Volume Two of ‘History of Cricket in Guyana’ launched

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By Avenash Ramzan

A Stubborn Mediocrity is the tagline of Professor Clem Seecharan’s second volume of Hand-in-Hand’s History of Cricket in Guyana.

It was quite fitting that several outstanding sons of the soil, who helped shaped that history were present on Friday evening to witness the launch of the 758-page book, designed and produced by Hansib Publications Limited of the UK.

The author poses with Volume Two

The Georgetown Cricket Club pavilion was packed with current and former national and West Indies cricketers, administrators, political figures, members of the diplomatic corps and special invitees, all special guests of Hand-in-Hand Mutual Fire and Life Insurance Companies.

The publication, which captures the history of the game from 1898-1914, is the second in a series, documenting Guyana’s rich cricketing history as part of the company’s 150th anniversary.

Volume One: The Foundation documents the period 1865 to 1897.

Seecharan, an Emeritus Professor of History at London Metropolitan University, and the author of several historical publications, commended the insurance company for seeing the need to pursue such a publication.

He expressed immense gratitude to Chief Executive Officer Keith Evelyn for his generosity and support, pointing out that this “demanding but rewarding undertaking” could not have materialised “without his (Evelyn’s) encouragement and unfailing enthusiasm.”

Part of the audience

“Whatever the direction and character of West Indies cricket in future, I am pleased beyond measure that Hand-in-Hand is giving me the privilege to bring to fruition this fascinating aspect of the life of our country,” Professor Seecharan noted.

He continued, “It is entirely appropriate that this great Guyanese company should be associated with this endeavour; it was founded in 1865- the year of the first First-Class match in the region: Barbados versus British Guiana. I say with confidence that Hand-in-Hand identifies with C.L.R James’ maxim: ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ Guyanese cricket is inseparable from events beyond the boundary.”

“It is necessary for me to add that it was Dr. Ian McDonald, poet, eminent thinker, a member of the Hand-in-Hand Board and a special friend of four decades, who conceived this project.”

CEO Evelyn said the company is proud and extremely grateful that Professor Seecharan “undertook the task of bringing our legacy project to fruition.”

Professor Clem Seecharan addressing the gathering

“There is no person better qualified for this undertaking, for not only is Professor Seecharan a renowned historian and author, but he is also an avid cricket fan. He was quick to advise us that nothing of this nature has ever been done in the composition of the history of Guyanese cricket,” Evelyn said in a piece titled ‘A Proud Legacy’ in the book.

“The work will cover the first 100 years of First-Class cricket in Guyana, 1865 to 1966; and we are pleased to present the second volume of a larger study of this path-breaking record of Guyanese cricket. It will no doubt be a significant contribution, as is volume one, to the history of West Indies cricket and the social history of the region as a whole.”

Seecharan pointed out: “The history of cricket in Guyana will help us to better understand our social history and many issues of political significance that have influenced the development of this the only English-speaking country on the South American continent. The history of this glorious game is inseparable from the history of Guyana and indeed the English-speaking Caribbean.”

Volume Two is dedicated to five persons, two of whom are alive: Dr. Yesu Persaud, a friend of the author, and Dr. Puran Singh, a great friend of author and a source of inspiration.

The others are Mary Turner (1931-2013), Phyllis Knight (1929-2014) and John Smoliniec (1947-2017).

Signed copies of the book were given to the invitees

Chairman of the Hand-in-Hand Group of Companies, John Carpenter, labelled Volume Two “another fascinating and invaluable book on cricket and life in Guyana.”

“We consider this study an outstanding scholarly achievement, and a valuable contribution to the increasingly formidable tradition of Guyana’s intellectual achievements. We at Hand-in-Hand are honoured to have played an originating role in the realization of this unique perspective on the social history of our country. It is a project we consider worthy of commemorating the long and remarkable contribution Hand-in-Hand has made to the nation since we were founded in 1865.”

Among the gathering at the launch were spin legend Lance Gibbs, prolific batsman Dr. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, former Guyana and West Indies all-rounder Roger Harper, Sport Minister Dr. George Norton, Cricket West Indies Director Anand Sanasie and members of senior national Men’s cricket team, the Guyana Jaguars.

Copies of the book were specially presented to the National Archives of Guyana, the University of Guyana, the National Library of Guyana and the National Trust of Guyana. Members of the audience also received signed copies.

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