was announced that five Guyanese were included in the West Indies team to tour India and Ceylon. While this came as no surprise to us, there were again some heartaches, as many felt Steve Camacho, the young GCC opening batsman, would also have been given a chance. The selectors plumped for two of Hunte's former partners, Robin Bynoe and Brian Davis. Davis played against Australia in 1965, but Bynoe was on the sideline since the 1958 tour of India and Pakistan. However, Rex Collymore, the left-arm spinner, and Clive Lloyd, the hard-hitting left hander and magnificent fieldsman, have been given their chances.
By the time this article is out, news will be coming in about the early performances of the five players - Kanhai, Butcher, Gibbs, Collymore and Lloyd. All Guyanese are hoping for sterling performances from them. We wish them all the luck in the world, and hope that all five will maintain their places when England comes here in 1967-68.