…. Despite some early set backs
By Sean Devers
Arguable the best U-17 cricketer in the Ancient County of Berbice, Jonathon Rampersaud is a genuine all-rounder who bats left-handed and is a crafty off-spinner who aspires to play Test Cricket.
But at just 16, the National U-15 player has had to deal with three heart-breaking setbacks, two involving his cricket career and other making a direct impact on his young life off the cricket field.
In last year’s GCB Under-17 Inter-County tournament Jonathon took 4-21 and made 41 against the National U-15s but the young Essequibian Christiani, who had a very poor tournament, was selected for 2019 Regional U-17 tournament in T&T ahead of him.
He said he wanted to quit but was encouraged to fight through his disappointment by CEO of his club, Rose Hall Youth & Sports Club (RHYSC) and President of the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB), Hilbert Foster.
He took Foster’s advice and smashed a shot-filled 141 against Rose Hall Canje in the Berbice U-17 tournament which was used to pick the 2020 Berbice U-17 team.
Viewed as an automatic pick in his final year at U-17 level for this year’s Regional U-17 which was scheduled for next month in Trinidad, more disappoint came his way when, due the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was cancelled. This was his final year at this level.
His biggest challenge however came when he was representing Guyana in the Regional U-15 tournament in Jamaica and his father suffered a stroke.
“When I came home from the tour I was shocked to see my father had gotten a stroke. His left hand was paralysed, leaving my mother as the sole breadwinner for the family. She usually vends in front of the Port Mourant Primary School,” Jonathon recounted sadly.
Although his father can’t assist much, he would be at most of Jonathon’s matches supporting him which brings back memories of the similar situation that had befallen Guyana First-Class leg-spinner Amir Khan and his father, the late Police left-arm spinner Kaublal Khan.
Jonathon was born on November 6, 2003 to Charran and Rohanie Rampersaud and he is their only child.
Jonathon actually qualifies to play for both Berbice and Demerara, where he was born.
The confident batsman, who intends to join the famous Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) Bourda when he completes High School, explained how he was born in the City.
“When my mother was pregnant, her time for delivery was overdue while she was visiting my aunty who resided in Georgetown. My mother took in with labour pain and they rushed her to Woodlands hospital for an emergency surgery,” Jonathon explained.
Jonathon lives at Portuguese Quarters in Port Mourant, a Village in Corentyne Berbice in Region six which produced Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Soloman and later Alvin Kallicharran.
Kanhai, Butcher and Kallicharran were three of the four great Berbician Test batsmen from Guyana with Roy Fredericks from West Bank Berbice being the other one.
He attended the Port Mourant Primary and after writing the National grade 6 exams he was placed at President’s College on the East Coast of Demerara.
But his mother had him transferred to the JC Chandisingh Secondary School in Berbice where he is writing 11 subjects at the CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council’s Secondary Education Certificate) Exams from July 14, 2020.
“When I was small, I used to go with my cousin to Port Mourant Centre and he would get a tennis racket and hit a flannel ball high in the air and I would catch it.
My father is a farmer and at the age of 10, my mother would take me to the farm with her and I would help her since farming was our main source of income,” said Jonathon, who enjoys going to farm and reading books.
He did not play any other sports while at school but soon he was turning heads with his ability with a bat and a ball.
Jonathon played his first match for JC Chandisingh Secondary school in 2016 and has so far captained them to three consecutive titles in the BCB inter school tournament including last year when he led from the front with a stylish half-century to take the Man-of-Match Award.
“I started watching cricket on television at a small age and I would imagine that I was International off-spinner Sunil Narine bowling. I was then 12,” said Jonathon who grew up in a part of Guyana where the main sport is cricket with a bit of Volleyball being played and big crowds attends all levels of matches.
“I went to RHTYCC and watched the bigger guys practicing. I fell in love with the sport and started going every afternoon to practice.
My first game I played was an under 17 match for Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club and got 3-17. I then moved on to a higher stage and played for the Rose Hall’s first division team at the age of 13,” remembered the immensely talented Jonathon.
His mother never liked him playing cricket, she would be stressed that he was missing school to go and play cricket.
She would always advise him to focus on his academics but when he made the Guyana team, she saw the potential in him and really supports his cricket career now.
The youngster has the raw talent (if managed properly) to give his parents a comfortable life from cricket but he also understands the value of a sound education.
“For the past years that I have been in High School I have gotten great support from my teachers and parents knowing that I also play cricket. But I make sure I pay keen interest on getting my school work up to date.
