BestXI: Building an all-time West Indies Championship – Guyana

By May 30, 2020

A country blessed with elegant batsmen, picking an all-time best Guyana line-up has been the most difficult of all the countries to date.

While many of the other territories in our all-time West Indies Championship have been blessed with talent throughout, no other country, it seems, has as many talented batsmen on equal footing at the First-Class level.

That is a good problem for a coach to have and if you were coaching this Guyana outfit, it is hardly likely that you come up against a team who could manage a total your line-up could not overhaul.

As usual, we welcome your feedback on whether or not we got this Best XI right. Tell us who we should have kept or who we should not have included, leave a comment under the story on Facebook and we can have a good old-fashioned debate.

 

Guyana’s Best XI

 

 

Roy Fredericks

Roy Fredericks significant ability made him a mainstay in the West Indies side, batting first with another Guyanese opener in Steve Camacho before joining forces with Gordon Greenidge. At the First-Class level, Fredericks was a powerful batsman, relishing the challenge of attacking the most fearsome of pace bowlers of which the West Indies had many. Fredericks, a master of the cut and hook shots, was known at the international level for scoring quick 50s but not converting them to centuries. At the First-Class level, this wasn’t true as Fredericks slammed 40 centuries to his 80 half-centuries on his way to 16,384 career runs at a more-than-respectable average of 45.89. Fredericks would play two more innings after announcing his retirement in 1983, slamming 103 against Trinidad and 217 against Jamaica.

 

First-class career: 1963-1983

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave       100s    50s    6s      Ct   

223     391      34     16384   250    45.89       40      80      177     0

 

 

Rohan Kanhai (wicketkeeping opener)

With such a dearth of batting in an all-time Guyana line-up, it is interesting that Rohan Kanhai, a lifelong number-three batsman, would be asked to open and wicketkeep, but a stacked middle-order which could take the batting down to eight or nine without much of a shift in quality means Kanhai gets to face the new ball with Fredericks. At the first-class level, Khanai was absolutely brilliant, scoring 86 centuries and 120 half-centuries in a 23-year-long career. Kanhai’s average of 45.89 after 421 games is no small feat, but more than the runs he accumulated, was the way he did it and when he did it. Kanhai was elegance personified but there was real power too. An ESPN Cricinfo article by noted poet, novelist and columnist in Georgetown, Guyana, Ian McDonald, summed it up best.

“You could feel it charge the air around him as he walked to the wicket. I do not know quite how to describe it. It was something that kept the heart beating hard with a special sort of excited fear all through a Kanhai innings, as if something marvellous or terrible or even sacred was about to happen.”

 

First-class career: 1954-1977

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave    100s    50s      Ct       St

421      675     83     29250    256    49.40    86     120       325      7

 

 

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

The raw emotion of Fredericks’ batting along with the unequalled grace of Kanhai’s may best be tempered with the obdurate efforts of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Unorthodox technique and all, Chanderpaul could bat for days without bothering himself too much about scoring and this patience made him into a legend of West Indies cricket. But he could get aggressive too when it called for it. On other days, when he was in the mood like the day he faced 478 deliveries against Jamaica in a Red Stripe Cup game at Sabina Park to score an unbeaten 303, he was impossible to remove from the wicket. That determination and those powers of concentration are a big reason behind his 53.17 average after 385 First-Class games. In all, Chanderpaul would notch a whopping 77 centuries and 144 half-centuries during a career lasting 27 years.

 

First-class career: 1991-2018

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS      Ave    100s    50s         

385      626    108    27545     303*   53.17     77     144               

 

Basil Butcher

Very ‘wristy’ was one way to describe Basil Butcher, a batsman who was extremely reliable for both the West Indies and Guyana. His ability to turn deliveries around the ground belied his name, he certainly was no butcher, but rather thrived on the art of batsmanship. He was also notoriously good at blocking out his circumstances and there is a famous story about him opening a letter that told him of his wife’s miscarriage during a match against England at Lord’s. Butcher would go onto the field after reading the letter and while visibly upset, score a match-saving 133. For British Guiana in the first instance, and for Guyana in the second, innings like that became quite a bit of a staple for Butcher. In 169 matches he would score 31 centuries and 54 half-centuries. Australian commentator, without seeing his exploits at the First-Class level, described Butcher as the most difficult of all West Indians to get out. Butcher was also a competent leg spinner, taking 40 wickets in his career at an average of 30.42 and with a strike rate of 54.8.

 

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave    100s     50s    

169      262    29      11628    209*  49.90     31       54   

 

 

Carl Hooper

Carl Hooper was a cool customer, rarely ever looking troubled at the crease. At the international level, this proved problematic because he would get out and it was rarely understandable how it happened. At the First-Class level though, those lapses of concentration that led to him ending with a 36.46 average were absent. Hooper scored 69 centuries at the First-Class level and was one of the most prolific West Indies batsmen of all time, more than 23,000 runs at an average of 47.68. He had 104 half-centuries to boot in a career that spanned 21 years. In those 21 years, Hooper also turned his arm over a few times, ending his career with 555 wickets at an average of 35.30.

