May 03, 2020 Sports
By Sean Devers
It very rare for someone who has never played any hardball cricket to become arguable the best softball batsman ever in Guyana but 60-year-old left-hander Wayne Jones proves this can be done.
Jones, described by the ‘stranded in Boston’ Regal Softball teams Media Manager John Ramsingh as the ‘Sir Garfield Sobers’ of Softball cricket, was born in Georgetown on June 21, 1961 and attended the Bel Air Primary and Bourda Community High Schools.
Jones is employed by Mike’s pharmacy and is married with two sons and a daughter.
“I became interested in cricket since my father played a lot of club cricket in his time and cricket in our blood. I learnt my cricket, playing in my Primary School yard where I played a bit of hardball cricket but I just did not get the push I needed and I did not have the courage to go on my own,” said Jones who played his first competitive Softball game at age 11.
Jones said he did not get the encouragement to play hardball and felt that softball was an easier game to fit in.
Prominent softball batsman and Jones’ Mike’s Wellman teammate Troy Lewis, the former Demerara U-19 Hardball Keeper, agreed with Ramsingh.
“Jones was excellent and the best softball batsman back then and he can still hold his own now even at his age,” said Lewis.
“Maybe I can go on for another 10 years or so. It all depends on how far away from injuries I can stay because I don’t have that much weight and that’s what helps me a lot,” the veteran 60-year-old said when asked how much longer he plans to continue playing.
“My most memorable match was playing for Demerara vs Berbice at Rose Hall at the Canje ground. We were chasing 136 off 20 overs I went in at 63-4 and ended on 52 not out as Demerara won by three wickets. I was Man-of-the Match,” said Jones who represented Bel Air, New Stars, Yorkshire
Skyline, Ariel, Durban, Goodwood’s and President’s XI.
Jones scored three centuries in his first 15 years that he played and said back then a whole team getting 100 runs was like climbing the Everest Mountain with no gear.
In the 1970, 80s and 90s, games were over a duration of 25 overs, but now most of the games are t20s. To reach a century in a 25-over game back then when batsmen were less aggressive, is a tremendous achievement.
“The standard was better in those days. It was more competitive back then and the players and their fans were more disciplined in 1970’s and 80s,” said Jones who plays in the Masters but still competes in the Open games.
“In my first overseas trip I was run out for 97 and I am still upset about it. We were in the last over I had to get four runs for my hundred. I got run out trying to get back the strike,” remembered the Mike’s Wellman player.
When asked if he feels local softball cricket could be properly sustained, Jones said it could but only if you find the right type of people with good heart that really and truly have the game at heart.
“There are too many pretensive people around who are selfish and narrow minded that just do things for themselves to look good by using other people. I don’t think that the people to take softball to that level are not born yet. I think if we get about 15 more people like my Boss (proprietor of Mike’s Pharmacy Mike Singh) it could happen,” said Jones.
Many softball teams are owned by successful businessmen and it is perceived that local Softball has more prize money than that local hardball tournaments but Jones said that is only true when the overseas teams are involved and nothing much after that.
“I thought by now it would have gone a far way in seeing players earning from softball cricket but when you have people who are selfish involved in anything, not just sports, it will always be difficult to get progress. But it’s something can still be done. I hope so for the younger ones,” Jones lamented.
“I would really love to see a Messiah just appear and inject some fresh new life into softball cricket the way Mr Wayne Forde has done for football. He has changed football for the better in this country and softball needs someone like him. I think we have enough pretenders around this lovely game,” added Jones who represents the President’s XI when he is playing overseas.
Talking about the impact that the COVID-19 where the cases had climbed to 82, while the death toll is now nine in Guyana up to yesterday.
“It has stopped the cricket completely, just have to wait it out and hope for the best.
Follow the rules and try not to be a hero. Pay attention to what is happening around you and try not to get to get caught-up in this mess. Try to help out as much as you could but try to do it safely please, stay safe everyone,” Jones pleaded with his fellow Guyanese who continue to ignore the social distancing and Curfew laws.
Softball (bowled underarm with a rubber ball) is a recreational sport, which is played (especially in the rural areas) on the roads, pastures and beaches in Guyana. Softball cricket is indigenous to Guyanese and has now evolved into a commercial product with ‘World Cups’ being staged the USA, Canada and Guyana and played mostly by Guyanese.
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