Guyanese Test cricketer Basil Butcher passes on

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By Avenash Ramzan

Former Guyana and West Indies batsman Basil Fitzherbert Butcher passed away on Monday evening (December 16) in South Florida after a long period of illness. The father of seven was 86.

Butcher, born September 3, 1933, represented West Indies in 44 Tests between 1958 and 1969, averaging 43.11 with seven centuries. He was one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1970.

His son Basil Butcher Jr. wrote on social media: “With a heavy heart I announce our Dad, Husband, Brother, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather and former Guyana and West Indies batting star Basil Butcher Sr. passed earlier this evening in Florida after a long illness.”

Speaking to News Room moments after, the younger Butcher said his father was ailing for about three years now.

Reflecting on the life of his father, Basil Butcher Jr. said he would forever remember the right-hander, who first played for British Guiana as a 21-year-old in 1954, for two principles he instilled in his children.

“One, he would always stress on us to be independent, and two, he would always say ‘you get what you put in.’ Those were lifelong principles or values he instilled in us,” Basil Butcher Jr. reflected.

“He would always tell the cricketers ‘you get what you put in’ and he became known for saying that line to young cricketers.”

Basil Butcher represented West Indies in 44 Test matches

The highest of Butcher’s seven centuries was an unbeaten 209 against England in Nottingham in June 1966, six years after he scored 28 and 64 not out on Test debut against India in Mumbai.

He also had hundreds in consecutive Tests in Australia in 1969.

Butcher played against five Test nations, averaging 54 against New Zealand, 47.66 against India, 42.90 against England, 40.50 against Australia and 33.25 against Pakistan.

In 32 away Test matches, Butcher scored 2,367 runs at an average of 46.41 with six centuries, while at home he played just 12 Tests, amassing 737 runs at 35.09 with a solitary hundred in Trinidad.

In 169 First-Class games, the Port Mourant-born accumulated 11,628 runs at an average of 49.90 with 31 centuries.

Butcher’s career in numbers: http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/51239.html

Profile (By Christopher Martin-Jenkins/ESPNCricinfo)

A supple, wristy, resolute batsman, Basil Butcher became a consistently reliable performer at number four or five in the West Indies order. In his first Test series, against India in 1958-59, he made 486 runs at 69.42, but had a chequered career thereafter, until the 1963 tour of England, when he made 383 runs in eight completed innings, including 133 out of 229 in the memorable draw at Lord’s.

During an interval in that match he opened a letter which advised him that (against a background of civil war) his wife had had a miscarriage back home in Guyana. Very upset, Butcher continued to play a solid and masterly innings which saved his side.

Two fine series against Australia led Richie Benaud to consider him the most difficult of all West Indians to get out. An occasional leg-spinner himself, the only Test wickets Butcher took were all in one innings – 5-34 (four coming in three overs) against England at Port-of-Spain in 1967-68.

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