Guyana is set to observe its 54th Independence Day on Tuesday, May 26.
To mark the occasion in a cricketing context, here’s a Guyanese Test XI, formed from Guyanese players who have represented the West Indies in Test cricket.
Roy Fredericks (59 Tests from 1968-69 to 1976-77)
The left-handed Fredericks made his Test debut against Australia in Melbourne, and created an immediate impact with knocks of 76 and 47. His finest display also came against Australia, when he blitzed a stunning 71-ball century – then the second fastest in Tests – on the way to a career-best 169 in Perth in 1975-76. He hit 83 in his final innings, against Pakistan in Kingston, and finished with 4334 runs at 42.49.
Rohan Kanhai (79 Tests from 1957 to 1973-74)
One of the best batsmen of his time, Kanhai logged 6227 Test runs at 47.53. He was at his best at number three, but it was as opener – and wicketkeeper – that he debuted, against England at Edgbaston. The first of his 15 hundreds, against India in Calcutta in 1958-59, was converted into a monumental 256, which remained the highest Test score in India for 42 years. He led the West Indies in his last 13 Tests.
Alvin Kallicharran (66 Tests from 1971-72 to 1980-81)
Kallicharran became the seventh West Indies player to record a hundred on Test debut when he scored 100 not out against New Zealand before his home crowd at Bourda in Georgetown. The southpaw went on to finish with 4399 runs at 44.43, with his highest of 187, against India in Bombay in 1978-79, coming as captain. He was appointed at the helm in the previous season in the wake of the Kerry Packer episode.
Basil Butcher (44 Tests from 1958-59 to 1969)
Butcher, whose Test total was 3104 runs at 43.11, pips Ramnaresh Sarwan for the number four spot in my eleven. He first played for the West Indies in India, and made a mark with a bountiful tally of 486 at 69.42, including 103 in Calcutta and 142 in Madras. Two of his best knocks were in England – in 1963, he scored 133 out of a total of 229 at Lord’s, while in 1966, he struck 209 not out, a career high, at Trent Bridge.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (164 Tests from 1993-94 to 2014-15)
Known for his crab-like stance, the left-handed Chanderpaul went on to become the West Indies’ most capped player. In 2002-03, he hit 104 in a record chase of 418 against Australia in St John’s, while in 2004-05, he scored a career-best 203 not out against South Africa in Georgetown, in his first Test as captain. Often the lone warrior for his team, he finished with 11,867 runs – the second highest for the Windies – at 51.87.
Clive Lloyd (110 Tests from 1966-67 to 1984-85 – captain)
Our Guyanese XI is fittingly led by Lloyd, who was in charge of one of the greatest Test outfits for a decade. He captained 74 Tests, of which the West Indies won 36 and lost 12. The bespectacled left-hander scored 82 and 78 not out on debut in Bombay (Brabourne), and ended up with 7515 runs at 46.67. In 1974-75, Bombay (Wankhede) also saw his highest score of 242 not out, which enabled his side to clinch the series 3-2.
Carl Hooper (102 Tests from 1987-88 to 2002-03)
Another Guyanese who had the honour of leading the West Indies, Hooper is one of only five men to have done the double of 5000 runs and 100 wickets in Tests. He scored 5762 runs at 36.46, and took 114 wickets with his off-spin. His highest score of 233 was achieved as captain, against India in Georgetown in 2001-02, while his best innings return of 5-26 was against Sri Lanka at Arnos Vale in 1996-97.
Robert Christiani (22 Tests from 1947-48 to 1953-54 – wicketkeeper)
Though Christiani took the gloves in only one Test (instead of an injured Clyde Walcott in Calcutta in 1948-49), he was a skilled wicketkeeper. Batting at number six, he scored 99 in the second innings on debut, against England in Bridgetown. With his 107 against India in Delhi in 1948-49, this time from number eight, he became the first Guyanese to make a Test ton. In all, he scored 896 runs at 26.35.
Colin Croft (27 Tests from 1976-77 to 1981-82)
At his best, Croft was one of the most feared fast bowlers in Test cricket. Standing at 6’5”, he had a commendable match return of 7-132 in his first Test, against Pakistan in Bridgetown, before unleashing his most productive innings figures of 8-29 – still the best by a West Indies paceman – in the second Test in Port of Spain. He scalped 33 victims at 20.48 in the series, and 125 at 23.30 in the course of his career.
Lance Gibbs (79 Tests from 1957-58 to 1975-76)
By the time he had played his last Test, Gibbs had taken 309 wickets at 29.09, then a world record. The tall off-spinner, who took a hat trick in Adelaide in 1960-61, was known for his parsimony – his career economy rate was just 1.99. His best innings return, a memorable 8-38, was against India in Bridgetown in 1961-62, while his best match return of 11-157 (5-59 and 6-98) came against England at Old Trafford in 1963.
Reon King (19 Tests from 1998-99 to 2004-05)
Croft’s pace-bowling partner is King, whose intermittent career fetched him 53 wickets at 32.69. His debut at Centurion was forgettable, with match figures of 0-130, but he was impressive in his first home season a year later. He collected 5-51 in the first innings (7-81 in the match, both personal bests) against Zimbabwe in Kingston, before taking 12 wickets at 24.25 in three matches against Pakistan.