History Of The Georgetown Cricket Club

Norman Gonsalves
Date published: 
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The Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) was founded in 1858 during Guyana's colonial era. In its early days membership was open only to British men born in Great Britain or elsewhere.

Initially, GCC used Parade Ground, at Middle and Carmichael Streets, which belonged to the Georgetown Town Council, for practice and matches. GCC was granted permission by the Council to use a part of Parade Ground  on certain days of the week and exclusive rights on Saturdays. The Club erected a small simple wooden pavilion, painted white, with a flag staff on the western side of the ground.

It was here that the earliest recorded cricket match between the GCC and the officers and men of the 21st Fusiliers occurred on 11 June, 1860. The Royal Gazette, in its detailed report, noted that the low scoring game had aroused great interest in the sport, which had up to this time been seldom played in the colony. In September 1865 crowds were again thrilled as British Guiana (the same as GCC back then) avenged a defeat which they had suffered at the hands of Barbados at the Garrison Savannah earlier that year.

A few other matches were played afterwards and in later years GCC applied for exclusive rights to the ground. In 1883 a motion was introduced in the Georgetown Town Council by GCC seeking exclusive privileges for the use of Parade Ground. At that time Parade Ground was also used by the Council and the military for football as well as other games such as stilt walking, donkey racing, sack racing, pig racing and rifle shooting. GCC may not have been in favour of sharing the grounds with other sports and the motion was defeated.

This setback forced GCC to set about acquiring its own ground. In 1884 an area of about eight acres of abandoned sugar cane fields owned by frenchman Joseph Bourda was set aside by colonial authorities for sports activities. The eastern portion was reserved for soccer, now occupied by the Georgetown Football Club and the western portion for cricket, now the home of GCC.

The task of converting the former cane fields into areas suitable for cricket was no simple one, taking six months to complete. A pavilion was erected at the north western side of the new ground and saman trees planted around the outside of the ground to provide shade. The new Bourda ground was opened on 26 December 1885 (Boxing Day) with a match between West Indies and the World, which the West Indies won by two wickets.

GCC continued to host cricket matches and by 1886 it had expanded to host other sports such as tennis, rugby and quoits. In 1887 the first Inter-colonial match was played at Bourda. As crowds increased GCC erected a new single-storey pavilion in 1910, which was later raised to two storeys. In 1930 the ground hosted its first Test match, in which West Indies earned its first ever Test victory.

The awarding of the 2007 World Cup to the Caribbean signalled the end of the Bourda as an international venue with the construction of a state-of-the-art cricket arena at Providence, on the outskirts of Georgetown. The ground, however, continues to be used for first-class and regional cricket.

Today Bourda remains one of the largest cricket grounds in the Caribbean with a seating capacity of about 20,000. The Ladies stand looks like an old baseball cantilever stand, but others, such as the Rohan Kanhai stand, are more modern. Stands at Bourda are named after famous Guyana cricketers such as Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai and Lance Gibbs. An unfenced area known as "the mound" is often the liveliest part of the ground, with music and DJs.

The ground is prone to flooding, as is most of Georgetown. Water often has to be pumped out of the ditch surrounding the ground to get the ground to dry quickly. It rains a lot in Georgetown and many matches have been abandoned here. The wicket is slow and good for batting, with a fast outfield.

While fans at Bourda are passionate about their cricket, they are also among the most volatile, with mini riots and pitch invasions not uncommon. The worst incident was in 1979 during a World Series Cricket SuperTest when the pavilion was ransacked and players hid in the changing rooms wearing their helmets for added protection. A decade earlier police had to escort the umpires out of the ground after England held out for a draw, with Guyanese Lance Gibbs bowling splendidly, and two decades prior play was stopped by bottles thrown onto the ground when Guyanese Cliff McWatt was run out.