I took private lessons where a teacher would come to our home in the evenings and teach me. I have made great sacrifice to balance both cricket and studying, knowing they go hand in hand. I want to be an Agriculture Engineer since I grew up in Farming and my grandfather, Bridgemohan Rampersaud was a Mechanical Engineer,” he stated.
“Since I joined the club (RHYSC) my life has changed rapidly with success. Being academically 90 % in school, I lost a bit and I had dropped to 75 % as the work kept piling up but then I learnt how to balance both. In my core subjects I would hit 90 marks and up and you would find the subjects I didn’t register for CXC I wouldn’t pay that much attention to.
Now I feel more comfortable because I have the support of Mr Foster who willingly helps me,” continued Jonathon.
“My favourite cricketer is Steve Smith, I love seeing him bat, not only because he has scored a lot of runs but the passion he has for cricket,” explained Jonathon.
He played his only U-15 Inter-County tournament in 2018 when he had a breakthrough season with 15 wickets in four matches with a best of 5-12 against Demerara, earning three Man-of-the-Match Awards.
My Most memorable game playing for Berbice under-17 was when I scored 41 not out and had figures of 4-17 at Everest against the Guyana U-15 select X1 last year.
“Playing franchise cricket is a hard task, sharing the same dressing room with a lot of Guyana senior players such as Bramble and Pestano.
But I am learning from them, their leadership skills have helped me to develop more skills and playing in the Franchise has exposed my game to a higher level. Playing at a higher level for my age with the seniors mentoring, helps to motivate me as a player,” Jonathon in his second year in Franchise, added.
He said his most memorable moment playing for the Berbice U-15 was when he won the Man-of-the Match in the final against Demerara.
In his only Regional U-15 tournament, Jonathon, Guyana’s Vice-Captain, scored 118 runs in six innings with a top score of 69 against Leeward Islands and took six wickets with a best of 2-18 against Barbados when Guyana suffered its only defeat in the tournament which was played in Jamaica.
“I would always remember batting at Melbourne cricket ground in Jamaica where the two bowling ends are named after two of West Indian greats,” said Jonathon, selected among the Standbys for the West Indies U-16 team.
The two ‘Greats’ he is talking about are West Indies pacers Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding who both played for the Melbourne club and whose names also adorns the bowling ends at Jamaica’s Test Venue, Sabina Park.
In the next four years Jonathon sees himself breaking into the Guyana senior team set up and then from there working to play Test cricket for the West Indies.
In the Mike’s Pharmacy U-15 BCB’s final, the Rose Hall Town Captain scored a magnificent 93 with six boundaries in a losing cause against Albion, while Jonathon stroked a glorious unbeaten 141 against Rose Hall Canje in the recently concluded Ramnaresh Sarwan Berbice U-17 competition.
In 2018 Jonathon had scores of 110 not out, 83, 93 and 54 not out in the BCB inter club U-15 tournament.
He says that the level of the Franchise cricket is higher than club cricket because it is far more competitive than club cricket.
“My most memorable moment in the franchise league is that I saw Ronsford Beaton bowling on TV when I was smaller and I never believed I was going to face him at the Port Mourant ground at the age of 14. Beaton is the fastest bowler I have ever faced.
Other memorable moments for me in Franchise cricket were when I top scored for Upper Corentyne in 2019 at Everest. I was so happy that I could contribute to the team and when I had the wicket of Guyana captain Leon Johnson, stumped by Anthony Bramble last year when we beat Georgetown at Bourda.
In Berbice there are many cricket tournaments being played and fortunately I play in most of them… so I would say the competitiveness in cricket in Berbice is really good.”
Jonathon revealed that he was really determined to make Guyana U-17 this year and had been working hard on him game.
However, the tournament which was scheduled for Trinidad next month has been cancelled due to the Corona Virus and Jonathon, who will be over the age limit next year, will now have focus on the Regional U-19 tournament.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is spreading all over the world and most sports are on hold. Where law enforcement measures are in place in the country they should be followed.
I would usually still train doing the basics and core strength exercises. I have not seen a cricket field for the past three months but I am having batting sessions on a concrete pitch in my backyard,” said Jonathon.
“There are many people who have supported me, especially my parents, CEO of RHTYSC and President of the BCB Mr (Hilbert) Foster, Delbert Hicks, Seon Hooper, Kevin Sinclair and Kevlon Anderson,” the budding all-rounder concluded.
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