By John L. Aaron | Scorecard | Photo Gallery
On a June 20th day, threatened with the downpouring of showers from above, a man named Gary David Nascimento was praised with an outpouring of love and support and a benefit cricket match in between; for his many contributions to the sport here in the USA and his native Guyana.
Despite the wet forecast and threatening skies, Idlewild Cricket Ground was transformed into the scene of a festive benefit match honoring Gary Nascimento, the long-time cricket player, coach, administrator and umpire in the New York metropolitan area. The scene was set some 10 weeks prior to the event by a committee labeled Eastern American Cricket Association & Friends of Gary Nascimento, and led by veteran New York and national cricket administrator Krish Prasad. The group was very meticulous in its planning, sparing no detail, large or small, and with no expense budget allocations.
Players had to be contacted, Idlewild secured, umpires solicited, a logo designed, shirts printed, trophies assembled, food arranged, tents and chairs procured, a plaque engraved, posters produced, flowers ordered, over-sized photo-op check crafted, beverages distilled, commentators’ voices cleared, music recorded, a clean-up crew identified, and several friends of Gary Nascimento invited.
The only detail, the organizers could not arrange nor guarantee, was absolutely beautiful weather. However, the committee, along with the scores of cricket fans and well-wishers assembled in the park, soon adapted, and the show was on the road.
The 30-Overs match featured several contemporaries of the honoree was off to a weather-related late start. A Gary Nascimento Guyana XI challenged a Rest of the Caribbean XI, and sought to get in a full day of cricket before the skies opened up. However, it was not so much about the match, as it was about the man himself. So Gary Nascimento, flanked by his wonderful wife Margaret, his sister Carol from Canada, brother Dennis, and the offspring of Gary and Margaret Nascimento, daughter Shivon and son Shane, all soaked up the adulation and outpouring of love and support, fit for a returning war veteran or Olympic gold medalist.
To say Nasci as he is familiarly called, was pleased, would be an understatement. I believe he was more pleased to see so many of his peers and other associates, all of whom made his day, beyond the material accolades bestowed upon him at the end of the day. Faoud Bacchus, Clayton Lambert, Sew Shivnarain, Sydney Matthews, Derrick Kallicharran, Amirnauth Ramcharitar, Colin Jackman, Milton Pydanna, Rabindranauth Seeram, Debo Sankar, Carlyle Miller, and Keith Aaron were in attendance, to name a few.
Then there was Joseph “Reds” Perriera sending him greetings from somewhere in the Caribbean. Not unlike Gary Nascimento, Reds did not let the opportunity go by and not rub Nasci. In his best wishes tribute to the former Georgetown Cricket Club captain, the veteran sports broadcaster and writer wrote, “I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Gary for a very long time, and even had a good relationship with his father. Gary loved the game of cricket and did extremely well although he was not naturally athletic. I could only describe him as a smart intelligent bowler who used to outthink batsmen with his subtle guile. A man with a great sense of humour, and with whom I once shared a house in Campbellville along with Rupert Gomes. I have great memories of many successful parties but unfortunately Gary and Rupert did not match their cricket skills with their cleaning efforts. They were terrible.”
It was that kind of day, as several persons stopped by Nasci’s tent to wish him well, or to reminisce about the ‘ole days. As the many well-wishers romped mentally with Gary Nascimento’s mind, vividly and intimately recalling innings or bowling spells, as though it was only yesterday; and the match continuing with the Gary Nascimento Guyana XI replying to the Austin Hutchinson led Rest of the Caribbean XI’s knock of 179 in 20-overs; the skies opened up, showering the honoree and everyone else with heavenly blessings. Thank God for Star Party Rental’s contribution of several 10×10 tents.
Would the match ever resume? It was anybody’s guess and Gary Nascimento did not appear to mind, as the match and the color commentary of the renowned Lenny Achaibar with newcomer side-kick John Aaron, got in the way of Nasci being the center of all attention. Shortly before that, the assembled crowd watched Sudesh Dhaniram, as he slashed, cut, swept and hooked his way to a half-century, along with fellow opener Clayton Lambert punching his way out of a paper bag and recording 34 off of 27 balls. Dhaniram’s knock of 54 (3x6s, 6x4s) off 31 deliveries was a gem, before he opted out of the middle to make way for Faoud Bacchus, himself a legend in the annals of Guyana’s cricket history. His contribution of 8 off an equal number of balls did not go unnoticed, and just before Nasci and his entourage, along with everyone else, was showered with raindrops under his majestic canopy.
The Gary Nascimento Guyana XI had reached 110 for no loss, except the crowd’s loss of seeing Dhaniram from the middle. And so Mr. Duckworth and Mr. Lewis were introduced, declaring the Gary Nascimento’s XI winners, but no one really cared. The Austin Hutchinson Rest of the Caribbean XI had earlier posted 179 including knocks of 62 (4x6s, 4x4s) from D. Bennett off 40 deliveries and retired, former USA captain Richard Staple’s 32 off 12 balls with 4x6s and one boundary, and 21 off 26 balls from C. Davidson. Sew Shivnarain was the pick of the Gary Nascimento bowlers, with 2 for 16 off his cameo two overs. The Gary Nascimento XI used nine bowlers, either in an effort to have more time to celebrate with Nasci or just enough throw downs for the bowlers to find the right line and length, before being yanked. Fortunately, no Masters national selectors were in attendance.
As the rain arrived, out came an assortment of coverings to secure the public address system, food, trophies, raffle prizes, and the pitch; a fork was stuck in the match and none too soon, as there was still a raffle to be drawn, speeches to be made, beverages to be consumed, and a man to be presented with a plaque commemorating the event.
There was a break in the rainfall, enough to draw the raffle, which included prizes from cricket bats, to a bicycle, to free Laparkan shipping vouchers, and a monetary prize.
The committee, along the way did not forget the woman – Margaret Nascimento, who stood alongside Nasci through the years, and in her words, “Through thick and thin, I am in this with him to the end,” referring to Nasci’s deteriorating health. Margaret Nascimento was presented with a bouquet of red roses, as a token of appreciation for her steadfast commitment to her 38-year marriage to Nasci, and by extension the sport of cricket.
There were speeches, there were hugs, and there were even a few wet eyes, as so many recalled the many contributions of Gary Nascimento, particularly to the growth and development of youth cricket, both in Guyana and the USA.
In his own words Gary Nascimento thanked those his memory remembered, and the many his mind forgot, for the outpouring of love and support extended to him and his family. His daughter Shivon in a moving tribute to her dad and his desire to continue fighting, also thanked the committee for the enormous effort extended to the former cricketer, coach, administrator and umpire – Gary David Nascimento.
The EACA & Friends of Gary Nascimento Committee – Ralph Tamesh, Johnnie Sanasie, Sew Shivnarain, Bhola Ramsundar, Krish Prasad, Rudy Persaud, Jameel “JZ” Mohammed, Ajit Mootoo, Derrick Kallicharran, John Aaron, and many others who played an integral role in turning the idea into a reality, would like to thank all those who contributed in one way or another to the Gary Nascimento Benefit Match.