Benjamin Vexed By Cricket Crisis
He is undoubtedly one of the most decorated athletes to have originated from this land, winning multiple medals at various athletics Meets at home and around the world, but Victor Winston Churchill Benjamin, a former outstanding athlete and cricketer, in an interview with Kaieteur Sport recently, expressed vexation with the current imbroglio in Guyana ‘s cricket.
Benjamin or ‘Benjie’ as he is familiarly called said the decline in the standard of cricket in Guyana is due primarily to the quality of administration that followed after the departure of the Brigadier General Norman McLean management.
“The decline really started in the mid 90s’ when the previous President Chetram Singh took over and I think it was due to bad planning and I can safely say this because if one is to look at the period 1970-1992, cricket was vibrant and successful, but after that it was a slow and steady decline,” Benjamin recalled.
According to the former national athlete and cricketer, during those years, the leadership in cricket was exemplary and praised McLean for his astute supervision of the then administration.
He pointed out that owing to McLean’s administrative proficiency which was complemented by individuals with similar abilities, Guyana used to have excellent representation on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) a feature he says is lacking presently and that is making it difficult for them to advocate on Guyana’s behalf.
Not wanting to go down the road of gloom, Benjamin said that the current scenario could be corrected, but it must start with the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) arming itself with the quality of personnel that are competent and willing to articulate our own issues at the WICB level.
“I feel personally that if we want to revisit those years when we had real success at the local and regional levels, the current administration would be well advised to take pages out of McLean’s book.”
Benjamin was adamant that should they do that, Guyana’s cricket could once again reach the heights that it reached not so long ago and be a force to reckon again in the Region.
A former Coach, Physical Trainer / Instructor for most of the national teams, Benjamin felt that another way in which Guyana‘s cricket could return is through the re-introduction of the game in schools along with consistent coaching at the junior level.
The former Guyana Defence Force Officer, who captained the Force’s team to seven consecutive titles at the First Division level, said that during the McLean led administration cricket coaching and competitions were vibrant and that gave rise to a high standard at the senior level hence Guyana’s outstanding performances in regional tournaments.
For someone who captained the likes of former national players Milton Pydanna, Leslaine and Clayton Lambert, Mark Grenville, Vibert Johashen, Sydney Matthews, Jerry Anjus, Orin Bailey, Dennis Hewitt, Charles Crandon and others, Benjamin also cited other related components as crucial for the holistic re-development of our cricket such as good ground and pitch preparations, competent and qualified umpires, affordable prices for equipment, adequate period of encampment prior to tournaments and regular competitions.
Born on the 5th of May, 1945 at Courtland Village, Berbice, Benjamin informed this newspaper that he is willing if called upon to serve his country of birth in whatever capacity that the authorities see fit, be it in coaching or fitness training and even urged them to initiate contact with those who’ve retired, but are still capable of making fruitful contributions to the development of sports locally.
All this, he believed could be accomplished with an administration that is willing to engage former players with the requisite experience and knowledge of the game, and those who came through the era that Guyana performed with distinction and provided a number of players to the West Indies team.
Benjamin was high in praise of McLean, who he described as one of the best administrators of his time and someone who the WICB had high regards for.
“We still have a load of talented players here, but unless their talent is complemented with a strong administration and competent resource personnel then all that will happen is what you see happening right now, that is some of them reaching to a certain level and sticking right there,” Benjamin noted.
The former national athlete also gave his thoughts on the state of Track and Field in Guyana and that will come in a subsequent issue.