Basil Butcher remembered as a fine cricketer, man of integrity
By Avenash Ramzan
A fine cricketer. A man of integrity. A wonderful family man.
Those were some of the sentiments that resonated in Christ Church Parish on Waterloo Street, Georgetown, where the remains of Basil Fitzherbert Butcher, decked out in the iconic maroon West Indies blazer, lay on Thursday.
The Guyana and West Indies cricketer passed away on December 16 last in Miami after a period of illness. Following a moving church service, the 86-year-old was cremated at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara.
Among those paying their final respects were Butcher’s sons, West Indies chief selector Roger Harper and Dr. Vincent Adams, one of Butcher’s teammates.
What they said
Mark Harper- Former National Cricketer: “Not only did he play a major role in the advancement of cricket in Guyana and the West Indies as a player and later Vice-president of the Guyana Cricket Board and Chairman of Selectors for the West Indies, but he also played a role in national development as a Welfare Officer and Public Relations Officer in the cultural field. We all know he came to prominence in 1950 through (Robert) Christiani and (Clyde) Walcott, and we all know that as a country boy back in those days it was a big challenge to get into the Guyana team. So it was in those years that he forged that determination to make it into the Guyana team and also to retain his place in the West Indies team.”
Clairmont Butcher- Son of Basil Butcher: “A branch, a big branch has fallen from our family tree, and his leaving many have caused a void, but that void can be filled with remembered joy, advice, candid you-may-not-like statements, but he meant well…every time.”
Keith Foster- Son of Basil Butcher: “He dabbled in politics, he dabbled in farming, but he was always in cricket. We were fortunate to have him put up a Basil Butcher Trust Fund on the Corentyne with the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club. He insisted that at least two cricketers from Port Mourant must be recipients, and that went on for quite a few years. (Shimron) Hetmyer is one of the first persons to receive assistance from Basil Butcher in the form of gear.”
Basil Butcher Jr- Son of Basil Butcher: “Stuff about him as a father reflected in him as a cricketer. He was very strict, he was very stubborn, he was always right. And he was a philosopher. There are many things that he said to me; as a young boy I didn’t understand what he meant. It was until I got older I started to understand the various little things he would say. One of his sayings was ‘is how much you put in you get out.’
David Yhann- Close friend of Basil Butcher: “Basil B or Butch, as he was fondly called, was a Guyanese to the bone. Basil was the quintessential West Indian. His race was Caribbean. His ethnicity was Guyanese. His nationality was universal. He was one of a rare breed among us who had supreme confidence in himself and was immensely proud to be Guyanese. Nothing about him was fake. Since Basil’s passing, I have been reading some of the obituaries and comments to see how they accord with the man I was privileged and honoured to call my friend. They all speak to his tenacity and integrity, including when it came to recognising his own limitations. Basil leaves a fantastic legacy for our youth, whom he was happy to be around and extremely keen to support and develop.”
Dr. Vincent Adams- Basil Butcher’s former teammate: “The worst thing you could do with Basil is throw your wicket away. Once, I got out stupidly on 65, but I thought it was a great score and I’m passing him and looking for an accolade and he looked at me and he said ‘you don’t want to make a hundred’, because everything for him was a hundred. He said ‘well I’m going to show you today how to make a hundred’ and he went out there and made 160 something, but that was the genius of this man, not only as a cricketer but as an individual.”
Roger Harper- CWI Chief Selector: “Basil made his Test debut in 1958 and steadily became part of a prolific West Indies batting line-up that included such greats as Sir Garfield Sobers, the late Sir Conrad Hunte, fellow Berbician the master Rohan Kanhai and the late Sir Frank Worrell. This group of batsmen excited world cricket and brought great joy and pride to the people of the Caribbean.”
Born September 3, 1933, Butcher 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.
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