Guyana's first outstanding cricketers
History This Week
By Winston McGowan
July 6th 2006
The first instalment of this article focused on four of the eight outstanding cricketers who represented Guyana in the earliest phase of the history of Guyanese cricket. This phase lasted from 1865, when the country and Barbados contested the initial first-class cricket match in the Caribbean, to the end of the century. This second instalment will deal with the other four outstanding cricketers.
One of them was O.E. Weber, an all-rounder who batted in the middle order and opened the bowling. He played eight intercolonial games between 1891 and 1904, which was then a record for the highest number of appearances by a Guyanese in first-class cricket.
His most notable achievements were in two games against Barbados at the Wanders ground in Barbados in September 1891. He captured eleven wickets in the first match and ten in the second. In the first innings of the first match he became the first Guyanese to take as many as eight wickets in an innings, capturing 8 for 17 in 13.2 overs.
Weber's team-mate, H.R. Vyfhuis was also an outstanding cricketer. He was an economical, penetrative opening bowler.
In the six intercolonial games which he played for British Guiana between 1896 and 1901 he captured 37 wickets conceding 532 runs in 293 overs, of which 115 were maidens. Vyfhuis, however, was eclipsed by two players of his era, namely, Edward Wright and Hampden King who were outstanding all-rounders. Wright was the finest cricketer in the Caribbean in the period before 1900. He was the rare combination of a star batsman who was not only a fast bowler, but also its best bowler.
In the six intercolonial games which he played for British Guiana between 1882 and 1895, Wright took 33 wickets for 300 runs in 198 four-ball overs, with an average of 9.09 runs a wicket. Only one Guyanese in the long history of intercolonial cricket has a better bowling average than Wright. The player is P. McDermott, whose career was highlighted in the first instalment of this article.
Though Wright was a fine bowler, he was more renowned for his batting. He holds the honour of being the first batsman to score a century in first-class cricket in the Caribbean. He performed this notable feat in a remarkable innings of 123 out of his team's score of 168 in a game against Trinidad at the Parade Ground in September 1882. This innings was also historic because no other West Indian batsman before or subsequently has contributed such a large proportion (73 per cent) of his team's score in an innings. Furthermore, no West Indian player has dominated his team's batting as consistently as Wright did throughout his intercolonial career. In intercolonial games Wright scored a total of 470 runs in 10 innings at what was then in Caribbean cricket a phenomenal average of 47 runs in an innings. This career batting average remained a record for Guyanese intercolonial cricket for over fifty years until it was surpassed by the opener, Leslie Wight, in the early 1950s.
Wright is undoubtedly the best all-rounder in the entire history of Guyanese cricket. He has batting and bowling statistics which are far better than those of any other Guyanese all-rounder.
Wright's successor as Guyana's best batsman and most penetrative bowler was Hampden King. Like Wright, he was a middle-order batsman and an opening bowler.
His greatest achievement was that he was the first Guyanese and West Indian to score two centuries in first-class cricket - 135 against Trinidad at Bourda in 1895 in his first appearance in such cricket and 104 in 1901 in his last intercolonial game again against Trinidad at Bourda.
As a bowler King captured at least ten wickets in an intercolonial game on two occasions. In the six intercolonial games which he played he took 37 wickets for 363 runs with an average of 9.81 runs a wicket.
These early outstanding Guyanese cricketers are virtually unknown or forgotten today. This largely explains why none of them has yet been inducted in the national Cricket Hall of Fame. This is a grave injustice, especially to Wright - an injustice which the Guyana Cricket Board needs urgently to redress.