By Sam Sooppersaud
This year’s Annual Guyana Tri-County Championship Tournament will be played on Saturday, September 9, at Baisley Pond Park Cricket Field, 150th Street and Baisley Boulevard, Queens, New York. The tournament was started in British Guiana (Guyana) in the 1940s, and is still contested each year by the three counties of Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo in Guyana.
The Inter County Series, as it was known by in my teens and throughout my playing days, when I had the honor of putting on the jersey for my county of Berbice, was the premier competition among the three counties. As you may well know, British Guiana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966, and has since assumed the name Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
The Inter-County tournament was inaugurated in 1954 by Mr. William Stanley Jones, the first President of the British Guiana Cricket Board which itself was constituted in 1943, the series was called the Inter County Games. Later, it became known as the Banks DIH Tournament. The name was changed depending on who was the sponsor at the time. I have no idea what the tournament is known as these days in Guyana. However, it is now referred to as the Tri County Games or the Inter County Games, in New York.
During its original staging in Guyana, the dominant county was Demerara. Then as time went by, the advantage shifted to the Ancient County of Berbice. Essequibo often found itself faltering behind the other two counties due to the lack of proper organization and coaching. But during that time, did produce some promising cricketers. The games were played mostly at the famous Bourda Cricket Ground in Georgetown and at the Rose Hall Welfare Centre Cricket Stadium. Numerous great players have come through the ranks of the Inter County Games, to name a few: Glendon Gibbs, Lance Gibbs, Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, Roger Harper, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ronnie Sarwan, and numerous others. Many others went on to represent Guyana, though they did not graduate to the West Indies level. Players such as Karia Chanderpaul and Walter Bovell from Skeldon, Vic Harnanan, Joe Sukwah, Ancel Haze from Rose Hall, Hamil Murray, Evans, and Minty from Mental Hospital Cricket Club. Isaac Sieunarine, Smallie Mahabir, and Randolph Ramnarace, and too many others to name.
The Guyanese immigrants to USA, New York, to be more specific, have kept up the tradition by continuing to compete for the Inter County Championship, every year. The annual cricket fixture features USA based representative teams from the three counties of Guyana, with Insaf “Birdman” Ali is the principal sponsor and organizer, while the individual teams have procured individual team sponsorships.
This weekend’s fixture features a number of talented cricketers now playing in the New York metropolitan area, such as Alex Amsterdam, Hemindra Ramdihal, Muneshwar Patandin, Telston Johnson, Andre Kirton and Mark Tyrell. The games this coming Saturday will be of the Twenty20 format. Following past practice, the previous year’s champion will get a bye from the first game. The 2016 champion is Demerara, therefore, in the first game starting at 10:00 AM, cricket fans will see Berbice taking on the Cinderella County of Essequibo. I must point out here that this game will not be “a walk in the park for the Berbicians.” Unlike their counterpart in Guyana, the New York based Essequibians have fielded some very tough teams lately. In a few games, in the past, they have lost by very thin margins. I know that Telston Johnson is getting a squad of the very best players together, to represent his county of Essequibo.
In the second and championship game of the day beginning at 2:00 PM, the winner of the Berbice-Essequibo clash, will take on the current champions Demerara. As usual, a “firefight” is expected. Judging from the performances of the players from Berbice and Essequibo in the current leagues around the metropolitan area, the two counties are matched head-to-head. This coming Saturday, we’ll find out which is the better; in fact which is the best, and this includes Essequibo. I am not writing them off!
The following squads have been announced and are ready to go this Saturday at Baisley Pond Park. It is as much a competition for the players, as it is for the management personnel.
The Demerara squad is sponsored by Hafeez Ali and Rudy Persaud, and includes Wasim Haslim, Captain, Muneshwar Chris Patandin, Jeetendra Sookdeo, Kevin Nazir, Seon Daniels, Zaheer Mohamed, Randall Wilson, Andre Kirton, Keon Lake, Matthew Marks, Kevin Yadram, Trevor Henry, Sarfraz Esau and Garvin Singh, with Milton Pydanna, Coach, Hafeez Ali, Manager and Rudy Persaud, Assistant Manager.
Berbice is sponsored by JZ of City Bias & Stitching Company, Ajit Mootoo, Legend Cookhouse, Little Guyana Bake Shop, Rayan Trucking, Westchester Stairlift, Dilip, and Javan C. Seepaul, and the team includes Alex Amsterdam, Akshay Homraj, Derrick Narine, Karan Ganesh, Michael Noble, Hemindra Ramdihal, Zamal Khan, Moshin Khan, Terrence Madramootoo, Shiv K. Sangalema, Sudesh Dhaniram, Renwick Batson and Mahendra Nagamootoo, with Sew Shivnarain, Coach, Ajit Mootoo, Assistant Coach and JZ Mohamed, Manager.
The Essequibo team is sponsored by Johnny Sanasie, CPA, and Windies Restaurant & Bar. The team includes Telston Johnson, Captain, Tamesh Balwant, Clain Williams, Nicholas Chinkoo, Shiv Raghubar, Melvin Seepersaud, Kelvin Seepersaud, Andy Mohamed, Deonauth Baksh, Mark Gomes, Mark Tyrell, Keron Krishna and Prashad Mahadeo, with Rudy John, Coach and Andrew Harripaul, Manager.
Well known and respected umpires Steve Kalloo and Joel Dookie will officiate the matches.
Admission to Baisley Pond Park is free and fans are encouraged to bring their families out to watch some exciting cricket, as the representative teams each seek to win the 2017 Guyana Inter County trophy and claim “ego boosting bragging rights” for the next year.
This will be an excellent opportunity to catch up with old cricket friends, and to make new friends. It is always a day of picnicking, eating and drinking with people whom we may not have seen for years. Come out and have a great day at Baisley Pond Park.
We at www.usacricketers.com will bring you a live scorecard of the games.