Clifford McWatt

Full name: Clifford Aubrey McWatt
Born: 01 Feb 1922, Georgetown, Guyana
Died: 20 Jul 1997, Ottawa, Canada
Batting: Left-hand batsman
Fielding: Wicketkeeper
Teams: Guyana (FC: 1944-1956); West Indies (Test: 1954-1955); All teams
Lists of matches and more detailed statistics

Cliff McWatt played for British Guiana from 1943-44 to 1956-57, and was one of the wicket-keepers tried by West Indies after Clyde Walcott injured his back and was forced to give up the job.

McWatt's Inter-Colonial cricket career began in March 1944 when he was picked as Guyana's wicket-keeper for two matches in Trinidad. In picking McWatt the Guyana selectors preferred him to his arch-rival Carlton Reece, a Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) player who was generally acknowledged to have an edge over McWatt in batting, while the reverse was true in their wicket-keeping.

It is not exactly clear how this rivalry affected McWatt's career, but the fact that both men often played together on the same team for Guyana suggests that they were highly valued players and that the competition must have been very keen when one replaced the other.

Reece and McWatt appeared together, for example, in two matches against Barbados during September/October 1944. In the next two matches, however, against Trinidad at Bourda in October 1945, Reece played as wicket-keeper and opening batsman while McWatt was in England, serving with the Royal Air Force. McWatt returned to Guyana in mid-1946, and later that year also returned to the Guyana side for two matches against Barbados at Bourda.

In one of these matches against Trinidad in March 1947, when Jeff Stollmeyer and Gerry Gomez flogged the Guyanese bowlers - Gaskin, Trim, Baijnauth and Norman Wight - during a third wicket partnership worth 434 runs, McWatt came to Guyana's rescue in their second innings with a superbly defiant knock of 123 not out. It was his first inter-colonial century which, together with his first innings score of 56 run out, gives him a total of 179 runs in the match for only once out.

To the end of his days he was slightly rueful about this run out: after his partner JL Thomas had executed a splendid square cut that was certain to bring runs, McWatt had charged down to the other end, only to find Thomas still there, in his crease, admiring his stroke.

Between 1947 and 1953 McWatt represented Guyana regularly as a wicket-keeper-batsman, although he never again equalled the success he achieved against Trinidad in March 1947. In 1952, because he felt that his wicket-keeping form had fallen off, he requested selection purely for his batting; but the selectors would not listen, and he was forced to miss both games against Jamaica in October that year.

As if to confound the selectors, he returned to the Guyana side as a batsman in the first game of the Trinidad tour of 1953, and vindicated himself with an innings of 128 that remains the highest score of his career. His 54 not out in the next Trinidad game meant that he had an aggregate of 208 runs in the two Trinidad games for an average of 104. He had reached his peak, and set himself a standard that could not be realistically maintained in the remaining three years of his career.

McWatt was picked for the West Indian tour of India in 1948/49, although he did not appear in any of the five Tests because of the established presence of Clyde Walcott as wicket-keeper-batsman. He was not picked for the West Indian tour of England in 1950 when his own team mate from the British Guiana Cricket Club (BGCC), Robert Christiani served as deputy to Walcott.

Then he lost his chance to be considered for the Australian tour of 1951/52 when he sustained a fractured finger in taking a hard return from Ganesh Persaud during the first of two Guyana/Jamaica matches in March 1951. When, finally, he did represent West Indies in all five Test matches during the 1953/54 English tour, McWatt scored a total of 198 runs for an average of 33. Not at all bad for a number eight batsman! (Taken from an article by Michael Da Silva.)

McWatt was a useful left-hand batsman and a nimble keeper, who was Walcott's deputy on the 1948-49 tour of India but did not get his Test chance until five years later. Then he played in all five Tests against England in 1953-54, making some useful runs at No 8, though his chancy style led one headline writer to call him McCatt - for his many lives.

In Georgetown, his eighth-wicket stand with JK Holt (who was to die a few days before him) might have saved the follow-on. But with the stand on 99, McWatt was run out. Though McWatt himself later said he was out by about two yards, the crowd began hurling missiles at the umpire, Badge Menzies, and play was halted for ten minutes.

McWatt was chosen once more against Australia a year later. He emigrated to Canada in 1986 but remained a close follower of the game. Cliff McWatt died on July 12, 1997, aged 75, after a car crash in Canada. (Taken from a Wisden article.)

Batting and fielding averages
Team Format Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 6s Ct St
Guyana FC 24 44 4 1185 128 29.62 2 4   23 3
All FC 41 65 7 1673 128 28.84 2 7   45 6
West Indies Test 6 9 2 202 54 28.85 0 2 0 9 1
Bowling averages
Team Format Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Guyana FC 24   110 89 1 1/17   89.00 4.85 110.0 0 0 0
All FC 41   134 105 2 1/16 1/16 52.50 4.70 67.0 0 0 0
West Indies Test 6 1 24 16 1 1/16 1/16 16.00 4.00 24.0 0 0 0