 

First-class career (batting): 1984-2004

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS      Ave      100s    50s         

339      535     52     23034     236*   47.68       69     104                     

 

First-class career (bowling): 1984-2004

Mat    Inns    Balls      Runs      Wkts    BBI     Ave      Econ   SR      5w     10w

339                46464    19595     555      7/93    35.30    2.53    83.7    18        0

 

 

Clive Lloyd

Standing at 6ft 5in, Clive Lloyd was a dominant figure in World Cricket, but as a First-Class cricketer, those 6 feet plus grew to at least 10. Averaging just south of 50, the hard-hitting former West Indies captain was a man for the moment. If you wanted to see Lloyd at his best, put his team in trouble and that would be an almost eventuality. Seventy-nine times Lloyd would pass the three-figure mark including a career-best 242 not out, and he would get to a half-century or more on 172 other occasions.

 

First-class career: 1963-1986

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS      Ave    100s    50s         

490     730      96     31232    242*   49.26     79     172      

 

      

 

Alvin Kallicharran

Alvin Kallicharran could play all the shots in the book, but not only that, he could do it with a certain poise and grace almost unparalleled even today. Usually, with the kind of genius Kallicharran displayed, there comes episodes that may hinder that genius. There was none of that for Kallicharran who averaged 43.64 over the course of 505 first-class games. That average had been coming down as well, because Kallicharran, played long past the point where he was still at his best. He holds the record for the highest number of centuries from a Guyanese bat, the figure standing at 87, and 160 half-centuries to boot, with only Clive Lloyd having scored more. He would end his career with 32,650 first-class runs under his belt, again, another record for a Guyanese batsman.

 

First-class career: 1966-1990

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS      Ave     100s    50s        

505      834     86     32650     243*   43.64      87     160           

 

Colin Croft

Colin Croft’s modus operandi was aggression and you couldn’t tell if he really meant to kill you after a vicious bouncer whizzed by your ear. With his very noticeable lean to the left side of the wicket, Croft would get the ball to angle towards a right-hander quite sharply before it would straighten off the pitch. That movement with pace and bounce was difficult to navigate for even the most proper of batsmen and only the very talented would survive for too long. In just 121 first-class matches, Croft would claim 428 scalps and some of those wickets were literally scalps, at the incredibly low average of 24.59. His strike rate of 49.3 makes him the most dangerous bowler Guyana has ever produced.

 

First-class career: 1971-1982

Mat    Inns     Balls      Wkts   BBI     Ave     Econ   SR       5w     10w

121     21101   10527    428     8/29    24.59   2.99    49.3     17        1

 

        

Roger Harper (allrounder)

With 567 wickets under his belt, Roger Harper is most decidedly a bowling allrounder. His average of 25.97 at a strike rate of 66.7 bares this truth out but he could also bat, having scored 10 centuries and 36 half-centuries in the 200 first-class matches he has played. Harper, like many allrounders, never wanted to be left out of the game and would make his presence felt in the field as well, picking up and throwing down the stumps all in one motion or cutting off a certain boundary. You couldn’t hit it in the air to him either because his buckets for hands would make no mistake. A tall offspinner, Harper turned the ball depending on the pitch he was bowling on but depended more on deception in flight to get him wickets. His height meant he could make a ball look like it was in the air for a long time when it really wasn’t, as well as he could spare in quick yorkers that would leave a batsman strangled for time to get his feet out of the way.

 

First-class career (batting): 1979-1997

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS      Ave    100s    50s         

200      263     43     7480      234    34.00     10      36                      

 

First-class career (bowling): 1979-1997

Mat    Balls      Runs      Wkts    BBI     Ave     Econ    SR      5w     10w

200     37825    14726      567     6/24    25.97   2.33     66.7     28       3

 

 

Reon King

Reon King is quite possibly the most underrated bowler in the history of West Indies cricket, especially after fast-bowling royalty, Michael Holding, said he could neither bat, bowl nor field. King only played in 19 Tests for the West Indies but lost a yard of pace largely because of a niggling heel injury. Before that though, King generated good pace through an effortless run-up that some ironically likened to Holding’s. Before his career came to an end though, King managed 95 first-class games and 293 wickets at an average of 27.48. His figures, had he been able to remain fit may have surprised Holding. His 11 five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket haul suggests he could turn a match.

 

First-class career: 1995-2007

Mat    Balls    Runs     wkts   BBI     Ave     Econ   SR     5w     10w

95      16120   8053      293    7/82    27.48   2.99    55.0    11       1

 

Lance Gibbs

Lance Gibbs is the most successful spinner in West Indies history, once holding the world record for most number of wickets in Test cricket history. He was no less of a standout in regional cricket. Generating immense spin with his long fingers, Gibbs was also accurate to a fault. More than a thousand batsmen at the first-class level found him impossible to deal with and his strike rate of 27.22 is proof positive of the danger he posed to them. But Gibbs’ ability to single-handedly turn a match was the real gift the spinner possessed, having taken five wickets in an innings on an unbelievable 50 occasions, and laying claim to ten 10-wicket hauls.

 

First-class career: 1953-1975

Mat    Balls    Runs      Wkts   BBI     Ave    Econ   SR      5w    10w

330     78430  27878     1024   8/37    27.22   2.13   76.5     50     10

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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