Charlie Stayers

Full name: Sven Conrad Stayers  
Born: 09 Jun 1937, Georgetown, Guyana
Died: 06 Jan 2005, London, England
Batting: Right-hand batsman
Bowling: Right-arm fast
Teams: Guyana (FC: 1958-1961); West Indies (Test: 1962); Bombay (FC: 1962/1963); All teams
Club: British Guiana Cricket Club (later Guyana Sports Club), Georgetown
School: St Stanislaus College, Georgetown
Lists of matches and more detailed statistics

Stayers was a bowling all-rounder, a fast bowler who was a capable lower-order batsman. As a schoolboy at St Stanislaus College, he was a "tearaway" fast bowler who terrified opposing batsmen in the Wight Cup competition in the mid 1950s.

A tall elegant cricketer, he had a somewhat short and leisurely approach to the wicket, and delivered the ball from a high upright position. Fast and hostile, he usually employed an attacking field, which adversely affected his economy rate. He was also quite accurate, forcing the batsmen to play. Furthermore, he swung the ball both ways and had an effective bouncer, which he used judiciously.

Stayers was a free-scoring batsman who had a relaxed upright stance. He hit the ball hard and cleanly, specialising in drives in the arc between extra cover and mid on. He was particularly comfortable against pace bowling, but also able against spin. He normally batted at Number 8, but occasionally at No. 7 or No. 9.

In March 1958, Stayers made his debut for Guyana at Bourda against Pakistan, opening the bowling with Pat Legall, another 20-year-old. It was the first time in many years that Guyana fielded a pair of genuine fast bowlers. With his third ball in first class cricket, Stayers forced Hanif Mohammad to play the ball onto his stumps and then bowled Waqar Hassan for a duck. Pakistan was dismissed for 227 and asked to follow on, with Stayers taking 4 for 78.

In his third first class match, against Barbados at Kensington Oval in 1959, Stayers scored 120 to take Guyana from 87 for 6 to to 316 all out. In 1961, in the inter-territorial final against Barbados at Bourda, he scored 83 to help Guyana win the match and retain the regional title it held on to since 1956. He also took 6 for 70 in the first innings and 3 for 64 in the second innings of this match.

This game, which proved to be the last in which Stayers would play for his country, witnessed the finest all-round performance of his career. It was the culmination of a season in which he enjoyed unprecedented success. In the first game of the championship two weeks earlier, Stayers had achieved the finest bowling figures in an innings in his first-class career - 6 for 63 in 18 overs against the Combined Islands at Bourda.

In the three matches which British Guiana played in this October 1961 regional competition, Stayers captured 23 wickets for 401 runs with an average of 17.43 runs a wicket and scored 117 runs in four innings with an average of 39 runs an innings. This impressive all-round performance enabled him to gain selection for the West Indies in the Test series in 1962 against an Indian touring team led by the Nawab of Pataudi.

(In January Stayers was in the squad for the first Test against England in Barbados, but the Jamaican Chester Watson was preferred as the partner for Wes Hall, who by then had become the region's leading fast bowler.)

Stayers' Test debut occurred at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad in February 1962 in the first Test of a series against India. He scored four runs, but took 3 for 65 and 1 for 20 in a game which the West Indies won by 10 wickets. He then played in the next three Tests, at Sabina Park, Kensington Oval and again at the Queen's Park Oval, where the fourth Test was shifted from Bourda because of political disturbances in Georgetown.

In the series Stayers scored 58 runs at an average of 19.33 runs an innings and captured nine wickets at 40.44 runs a wicket. His surprising ineffectiveness with the ball was due partly to the fact that he bowled at reduced pace, apparently because of an allegation that his action at top pace was suspect. Jamaican Lester King, who replaced Stayers for the final Test in Jamaica, took 7 wickets in the match.

Later in 1962, Stayers, Lester King and Chester Watson went to India, where they were contracted by India to play and coach fast bowlers on the sub-continent. Stayers represented Bombay in the Ranji Trophy, and West Zone. He took 14 wickets at an average of 22.92 runs a wicket, including a career-best of 6 for 36 in an innings. He also scored 91 runs at an average of 30.33 runs an innings, with a highest score of 53.

At the end of his contract in India Stayers did not return to the West Indies, but signed as professional for Enfield in the Lancashire League instead. He remained in England to study, and later had a nomadic career in health management in Africa, North America - and London, where he died in 2005, at age 67.

Surprisingly, his first-class career ended prematurely, at the young age of 25 before he reached his peak. Despite this, Stayers' contribution to Guyana cricket was substantial, because he played a major role in keeping Guyana at the top of West Indies cricket in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In these years he was by far Guyana's most successful bowler, even eclipsing Lance Gibbs, who began his Test career before Stayers made his first-class debut.

This little-known fact is clearly reflected in the statistics for that period. For example, in the four inter-territorial games in which Stayers and Gibbs represented British Guiana, Stayers took 28 wickets for 512 runs or an average cost of 18.28 runs a wicket, while Gibbs had 14 victims for 524 runs or a cost of 36 runs a wicket.

Stayers developed a reputation of being a reliable batsman, with excellent temperament, especially in times of crisis. He rescued British Guiana on several occasions with the bat. On one such occasion in 1959, when he and Joe Solomon put on 43 runs for the seventh wicket in difficult circumstances to enable their team to gain a first-innings lead over Jamaica, the Daily Chronicle Sports Editor, Charles Chichester, described them as "our two best crisis batsmen."

Stayers, in fact, is one of the finest all-rounders produced by Guyana. Only four players who represented Guyana in its 140 years of first-class cricket (until 2004) have matched or surpassed Stayers' career performance as an all-rounder. These cricketers are Edward Wright, an Englishman who played in the 1880s and 1890s, Cyril "Snuffy" Browne, a Barbadian who played for British Guiana between 1909 and 1939, Roger Harper and Carl Hooper.

(Condensed from an article by Professor Winston McGowan)

Batting and Fielding Averages
Team Format Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St
Guyana FC 9 13 2 336 120 30.54 1 1 3 0
All FC 17 21 4 485 120 28.52 1 2 3 0
West Indies Test 4 4 1 58 35* 19.33 0 0 0 0
Bowling Averages
Team Format Balls Mdns Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave 4w 5w 10wM SR Econ
Guyana FC 1843 40 1090 45 6-63 9-134 24.22 3 3 0 40.96 3.55
All FC 3061 70 1775 68 6-36 9-121 26.10 3 4 0 45.01 4.47
West Indies Test 636 20 364 9 3-65 4-85 40.44 0 0 0 70.67 3.43