Bob Simpson Bittersweet Summary of Guyana – Its history & its cricket. It is hardly a vision to conjure up area delights or even enjoyable stays, yet in so many ways. It is a contradiction ‘Often the country is wracked with political and racial unrest and the occasional riot a cricket ‘Yet provided their cricket is not interrupted.
The Guyanese can be the friendliest of all the inhabitants of the West Indies restored from the riots during the World Series tour 2 a few years ago with an outfield and wicket to equal almost any in the world. Guyana has produced some of the greatest West Indies cricketers, including Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, and Alvin Kallicharan.
The legendary batsman Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharran were of Indian descent and Guyana has proportionately the highest Indian population in the West Indies. The Guyanese are probably the most passionate and knowledgeable supporters of cricket in the Caribbean.
Provided they are not denied the allocated time for cricket they are a delight to play before and the fairest crowd in the West Indies. We had an example of this during the fast official Australian tour. ‘The early part of our tour was marked with a lot of controversies through the WSC split ‘Of the first to Tests, the WSC players were included in the West Indies team.
Unfortunately in Guyana troubles developed and the WSC West Indies group had a split with the West Indies Board and withdrew from the team. A new team was selected and amid a great deal of tension and expected trouble we were escorted to the ground by military police through deserted streets that had been specially prepared for our rushed trip from the hotel.
We were expecting the worst as with sirens screaming our bus skidded to a stop within a protective cordon outside the ground. Much to our surprise and delight, however, the capacity crowd both inside and outside the ground rose to its feet as the word spread that we had arrived and applauded us all the way into the dressing room.
Their welcome continued as we warmed up and the ring of armed soldiers who stood 10m apart inside the ground was withdrawn by lunch as the authorities realized there would be no trouble and all the public wanted was a good game of cricket.
Their support continued unabated throughout the match and as the game waxed and waned and fortunes fluctuated until Australia finally won the Test, there was never a sign of the ill-natured behavior that has marred Test matches in the past. While we may not have had too ‘many problems at the cricket, the same could not be said for the city, 25 services broke down and for the last five days of the visit, we were virtual, without water and electricity.
Both these essential supplies were restricted to a few hours a day and during the Test. The water was never available for a shower. In fact, during this period the only chance we had of having a wash of ‘bath was if the maid had remembered to run your bath during the permitted time when the water came on so that you might find two few inches of the precious fluid in your tub on your return from the cricket.
The electricity also provided many ‘worries with no power for the lights, if, cooking of food and very little laundry available. “Most of us became expert trackers in finding our way up and down the darkened stairs and corridors from the seventh-floor rooms to the foyer with only a small candle to guide us.
Yet throughout this the Locals, who ‘were probably suffering more than we were, retained their humor and did everything in their power to make up for any inconvenience we may have been suffering. ‘Thirteen years previously, the Australian team bad also faced rather a dilemma in Guyana.
On that occasion, the local umpires had decided to go on strike because ‘only one of their members had been selected to officiate in the Test. This had been brought about because the West Indies officials didn’t think there were two umpires of Test standard and had brought in the experienced Cortez Jordan from Barbados.
After nearly eight weeks of debate, local umpires stood firm and went on strike. This left us with less than 24 hours to the Test with only one umpire and it was suggested to me that umpires should be sought from the nearest island; Trinidad darkened stairs and corridors from the seventh-floor rooms to the foyer with only a small candle to guide us.
Yet throughout this the locals who were probably suffering more than we were, retained their humor and did everything in their power to make up for any inconvenience we may have been suffering. Thirteen years previously, the Australian team bad also faced rather a dilemma in Guyana.
On that occasion, the local umpires had decided to go on strike because ‘only one of their members had been selected to officiate in the Test.
This had been brought about because the West Indies officials didn’t think there were two umpires of Test standard and had brought in the experienced Cortez Jordan from Barbados.
After nearly eight weeks of debate, local umpires stood firm and went on strike. This left us with less than 24 hours to the Test match with only one umpire and it was suggested to me that an umpire should be sought from the nearest island, Trinidad
Therefore, I agreed and gave them a list of umpires we would accept and one that we didn’t think was suitable.
In the meantime, just in case umpires couldn’t get there in time it was also agreed that the former West Indies player, Jerry Gomes, who was then a West Indies selector and the team manager, would substitute until the official umpire arrived.
‘Next morning I was amazed when I arrived at the ground for the Test to be greeted by the one umpire who I had said was not suitable. During my quick visit ‘the officials had them suggesting that none of the others could be found and we ‘would have to make do with the umpire now on hand.
Obviously, that was not acceptable to the Australians and a compromise was finally reached and Gomes, ‘whom I knew was an Honorable man but who had never umpired a first-class match let alone a Test, stood for the entire game.
I must admit it was the first and last time in my experience where the umpire was the opposition selector and manager and who at the end of each day’s play fulfilled his other commitment, where, still in his umpiring clothes, he vaulted the fence and gave his opinion as the expert commentator of the “day’s proceedings.
‘As it turned out, Australia lost and no fault could be found with the Umpiring of Gomes. Such is the life, however, in Guyana, and I have little doubt that the Australians will probably run into some unusual incidents to remember the country by.