My ultimate Guyana XI
Ask Imran Khan
August 17, 2003
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No matter what team I submit by the end of this article, I am sure that a good number of you will rant about how badly uninformed I was to have left out this player or the other.
I doubt that we will all ever agree on any eleven chosen by anyone. Let us begin though, by choosing a few players who most, if not all of us, would agree must definitely make any Best of Guyana XI.
Roy Clifton Fredericks, that most cavalier of opening batsmen secures the number one spot without much thought.
In 59 Tests `Freddo’ hammered 4334 runs at an average of 42.5 with 26 half centuries and eight tons. His legendary 169 against Australia’s most fearsome pair of pace bowlers, Jeff Thompson and Dennis Lillie, is revered as one of the greatest innings ever played in Test cricket. That day in 1975, Fredericks smoked his way to 100 off a mere 71 balls as he cut and hooked Thompson and Lillie, like only he can with his own brand of contemptuous audacity.
“He totally destroyed them,” is what team-mate Michael Holding had to say of the innings. It is as accurate an appraisal as any.
That innings alone may be good enough to secure his place in the all-time Guyana team, but his 16,384 runs from 223 first class matches at an average of 45.89 should put the issue to rest.
Any man who dares question Mr. Fredericks’ place as Guyana’s premier opening batsman should quickly volunteer himself for brain replacement surgery.
In the number three slot, is incontestably cemented. 6227 runs at an average of 47.5 from 79 Tests is substantial evidence to the well argued case of many that Kanhai was the best batsman produced by the Land of Many Waters.
“He discovered, created a new dimension in batting,” is how CLR James remembered Kanhai after watching him in action. James went on, “Kanhai found his way into regions (Don) Bradman never knew.” Case closed.
Coming in behind Kanhai is a man who, it was said ‘was born to bat’. Alvin Kallicharran played 66 Test and fashioned 4399 runs at an exemplary average of 44.43.
`Kalli’s’ first two innings in Test cricket were both tons. On debut at Bourda on April 7th 1972 he played a fairy tale innings of 100 not out. Two weeks later he leaped from six to three in the batting order in Trinidad and repeated the feat. All told, he scored 12 Test centuries, along with 21 half centuries.
Clive Hubert Lloyd, the West Indies’ most celebrated and successful skipper will marshal the boys from the number five position. Lloyd scored more Test runs than any other Guyanese, he finished on 7515 runs in 110 Tests. The ‘big bespectacled cat’ who hit the ball like a rumbling thunderbolt, mauled 19 centuries and reached fifty 30 times.
The DCC player’s right-arm medium pace which brought him 114 Test wickets can also add variety to the bowling.
Colin Croft, the hostile paceman from Unity Village will surely have to spearhead the attack. His 125 Test wickets from only 27 Tests records Croft as being Guyana’s foremost fastman. His aggression upfront can soften any batting order as the Pakistanis found out at the Queens Park Oval when he wrecked them with 8 for 29. None of the more illustrious West Indian fast bowling names have ever managed to better those figures produced by ‘Croftie’ in March 1977.
The peerless West Indian spinner will take over from Croft once the ball has lost some shine. Lance Gibbs, the fast bowler trapped in an off spinner’s skin, once the world’s leading wicket taker and the first spinner to ever take 300 wickets can combine with Croft to dismantle the opposition without much fuss.
The ultra-aggressive Gibbs hauled in 309 wickets at an average of 29.09 with a phenomenal economy rate of 1.98.
We have settled on an opener, three middle order batsmen, a pacer and a spinner. We now need a partner for Fredericks, a middle order batsman, the keeper, an all rounder and another pacer.
The contenders for the next opening slot are straightforward, Stephen Camacho and Clayton Lambert.
Camacho partnered Fredericks with good success for Guyana and made it into the West Indies team but did not produce as handsomely at the higher level. At first class he made 4079 runs at an average of 34.86. He only donned Test whites 11 times, never scored a century and had an average of 29.09.
Clayton Lambert’s record and bravado effectively rules him in. Lambert scored 8375 first class runs at a very respectable average of 43.61. His 263 was the regional record for the highest individual score until Shiv Chanderpaul overhauled it with his superlative and still standing 303.
Three names contest for number six. Basil Butcher that ultimate beater of bad bowling, Carl Hooper the elegant beauty queen of batsmen and Shiv Chanderpaul the reliable, steadfast warrior.
Butcher played the least Tests of the trio. From 44 games he accumulated 3104 runs at 43.11. Seven times he raised his bat after making a century and 16 times for fifties. Though he was not a feared destroyer, none could put away loose balls with greater efficiency. His case for selection is a commanding one.
Chanderpaul, to date has played 22 Tests more than Butcher and has 4155 runs at 44.20 on average. ‘Tiger’ has one more century than Butcher and 12 more half centuries. Being a contemporary player we are intensely aware of how critical his presence is to the fledgling West Indies batting line up. Chanderpaul is a calm fighter who embodies hope in dire times. Rarely is he flamboyant, almost always he is effective at piling on runs on the scorecard.
Hooper, the classical sure footed batsman who can carve a six with the delicacy of a seasoned neurosurgeon labored for 102 Tests in compiling 5762 runs. It is almost universally accepted that his 36.46 average is a disgrace to his talent as a batsman.
That he looks like making triple figures every time he reaches the crease has probably caused too much to be expected of him. Had he been in the mould of a Chanderpaul, Hooper would have probably attracted much acclaim for his successes.
This is the toughest call to make in selecting this team. Chanderpaul, by virtue of the stability which he brings, edges out Hooper and Butcher into the final specialist batting slot.
Roger Harper and Hooper are head to head challengers for the all rounder position. The towering off spinning Harper has to his advantage being one of the finest fielders the game has ever known. Hooper’s runs and wickets though, outweighs both Harper’s 535 runs and 45 wickets in Tests. At the first class level Hooper is still statistically superior.
Was Hooper’s off spin as good as Harper’s though? Harper took 567 first class wickets, Hooper snarled 531 including 114 in Tests. Though Harper took 36 more, I will take Hooper as my all rounder for his measureless authority with the bat.
The wicketkeeper’s gloves will be worn by Milton Pydanna who snapped up 188 victims behind the sticks. I am tempted to ask Kanhai to do the duties of the keeper but will restrain myself. Doing that would give me the added dilemma of choosing either Harper or Butcher.
The final slot, that of the second pacer will be filled by arguably the fastest bowler ever from Guyana - John Trim. Though Trim only played 4 Tests (18 wickets) and 34 first class games (95 wickets) he was respected as a paceman who can cause batsmen to question the quality of their eyesight.
The only disappointment of this team is that in includes no leg spinner of worth. Perhaps I am being unfair to Mahendra Nagamootoo. I am not the first.
So My Ultimate Guyana XI:
1. Roy Fredericks
2. Clayton Lambert
3. Rohan Kanhai
4. Alvin Kallicharran
5. Clive Lloyd - Captain
6. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
7. Carl Hooper
8. Milton Pydanna - Wicketkeeper
9. Colin Croft
10. John Trim
11. Lance Gibbs
*Find out next week, who will make Imran’s Best West Indies XI.