By Ravi Madholall
When quizzed about his favorite cricketers, not surprising, Brian Stephney revealed a plethora of names, both internationally and locally.
An Essequibian, but the buoyant leggy has made cricket a trade after now settling down in London, England.
His representation for Leeward Islands at the first-class level also demonstrated Stephney’s profound love for the game. His dreams came true to play a regional four-day tournament, under the auspices of Cricket West Indies.
It continued and he turned out as a specialist spinner for Montserrat, a place he called home for over 15 years, in the Allen Sanford Extravaganza T20.
No doubt because of his tremendous talent, Stephney was able to play for Guyana National Under-19 team in 2002 when the regional youth tournament was held in Jamaica.
The likes of many famous spinners would have certainly emerged from him as he quickly said that five of his favorite spinners were Australian Shane Warne, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, Pakistanis Danish Kaneria and his compatriots Roger Harper and Clyde Butts.
Two of Essequibo’s finest left-arm spinners Besham Seepersaud and Ray Reid, both with Guyana under-19 experience, also were mentioned by Stephney, who related that growing up in Essequibo and started to play cricket at the school and club levels is very memorable.
He started off at Gunners Sports Club, a popular team that helped a large pool of talents to become prominent. Stephney, whose uncle Mark Stephney and his two cousins Elroy and Marvin also represented Essequibo while Marvin featured in Guyana’s youth side. Like Brian, Mark also played for Montserrat in the Sanford tournament.
Apart from those players who inspired Brain to make steady progress with his game and was good enough to bowl for Leeward Islands senior team, there were many other players who gave him great encouragement to take up the game seriously since he had shown immense talent to spin the ball prodigiously.
Special thanks to Hakim Khan, the owner of the club and a former Essequibo Cricket Board President while other players Prince Holder, Lawrence Farnum, Dinesh Joseph, Daren Brown, Fidel Cameron, Rovendra Mandolall, Rayburn Holder, Sahadeo Hardiow, Jermaine Singh, Rowell John, the late Troy Jeffrey, Devon Ramnauth, Motie Narine, Ryan and Claude Amsterdam, Raul and Romain Khan among others were mentioned as very helpful during his learning days, according to Brian. Brian informed too that the late Courtney Gonsalves played a pivotal part with his development.
Now playing professionally in England representing Leicester, Brain stated that the love for the sport is unstoppable and he enjoys cricket from last year when he decided to continue with the game at the age of 36.
“I [am] glad for the opportunity to play competitive cricket for Leicester here in England; the cricket is very challenging but certainly I’m enjoying it,” Brian declared.
Plying his trade in the Caribbean Islands from Montserrat and Antigua and Barbuda, Brian also spoke greatly of the standard of cricket there and his time at the Sanford T20 annual tournament which was very lucrative.
“It was always great to play first-class cricket and had the opportunity to be in the team to play against Jamaica and Barbados; it was very competitive and it will be remembered for a very long, long time while being a part of the Sanford competition was also very wonderful,” Brian, who only got a solitary first-class wicket, expressed.
He emphasized the importance of hard work and discipline if you want to reach at the highest level and sharing dressing rooms with some of Leeward Islands accomplished players is also unforgettable for Brain. Ridley Jacobs, an ex-West Indies wicketkeeper was among the players while special mention was made of Sylvester Joseph, Lion Baker, Wilden Cornwall and Omari Banks as some of his teammates.
Brain said that now he is indoor but trying to keep fit mentally and physically and very hopeful and optimistic the cricket season should resume in two months’ time. This is due to the COVID-19 which has put the globe at standstill.