Milton Pydanna: Digicel Cricketer No. 30
MILTON Pydanna was an excellent wicketkeeper and useful lower order right-handed batsman who played with distinction for Berbice and Guyana and in three One Day Internationals for the West Indies in a 16-year first-class career between 1971 and 1988. He was an integral part of the Police Sports Club in the local first division tournament and his quality work both behind and in front of the stumps caused the selectors to include him in the national team to contest the 1971 Shell Shield Tournament.
He acquitted himself well, playing in all four matches of the competition as well as against the touring Indians and finished his first season with 115 runs at 23.00 per innings, gloving five catches and effecting a solitary stumping. The wicket-keeping position for the next two seasons were his own as he excelled in 1972 with 18 dismissals including seven lightning stumpings and in 1973 he claimed a further 19 victims three of whom could not get back in on time.
While Pydanna’s glovework to both pace and spin was exceptional, his batting deteriorated to 17.50 per innings in 1972 and to just 13.12 in 1973. In the following season (1974) he subsequently lost his place to Lonsdale Skinner after effecting ten dismissals in three games but could average only 11.60 with the bat.
His exploits at the club level again forced the selectors to play him throughout the 1975 season but again he faltered with the bat which eventually caused him to lose his place once more to Skinner and the Demerara Cricket Club stumper Stephen Bamfield. In fact at the end of 1977, after seven seasons, Pydanna had effected 71 dismissals but had only aggregated 528 runs at 15.52 per innings and had only one fifty to his name.
While he was having difficulty with the willow, the Trinidadian Deryck Murray and the Barbadian David Murray were called for West Indian duty ahead of him primarily because of their positive contributions with the bat. Nevertheless, he fought his way back into the national team in 1978 and remained the country’s first-choice wicketkeeper for the next decade.
In 1979, he registered his first first-class century (127) for Berbice against Demerara in the Jones Cup final and in the following year he cracked an unbeaten 117 for Guyana against Jamaica in Montego Bay in the regional Shell Shield competition.
In 1980-81, with the international career of Deryck Murray ended, Pydanna was chosen to be a part of the squad to Pakistan as David Murray’s deputy. He contested a few tour matches and played in two of the three One Day Internationals at Karachi and Sialkot. In the Karachi game he took a catch to dismiss the great Javed Miandad off the fiery Colin Croft but did not get a chance to bat as the regional side won handsomely by four wickets.
In the next encounter he stumped Miandad off Viv Richards and had the added joy of hitting the winning runs as the West Indies swept to a seven-wicket victory. He did not feature in the third game in which the visitors made a clean sweep of the series.
With the advent of the Jamaican Jeff Dujon who was working in tandem with David Murray, Pydanna was out of the international reckoning for a couple of years until the latter became involved in the ‘rebel’ tour to South Africa in 1983. He was included in the party to India in 1983-84 and played in the fifth and final One Day International at Guwahati where the West Indies formalised a 5-nil thrashing on the hosts.
He continued to be engaged at the first-class level until 1988 when he finally bowed out with 85 appearances during which he accumulated 2 223 runs at 20.02 per innings. He also pouched 152 catches and effected 36 stumpings.
Pydanna currently resides overseas.