‘History should be protected’ says Minister Roopnarine
By Sean Devers
The Woodbine room at Cara Lodge was filled with nostalgia last Friday evening as English based Professor Clem Seecharan launched his book entitled ‘Hand-in-Hand History of cricket in Guyana, 1865-1897 Volume 1:
The specially invited audience included Government dignitaries, members of the opposition and names like a who’s who in the local cricket fraternity and when it was all over, the evening was well spent and most present would have been enlightened about the rich and glorious history of Guyana’s cricket before they were born.
Seecharan spoke of those who helped in compiling the must read book which spoke of the colonial days when the ‘white or light’ controlled everything in Guyana (then British Guiana) including cricket.
Seecharan said that it was Ian McDonald who conceived the idea of this unique project. He spoke of the GCC, which was founded in 1858. The Parade ground, Middle Street, where the inaugural First-Class match in this country was played between Barbados and Demerara in 1865, was used by the GCC to practice on special days of the week before the oldest local club moved to its present location in December 1885. Seecharan told those present of how ‘challenges for cricket matches’ were sent by letter.
Among those present were former West Indies Keeper and the first Secretary of WIPA, Deryck Murray, sports Minister Nicolette Henry, former Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony, Education Minister with responsibility for Sports Dr Rupert Roopnarine, Director of Sports Chris Jones, former Director of Sports Neil Kumar, Ex-Test batsman Joe Solomon, former West Indies off-spinner and Guyana CPL franchise Coach Roger Harper, former GCB President Ramsay Ali, WICB Director Anand Sanasie, National Cricketer Steven Jacobs, West Indies
Female player Tremayne Smartt, Singer Dave Martins, Sports Editor of Stabroek News Donald Duff and past WICB Directors Claude Raphael and Bish Panday.
McDonald and Murray were Guest Speakers and Murray, who sits on the CARICOM Sub Committee on Cricket, said that he first met Minister Roopnarine at University in England and informed that Roopnarine, who played Inter-County cricket for Demerara, was his mentor at University.
“He told me he was going back to Guyana to get into politics and I advised him not to do that. I am sure that you here would be pleased that he did not listen to me,” said Murray, who turns 73 next Friday.
“Roopnarine was a very good off-spinner but Lance Gibbs prevented him from representing Guyana,” added Murray, who along with Andy Roberts shared in a record late order stand in 1975 World Cup semi-final.
Murray, a former President of the TTCB, paid tribute to the late Tony Cozier who was the best Caribbean Cricket Broadcaster and Journalist and said towards the end of his career Cozier was ostracized by the WICB and prevented from doing commentary for daring to say what most of us say that WICB should go.
When Martins, who sang that song, asked Murray what else can be done to remove the Board members? Murray, who represented the West Indies for 17 years, replied “Cricket is important to West Indian people and we must not allow the game to be played as a private event. We as people have to take action by not going to their games, by writing letters to the media and by protesting for their removal as Board members.”
“It’s not cricket alone but all sports bodies are driven by agendas that are self severing and are not in the best interest of the masses,” Murray, who traveled from T&T for the Book Launch, concluded.
Minister Roopnarine, who played 29 First-Class matches, reiterated that skin colour played a big role in the ‘old’ days and remembered when QC once played GCC and all the little black boys had to sit in the stand while the fair complexioned ones sat in the pavilion.
As the 73 year-old Education Minister reflected about the days when three inter-house matches were played simultaneously on QC’s ground and about the stands at the famous Bourda ground falling apart, he disclosed that this Government wants to fix these things.
“The Government wants to see sports and music back in schools. We want to restore the grounds and those schools that don’t have their own ground must have access to a public one. If a student wants to write 23 subjects then he must have nothing else to do,” said Roopnarine who excelled academically while being involved in sports.
“History is something we could learn from and our history must be protected. I remember when I visited the old Archives when the wind blew all the papers would be in disarray. It is a good thing that history is now protected at the new location at the Racket Centre,” Roopnarine continued.
Roopnarine noted that Tony Cozier was an icon in cricket reporting and a great student of the history of the game. “I don’t believe there is any journalist who can write about cricket the way he did because they are not prepared to research and lack the passion and love for their work,” Roopnarine lamented.
The Minister called on Government to honour the late Cozier with a National Award. When a journalist reminded him that Reds Perriera was a Guyanese who had contributed both as an administrator and Guyana’s best cricket commentator and all round sports reporter who deserved the Media Centre at Providence being named after him while he was still alive, Minister Roopnarine said “that’s very likely”.
Also speaking at the occasion was Chairman of the Hand-in-Hand group of companies John Carpenter, who said it was a great achievement that like Guyana’s First-Class cricket, the Insurance Company was formed in 1865 and is still strong after 150 years of existence.
Director and Fire Manager, Howard Cox, who did a wonderful job as MC and Human Resource Manager Zaida Joaquin, who did the vote of thanks, also spoke.
Each invitee was presented with an autographed copy of Seecharan’s Book while presentations of the books were made to the National Archives of Guyana, University of Guyana, the National Library and the National Trust of Guyana.
At the conclusion of the book signing by the Author refreshments were served as the guests mingled with each other.
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