Guyana Independence Celebration

Jon Harris

"Neither sleet nor snow shall stay him from his appointed rounds" is not usually attributed to cricketers. In fact, often the first rain drop is enough to make them scurry for shelter. Such was not the case at the match played as part of the 36th Guyana Independence Celebration.

Four former first class players from Guyana were joined by five former members of Canada's national team to play through ice pellets driven by a northerly wind on a sodden field. I had not anticipated the size of the crowd, which was not only following the game through a live commentary, but was seriously in the mood for having fun as part of their celebration. The promotion material had invited "2 Nights To Party", but as is the case when cricketers gather together the stories are the party.

Mike Tranquada, beyond bragging about his two kids having won tennis scholarships to American universities, and both having returned with MBA's to tell him how to run his myriad businesses, reminisced about clouting Botham all over the field at The Oval in London circa 1971. I had known both Mike and Danny Vassall when they were kids. and I was still older than them, even then. Their undefeated partnership of 170 against the Surrey Colts is unlikely to be surpassed in the annals of Canadian cricket, but there is much to this story.

The Canadian Colts XI were set an improbable total. During the Surrey Colts innings Botham and Tranquada exchanged a few words. This came about following a few lusty blows from Botham, who suggested to Mike that he (Botham) bowled a bit. Undeterred Mike responded "Oh, really. I bat a bit too.". The Colts were set 241 to win with 3 hours to play. Mike had a quiet word with the coach, a Ridley master, and suggested that the order be changed. Danny scored 120 n.o. and Mike officially made 46 n.o., being denied his fifty due to a scorers error. The rest is history, but I doubt that Botham has such fond memories of the game as do Mike and Danny.

There were many other conversations about cricket at this festive occasion. There was worry about letting the kids down with respect to Disneyland and Texas. There were rumblings about the national team, and how it would fare at the World Cup 2003, and questions about whether the squad would be adequately prepared. Of course there were lots of questions, all of which have been asked many times before. There have been no answers, and how could there be, when nobody is permitted to talk. Silence is said to be golden, but it can also be festering, and gold does not have a smell. No mention was made of Canada's cricketing governing body, but we all knew who we were not talking about. Contrary to the general perception, silence, in law, does not give consent.


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