By Statistician Charwayne McPherson
The million dollar question still asked by cricket fans is why Courtney Gonsalves only played one first class match. Yes, Gonsalves only first class match 1980 for Essequibo vs Berbice at Hampton Court in the Jones Cup Finals. Strange enough that was the only time Essequibo reached the Inter-County Finals and Gonsalves led from the front in the Semi- Finals against Demerara at Hampton Court with the remarkable figures of 7 for 74 from 28.5 overs, a performance that led Essequibo to first innings points and a place in the finals for the first time. He followed up that script with 3 for 23 in the limited overs Semi-finals that eliminated favourites Demerara.
So it was no surprise when the name Courtney Gonsalves was announced in the Guyana 13 man squad for the 1981 Regional First Class Championship and he did not disappoint in his debut match against the Windward Islands at Arnos Vale Kingstown, St. Vincent. Opening the bowling with Ray Joseph, he sent Lance John packing early, finishing with 1 for 10 from 4 overs. Courtney found the going tough in his next game against Barbados at the Mecca Kensington Oval. He went wicketless conceding 20 runs from 3 overs. This was the last time Courtney Alexander Gonsalves played for Guyana in an A list match.
Rupert Gomes was chosen as Ray Joseph new ball partner for the Shell Shield Battle that followed the Geddes Grant-Harrison Line Clash. Determined to embarrass the selectors Gonsalves took 6 for 102 in a marathon spell against Demerara in the Jones Cup Semi- Finals at Hampton Court in October 1981. Backed up by some outstanding bowling in the national trials, he failed to get the selectors nod when the ‘1982 Shell Shield Team was announced. A similar faith had be fallen the Suddie Express in 1977. The Pakistan Airlines International Team toured Guyana in September 1977. The tour opening matches were against Essequibo at Hampton Court. The star studded Pakistanis with the likes of Wasim Bari and Mudasar Nazar won both games but Gonsalves bowled impressively in both games, capturing 2 wickets on each occasion but failed to find favour when the selectors named the National Squad to face the touring Pakistanis in four international matches; Fred Hartman was preferred instead.
An individual who felt that failure was never a cause for disappointment but rather an incentive for improvement, Gonsalves embarrassed the selectors a month after the Pakistan Airlines Tour with an outstanding performance against Demerara in the Jones Cup Semi-Finals at Hampton Court, the Suddie Express took 5 for 84. He backed up his inter-county performance with some outstanding work in the 1977 trial matches but the national selectors decided that Clement Neblett will partner Colin Croft after Keith Cameron had a disappointing showing in the early matches in the 1978 Shell Shield Tournament. He and Jeff Jones played for the Guyana National Team against a Caribbean All Star Team in 1982 at Hampton Court but this was after Courtney lost that passion and enthusiasm he had as the Suddie Express.
Most disappointing moment as an Essequibo Inter- County player was in 1975 when the Guyana Cricket Board awarded Berbice a place in the Jones Cup Final; the Semi-Finals ended in deadlock, Essequibo made 277 and Berbice were 256 for 7 when the game ended. According to the late Glendon Gibbs, Berbice was awarded a place in the finals because it was felt that Essequibo played negative cricket, a decision that angered the whole Cinderella County.
So the million dollar question still to be asked by cricket fans not only on the Essequibo Coast but all around Guyana is if Courtney Alexander Gonsavles, with credentials at the Inter-County level as mentioned above, was born in Berbice or Demerara would he have played only one first class match?
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