Anand Sookram was a table tennis champion and cricketer

Dear Editor,

Anand Sookram a champion ‘south paw’ tennis player and cricketer has passed on.

I would like to thank the unnamed contributor to the letters column of your Wednesday May 10th edition, through whom I learnt of the passing of Anand Sookram at the age of 69, and wish to share some more information through your medium.

I was fortunate to get in contact with a close colleague of his and opening batsman for Port Mourant and Everest Cricket Club Isaac Surinarain who provided most of the under mentioned information which should be of interest to sport enthusiasts.

Anand’s early claim to fame came through his prowess at table tennis, inspired by his coach Elik Nankoo, a Berbician gentleman who coached at the Port Mourant Community Centre. Sookram went on to become Junior Champion of Port Mourant Community Centre Club, Berbice, and then put Guyana on the TT map by winning the Caribbean Junior Table Tennis Championship. At the senior level he won the Berbice and Guyana National Championship competition, and was runner up in the annual Berbice Sportsman of the year award (I am not certain of which year). A very important fact is that Sookram played against a Korean national player named Dholjuan Lee at Queen’s College in a table tennis match which was watched by Dr Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham and Peter D’Aguiar. Sookram was beaten, but gave a creditable performance and was commended by the Korean international. Incidentally at the same venue Isaaac Surinarain played a two-set match against an English national champion player, Richard Bergmann.

In the sport of cricket he was a useful batsman but was essentially selected as a bowler, possessing the useful ability to bowl left arm medium pace and orthodox leg spin to good effect. He bowled with immaculate accuracy in The Rothman’s Cup Final(circa 1972) and helped to strangle the stroke play of the Etwaroo brothers in particular to hand the Everest Cricket Club its first victory in the knock format under the captaincy of the late David Persaud. Anand possessed a great cricketing brain and liked to devise strategies to get his opponents out. I remember him telling my late father David Persaud in my presence that table tennis helped to sharpen his cricket skills and he liked to play tennis at every opportunity while in the pavilion awaiting his turn to do battle on the field.

Anand’s cremation in New York on Thursday, 4th May was fittingly attended by many of his fellow Berbice cricketers, notably stalwarts Sew (Black Boy) Shivnarine former WI Test cricketer, Isaac Surinarain, Derek Kallicharran, the Beasmonie Brothers Gopie and Vinoo, Kamal Singh and the Etwaroo brothers, among others.

On a personal note, I owe Anand a debt of gratitude for encouraging me to bowl googlies when he saw me delivering my left arm Chinaman deliveries in our Queenstown backyard. He immediately put me on a crash course to learn to bowl the “wrong un”, as it is sometimes called.

To his grieving widow and 5 children I extend our deepest sympathy.

I would like to take this opportunity to urge the sporting authorities to do research into our past sporting legends and their legacies in an effort to pay tribute to these erstwhile individuals, but also with a view to providing some inspiration to aspiring youngsters.

May Bhagwan Ram grant his atman eternal rest.

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Persaud

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