“FOLLOWING his return to then British Guiana in 1914 from England, where he had the distinct privilege of meeting with Ranjitsinhji, the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, John Aloysius Veerasawmy, he founded the East Indian Cricket Club (EICC), which later became Everest Cricket Club, with the support of prominent Indo-Guyanese.”These included Alladat Khan, a bookkeeper from Berbice, and a Muslim, with the club first being located in Queenstown on December 13, 1915 on land leased to it by Veerasawmy, on which a pavilion was built.”
This piece of history on the Camp Road-based Everest Cricket Club was made known to the public last Tuesday night by Professor Clem Seecharan, BA, MA, PhD who is a writer/historian of the Indo-Caribbean experience, born in Guyana, grew up in East Berbice, Corentyne and obtained his doctorate at the University of Warwick.
He was at the time addressing an audience that included Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony, Attorney-at-Law Stephen Lewis, Honorary Secretary of the Guyana Cricket Board Anand Sanasie, Guyana and West Indies middle- order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and well known historian Tota Mangar.
The occasion was dubbed ‘An evening with Professor Clem Seecharan’ and was held in the upper pavilion of the Club which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and which saw the Seecharan make the feature address, following brief remarks from Dr Anthony, Mangar and ECC president Rajesh Singh.
According to Professor Seecharan, the club’s very first executive (1915-1916) was: Thomas Flood (president), RR Kerry (vice-president), JA Veerasawmy (secretary/treasurer), E Bacchus, RB Gajraj, Francis Kawall, JS Pariag, A. Rohomon, J. Rohomon, R. Rohoman, P. Sawh, J. Subryan (committee members) and J.A. Luckhoo (captain).
Governor Egerton and a large crowd attended the first match played at the EICC ground in Queenstown, on December 18, 1915.
He added, “Initially, the club participated in the second division competition that was known as the Garnett Cup, in 1915 and was one of the four teams that tied for first place in 1919, even though they won the Garnett Cup in 1925, 1926 and 1927 – the first club to do so on three successive occasions.
In 1927 the club’s application to be promoted to the first division Parker Cup was rejected, because the Queenstown ground was not big enough, hence they acquired a lease on a large piece of swampy land on Camp Road, a few hundred yards from the ocean.
The land was quickly transformed into a proper cricket ground, with a sizeable pavilion and the new EICC ground was opened on April 30, 1928 by Governor Cecil Rodwell and the club was admitted to the first division in 1929, to compete for the Parker Cup.”
Known for his historical facts, Professor Seecharan would have seen many heads within the audience nodding in agreement as he related the struggles the-then EICC had to endure in order to achieve first division status.
“Mohamed Insanally succeeded JA Luckhoo as EICC captain in 1919 and remained captain until 1927, when he was succeeded by A. Rohoman while Thomas Flood was succeeded by HB Gajraj as president and on June 24 1929, Reverend CF Andrews, a personal friend of Gandhi, addressed EICC members on the subject of Indian unity.
He was satisfied with the state of affairs in British Guiana and counselled EICC members and other Indians to recognise the unifying role and to continue supporting the club, hence in 1929 the EICC executive included HB Gajraj (president), Francis Kawall (vice-president), Ramprashad (junior vice-president), David Iloo (secretary) and Ranjit Singh (captain from 1930 to 1941),” stated Seecharan.
He added, “The EICC provided many players for matches between the Indians of British Guiana and the Indians of Trinidad, which began in 1914, with JA Veerasawmy playing first class cricket for British Guiana in 1921 and 1922 while he was an EICC member, but the club did not play first division cricket at that time.
However in 1937, Chatterpaul ‘Doosha’ Persaud, an EICC member playing first division cricket for the club, made a sensational first class debut for British Guiana against Barbados, at Bourda scoring 174 in his very first first-class innings while adding 381 with Peter Bayley (268) as British Guiana won by an innings and 229 runs” said Seecharan, who wished the club well in their centenary observations.
Today, the ECC facility has been used for international and regional matches and was one of two practice venues in Guyana, when the country hosted matches in the International Cricket Council’s 2007 World Cup. They currently compete in Georgetown Cricket Association competitions, such as the Hadi’s Mall first division two-day competition, GCA/Carib Beer T20 and 2-innings competition and Noble House Seafoods two-day second division competition.
In addition to the above-mentioned, the club now boasts within its ranks of membership, Chanderpaul who last year became the first West Indian to play 150 Test matches, while he currently holds the record for most unbeaten centuries, along with the other records he boasts to his name.
Lewis later said the club has realised many achievements, but the most prized one is the acquisition of Chanderpaul to its ranks, one that he hopes will help improve the cricket programme at the club, while at the same time catapult them to the pinnacle of the sport in Guyana.
In his opening remarks, Singh expressed a warm welcome to the small but appreciative audience who came to celebrate with the club, saying another page in its history would have been written at the end of the proceedings.
“Professor Seecharan is probably one of if not the first individual to have put into writing, the ECC and having him back here is truly a special achievement now that we are 100 and still batting and while I would not go into much details, I do know that celebrating a milestone or an achievement is always something to look forward to and is excited about,” said Singh.
He added, “Every anniversary is important so I guess you can say that this 100th year is a golden one. To have achieved it is in itself something worthy of celebrating. To be able to look back, not only to mere existence over years, but to years filled with success and achievements however small, is most gratifying.
This road has not been an easy one, but despite the challenges, we somehow find a way to come back through on the bright side and I wish to say in conclusion, together we achieve, so let’s all work together for the betterment of the Everest Cricket Club.”
Dr Anthony called it a milestone year for the club, even as he challenged them to document the feats of the club, so that the many young players, who are present today and even those to come in the future will have the history of the club at their fingertips.