By Sean Devers
The Cricket Legends of Barbados Inc is the brain child of a pair of 79 year-old former West
Indian cricketers from Barbados; Rawle Branker and Sir Wesley Hall.
Hall, a fearsome fast bowler, played 170 First-Class matches including 48 Tests in which he captured 192 wickets with a best of 7-69 and made two half centuries.
Hall represented both Barbados and Trinidad in Regional First-Class cricket and is a Pastor and former Minister of Tourism in the Barbados Government.
Branker took 106 wickets with his left arm spin and made five centuries in 47 First-Class games and his 7-73 for West Indies against Kent in 1966 in England is the best bowling figures. They both played for Barbados in the mid 1950s up to the early 70s.
The Cricket Legends of Barbados Inc started as an Act in Parliament and was agreed on by both sides of the House.
In 2007, for the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Cricket Legends of Barbados Cricket Museum was launched with eight Barbadian Cricketing Icons donating gear, balls and clothing from their playing days.
“They wanted to do something to showcase the Legends at a time when many International teams and thousands of tourists would be in Barbados for the mega cricketing event,” informed the Museum’s CEO Kenneth Payne.
The Museum, located ‘a stone’s throw’ away from Kensington Oval, accommodates a
Restaurant, six rooms dealing with different aspects of West Indies cricket history and historical players. The facility creates a feeling of nostalgia for cricket lovers while providing entertainment and an education in the history of West Indies cricket. There is also a gift shop which sells cricket memorabilia and the public gets a full tour for US$10. There is also a Cricket Legends Gift shop at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Among the ‘must see’ areas in the spacious and magnificently maintained Museum are the Portrait Gallery, Heritage room, where the guest sits and are told of the early days of West Indies cricket and what it meant to West Indians.
There is also the Icons room where information and statistics about the great men is posted, the Press Gallery where the Media’s contribution to West Indies cricket over the years is highlighted by several Newspaper clippings pasted on the walls. There is even a portrait of Donna Simmons, the only female West Indian to do Radio commentary on Test cricket.
A special room called ‘pace like fire’ is dedicated to Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith and another
named the Sir Gary’s room in which there is a sculpture of the head of Barbados’ only living National Hero and that was used when he became the first batsman to six sixes in one over in First-Class cricket.
In the waiting area there is a TV set which show various clips of the past players including documentaries on Sir Gary, the 3Ws, Greenidge and Haynes which could also be bought for a cost ranging from US$75 to US$85 with the one of Sir Gary’s being sold for the highest price.
The eight icons are Sir Gary Sobers, the world’s best all-rounder, along with former West Indies Tests players Wes Hall, Seymour Nurse, Sir Everton Weeks, Charlie Griffith, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.
“The Icons made donations, while other West Indian players from Barbados like Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne donated the bats they used in their historic 2004 Champion Trophy winning partnership,” Payne informed.
The Museum, reputed to be the second best cricket Museum in the world behind the one at
Lords in England and better than the Bradman Museum in Australia, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year and a gala event is being planned where the public can meet with the Legends. A road show is also on with the Icons going into schools across the 166 square mile Island and taking photos and signing autographs.
“We spend about $10,000 (one million Guyana dollars) per month on the overall cost of the museum for things like electricity bills, cleaning and paying of the staff among other things,” Payne explained.
The Museum employs four full time staff including Museum Coordinator Alex Bridgeman. The facility is open from 11:00hrs to 17:00hrs daily.
“The Government of Barbados has a contract to contribute 30% of the annual cost to run the Museum. The Government benefits by using their famous cricketers to market Barbados and earn tourism dollars. The English visitors all come here (Museum) since the icons are all well known in England,” the CEO informed.
Asked if he was satisfied with how things are after 10 years Payne said, “Yes and no. There
is still room for improvement and we are now looking for a sponsor. Barbados is well known for honoring its cricketing heroes and we are able to sustain this with support from the Government, who treat it as a business venture and from Museum sales and admittance fees,” Payne concluded.
The stands at the Kensington Oval are adorned with names of their famous cricketers while the name of Cozier is on the Media Centre and a statue of the great Sir Gary is a tourist attraction outside the ground.
Payne said Barbados has the replica and would be willing to share it with the rest of the Region. Grenada has a smaller cricket Museum.
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