Preserving our cricketing heritage

Recently I paid a visit to Trinidad and while there made a remarkable discovery. I was invited to the Queens Park Cricket Club which in my youth had been a favourite place. Great uncles on my mother’s side of the family had been founding members of that famous Club and as a boy I went there to see our West Indian cricket heroes play. Sweet are the memories. The Oval in sunlight. The green mountains in the background. The buzz of excitement in the schoolboys’ stand and the quiet, quiet as the first ball bowled. I remember seeing Andy Ganteaume make his famous century against England in 1948 in the only Test innings he was ever allowed to play. I remember the grace of Worrell, the thunder of Walcott, the elegance of Stollmeyer, Robert Christiani dancing down the pitch to hit boundary after boundary, the wiles of Ferguson, the deftness of Rupert Tang Choon in the field, the fast bowling of Lance Pierre smooth as velvet. So many heroes. So many memories came back as I visited after so long.

I found the QPCC completely changed, expanded, modernized, transformed since I was a boy. I talked to the CEO, Richard Mowser, and was shown around. It is a vibrant place, humming with activity, a centre of cricket but also an important venue for hockey, football, squash and I think I saw a notice advertising CrossFit training. The Club is practical about raising money by letting out its excellent facilities and it shows every sign of being a well-run commercial enterprise which Clubs have to be these days. With cricket at its heart still, long may Queens Park evolve and thrive.

But I was there primarily to visit the QPCC Cricket Heritage Museum. Before my visit I had not even known this museum existed. Quite simply, it is a marvel, a revelation, a place every West Indian cricket lover should find the time to visit and be enthralled. I spent a few glorious hours there in the company of the museum’s Curator, Stephen Almandoz, who does the job for the love of his Club and the game. His talk is fascinating – he himself is a wondrous storehouse of cricketing knowledge and history and folklore – and the museum he tends so lovingly is an endlessly interesting display of Club and Trinidad, but also West Indies, cricket memorabilia.

ian on sunday I hardly know where to start in describing the treasures. There are the founding documents of the Club, the original leases, the old minute books. There are the scorecards of yesteryear, plaques for honours won and medals and scores of trophies in their cases. There are the hundreds and hundreds of photographs going back a hundred years, some indeed dating from 1896 when the Club was founded. There is an original turnstile from the entrance to the Club through which passed spectators since the start. There is the actual piece of the pitch for the 50th Test match played at the Oval – along with the balls used by both teams – West Indies and South Africa – with one set markedly more battered than the other!

Stephen Almandoz described to me how he discovered in what he called “the dungeon” an immense box he called “the coffin” in which were found ancient pimpled-rubber gloves and bats and wickets and programmes going back to the 1920s and caps and jackets and scrolls. And he inherited the memorabilia of men like Gerry Gomez and Phillip Thomson, priceless cornucopias belonging to men who loved the game and, in the case of Gerry, had played it to the hilt at the highest level. The museum grew and grew. Former players bequeathed and loaned astonishing items. In a special case you can see the three bats, with the red splashes on their blades, which Brian Lara used to score his world records: 375, 501 not out and 400 not out – “divine pieces of willow” indeed. I stayed a while and worshipped at that shrine.

The Cricket Museum is wonderful to see. The Gods of cricket must look down in joy. And Stephen Almandoz tells me that only a tenth of all the pictures, books and memorabilia he has collected is on display. Never mind. What is not seen is safely kept for an even more glorious future.

What also is important is that the museum is very much a repository of West Indies cricket history. It is a regional cricket treasure house. Guyana cricketing heroes and teams, for instance, feature prominently on the walls and in the display cases. I was astonished and pleased to see a lovely piece of sculpture, depicting Batsman and Bowler, on display – it is the work of one of our own master artists, Winslow Craig. As I wandered around in that remarkable trove of cricket history and listened to the Curator’s enthralling commentary I thought what an outstanding act of preservation and presentation has been accomplished. I went to the bar afterwards with Stephen Almandoz and Richard Mowser and was happy to raise quite a few toasts to the Club’s future and to its world-class Cricket Museum. And I am glad to say that to do so the best Guyanese rums were very much available.

Returning home to Guyana, I reflected on my experience at the Queens Park Cricket Club. What has been achieved there in preserving the history of West Indies cricket is extraordinary. The tremendous, ongoing effort to identify, collect, store, document and display this important part of our heritage – this “imaginative possession” belonging to us all – is worthy of heartfelt praise. I came away with a feeling of excitement and a sense of pride. And so at home my attention naturally turned to another Club as famous as, and considerably older than, the Queens Park. Just down the road. The Georgetown Cricket Club. The GCC. Bourda. I have been a member there for nearly 60 years, I think I may be the longest standing member, but lately I have hardly gone there. So many memories of that hallowed cricket ground. So many historical snapshots in my mind. Perhaps it is time I pay a visit and see what is happening there … But then again, perhaps not.

Latest in Features, Sunday

default placeholder

Can Guyana afford parking meters?

‘Cities love meters – they are a “captive” income source. … unless you know someone or are a “public figure”, the city will tow your car if you have too many tickets.

20160629Development Watch29

Government spending and the economy

Last week the Private Sector Commission (PSC) urged the government to increase its spending to stimulate the needed aggregate demand to sustain business activity.

default placeholder

Peru’s president-elect demands freedoms in Venezuela

Peru’s pro-business President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won his country’s elections by a hair with the last-minute help of a leftist party, but — judging from what he told me in an interview — he won’t budge on his criticism of Venezuela and other repressive regimes.

default placeholder

Public financial management: 1966 – present (Final)

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles on the above aimed at highlighting the extent of our achievements in the post-Independence period.

LUCAS STOCK INDEXThe Lucas Stock Index (LSI) rose 0.54 per cent during the third period of trading in June 2016. The stocks of six companies were traded with 79,573 shares changing hands. There were three Climbers and one Tumbler. The stocks of Banks DIH (DIH) rose 1.98 per cent on the sale of 18,757 while the stocks of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) rose 5.26 per cent on the sale of 41,667 shares. In addition, the stocks of Demerara Tobacco Company (DTC) rose 1.51 per cent on the sale of 13,603 shares. In contrast, the stocks of Demerara Bank Limited (DBL) fell 5.26 per cent on the sale of 4,324 shares.  In the meanwhile, the stocks of Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (BTI) and Republic Bank Limited (RBL) remained unchanged on the sale of 222 and 1,000 shares respectively.

Massy and Guyana (Part 1)

Steadfast Last year, this writer looked at the Massy Group of Companies formerly Neal and Massy to gain an understanding of the operations of this company which has been doing business in Guyana for the past 48 years. 


Value-added performance of the forest sub-sector: Erratic, weak, declining

Erratic Last week’s column highlighted what I consider to be a most distinctive feature of the extractive forest sub-sector’s performance in Guyana’s economy, during the past decade.

default placeholder

The UK bids Europe farewell

On June 23 by a small majority, the British people voted to remove themselves from the European Union (EU). The decision has consequences for the Caribbean.

default placeholder

What would life be without sport?

I wonder what it would be like to exclude sport completely from one’s life for, say, one year? No playing sport, no watching it, no reading it no discussing it no thinking about it even.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: