On Lance Gibbs

Date Published: 
Stabroek News
Pryor Jonas


Beginning this Saturday well known sports commentator Pryor Jonas will start a series of sports features to be published once weekly dealing specifically with past greats from Guyana.

He will start with former Guyana and West Indies off spin bowler Lance Gibbs who once held the world record for Test wickets and also is the first spinner to top the 300-wicket mark.

This is the first of a series of articles featuring the first two greatest cricketers our country has so far produced: Lance Gibbs, Rohan Kanhai. I have mentioned them in order of chronology, not magnitude. For to me, Rohan Kanhai was the greater of the two. Clive Lloyd, though of similar breadth of greatness, was of a much more recent vintage.

Here are three questions for old-timers like myself or for youthful students of the game like yourself. They are posed in order of research necessity. For they will entail some research - unless you are really sharp or, if you are an old-timer, your memory still is tops.

  1. What is Lance Gibbs' full name?
  2. When was our first world-record-holder born?
  3. Whom did he eclipse to become world record holder?

I was glad when this newspaper invited me to write again on sport - gladder still when I was told the reasons. To me, one reason stood out more than all the others multiplied together: namely, helping the down-and-out legitimate old-timer who represented his country in some game or other.

Let's take Bud Parks, for instance. Bud is dead and gone now, but whenever I saw him in the flesh, tall and gaunt, painting road-signs in the heat of the day, I would stop and dismount; I had to. Later, on ascertaining my name - I wouldn't tell him because I knew he'd find out - he'd ask me why. I'd only smile. He could never know why. Never!

If I were to ask you - not you old-timer, but you, young man, once you are forty years or under - if I were to ask you whether you knew that another legitimate great footballer, Lewis "Waterboat" Weithers was still around, do you know what I suspect you would say? Lewis Who?

Forgive me. I have just let my emotion run away with me a little. The rest of this article - there will be several such - will not be about football or boxing, which I love next to soccer, but about cricket - that most wonderful of games when everyone suddenly becomes an authority, perhaps even an expert, once he (today it's very often she) has played the game or read about it a little.

All I'm asking you, in addition to your expertise, is that you be Guyanese also. I'm inviting you to come with me to Bourda - the lovely Bourda sward. It's Gibbs' back yard, you know - for Test cricket, that is - as it was Kanhai's and for me, Sobers'. If you were happy to talk about local first-class cricket also, then I'd have to take you a few blocks further north - to Queenstown, not Bourda, to the DCC, not the GCC.

But let's talk about Test cricket, not Case Cup. And let's go back on Friday 16th and Sunday 19th. The game, like the world, was much more leisurely then. Though the passions remained, the Sabbath was discreetly observed. No one dared play Test cricket on a Sunday a generation ago.

It's the 102nd Test Match that we were engaging in. And it was Gibbs' 24th. The West Indies were opposing Australia. Believe it or not, we beat them by the handsome margin of 212 runs. Here are the bald statistics:

West Indies 355 (Kanhai 89) and 180 Australia 179 (Gibbs 3 for 51) and 144 (Gibbs 6 for 29)