Cricketers who represented Guyana in its somewhat distant colonial past
History This Week
By Winston McGowan
October 19th 2006
Many of the cricketers who represented Guyana in its somewhat distant colonial past are unknown or forgotten today, even by ardent followers of the game. This is particularly the case of players in the era before the Second World War. Among such players is Charles Ernest Llewellyn Jones.
Jones, like two of his colleagues in the British Guiana team, namely Cyril Rutherford Browne and James Neblett, and Clyde Walcott much later, was a Barbadian by birth and played first-class cricket for both Barbados and British Guiana. He was born in Barbados on November 3, 1902 and died in Georgetown on December 10, 1959 at the age of fifty-seven. His death evoked little public comment apart from the following terse statement in the Daily Chronicle newspaper- "Mr. Charles Jones, an ex-intercolonial cricketer died suddenly at his residence 53 Bent Street, Wortmanville yesterday. He was employed at the Education Department.
Jones was born in Barbados in 1903 (sic) and later came to British Guiana where he was employed at the Customs Department and subsequently at the Education Department."
In spite of the lack of special recognition of Jones then and today, he occupies a significant position in the history of Guyanese cricket. This may seem surprising because his career statistics are unimpressive.
Jones was a left-handed all-rounder who was a capable batsman and a useful orthodox slow bowler. He did not have a fixed place in the batting order and, depending on the circumstances, was required to bat at any position between the opening spot and Number 9. In general, he was valued more for his batting than for his bowling and he was a good fieldsman with a safe pair of hands.
By far the most significant aspect of Jones' cricket career is the fact that he was the first Malteenoes Sports Club player to represent British Guiana and the West Indies. In his era and for decades afterwards, it was extremely difficult for members of that club to gain selection on the Guianese national team.
The Malteenoes Sports Club had been founded in 1902 by Ferdinand Archer, a Barbadian immigrant who was a master tailor, to provide recreation for underprivileged working class residents, especially Blacks who could not become members of the elitist clubs such as the Georgetown Cricket Club (G.C.C.) and the British Guiana Cricket Club (B.G.C.C.). Because of their origins Malteenoes players were not granted justice by the prejudiced national cricket selectors who were strongly influenced by considerations of colour, class and race. This factor largely explains why later as good a fast bowler as Willie Woolford, who was widely known for his ability to swing the ball late in both directions and was very successful in local club cricket, was never selected to represent his country.
Jones' outstanding success in such cricket enabled him to penetrate the formidable walls of prejudice and to gain selection for British Guiana for the first time in 1925 in a game against Barbados at Bourda, where his team secured a rare victory over its arch rivals by eight wickets. Jones, however, did not contribute much to this victory. Batting at Number 9, he scored 14 in his only innings, and with the ball he had figures of 0 for 37 in 8 overs and 1 for 25 in 12 overs in the two innings.
Thereafter for the following fourteen years Jones was a regular member of the British Guiana team, missing only one game. His first-class career eventually came to an end in 1939 at the age of 36 when the outbreak of the Second World War interrupted regional and international cricket.
In this period from 1925 to 1939, when regional first-class matches were infrequent, Jones represented British Guiana in 19 games, scoring 861 runs in 34 innings, with a moderate average of 25.83 runs an innings. He never had the distinction of scoring a first class century, his highest score being 89 not out at Bourda against Barbados in September 1929, and batting at Number 8. His batting helped his team to reach a formidable first-innings total of 610 and to win the game by the massive margin of 391 runs.
Jones scored four other half-centuries for British Guiana in first-class cricket. These knocks were 85, his team's top score against Barbados at Bourda in September 1934, 69 against Trinidad a few days later at the same venue, 72 against the M.C.C tourists in 1935 and 51 against Rolph Grant's XI in 1939 in a game which was a trial match to select the West Indies touring team to England.
Jones' bowling supplemented his batting. It was usually economical, but seldom very penetrative. In matches for British Guiana he captured 19 wickets at a high average cost of 45.47 runs, conceding 864 runs in 330 overs. His best bowling performance was 3 for 19 against the M.C.C. tourists in 1935.
One of Jones' distinctions is that he was one of only eight players from British Guiana to represent the West Indies in the six Test series which the regional team contested in the first phase of its involvement in Test cricket from 1928 to 1939. This was a period when players from British Guiana did not make a major contribution to the West Indies team.
Jones was no exception, achieving very little success in the four Tests which he played. All these games were against England in the Caribbean, one in 1930 and three in 1935. In them in seven innings he scored only 63 runs with a highest score of 19 achieved on two occasions and a paltry average of nine runs an innings. He was hardly required to bowl and on the rare occasions when requested to do so, his bowling was containing not penetrative. In 17 overs, including 11 maidens, he conceded only 11 runs, without capturing a single wicket.
Nevertheless, Jones's unsuccessful Test career had two significant features. Firstly, he was a member of the West Indies team which achieved the region's first ever victory in a Test match. This historic win was gained against England at Bourda in February 1930 under the leadership of a Guyanese, Maurius Fernandes. Jones' contribution to the victory by 289 runs, however, was negligible. Batting at Number 9 and 11, he had scores of only 6 and 2 and bowled only in the second innings, conceding 5 runs in 10 overs, including 7 maidens, without taking a wicket.
Secondly, Jones and the wicket-keeper batsman, Cyril Christiani, were the first pair of players from British Guiana to open batting for the West Indies in a Test match. This occurred in the second Test against England at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad in January 1935 which the West Indies won by 217 runs, with Jones making 19 in each innings. In the next Test a few weeks later at Bourda, Jones was part of the second such opening pair when he partnered the G.C.C. left-hander, Kenneth Wishart, in the first innings.
In Jones' entire career he played 27 first-class matches, scoring 917 runs in 45 innings with an average of 21.83 runs an innings. In these games he also took 21 catches and captured 24 wickets at 44.12 runs each, conceding 1059 runs in 405 overs, including 86 maidens.
These modest statistics, admittedly, did not reflect the talent of Charles Jones, a competent batsman and bowler whose all-round ability was surpassed in British Guiana then only by Cyril Browne. Even if the Guyanese nation as a whole today does not remember Jones, he should certainly be held in veneration at least by members of the Malteenoes Sports Club for it was he who first opened the door to national cricket for poor black players whom the club had been founded to serve. In short, Jones was a pioneer, the earliest predecessor of John Trim, Glendon Gibbs and more recently Clayton Lambert and Colin Stuart, Malteenoes players who not only represented Guyana, but also the West Indies in Test cricket.