By Sam Sooppersaud
Cricket is a sport that is alive in the United States of America. It has been played in this country since the 1700s. Nearly all the states in the USA has at least one cricket field. Los Angeles, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and numerous other states each boast of having twenty fields or more. In numerous states there are cricket tournaments going on every year. In states where there are no adverse wintry conditions, cricket tournaments are played throughout the year. Yes, cricket is a popular sport, at least, for the immigrants from cricket-playing nations.
On weekends cricket fans in the thousands converge on the various cricket parks to watch their favorite sport. It’s a time spent meeting old friends and making new friends. It’s a time when the fans “forget” the various “trials” of life and just enjoy their cricket. While at the parks, what do you suppose the conversation is about? Cricket, of course. While many fans talk about the game in progress, numerous others get into discussions on games of the past. Invariably, the topic is Test Cricket. Who was the better batsman, who scored the fastest century, who took five or more wickets in an inning, and so on?
About a month ago I was at the Baisley Park Cricket Field, in Jamaica, New York, watching a cricket game. Two fans got into a discussion on West Indies cricket and players, of the past. The voices increased in decibels, as each was not able to convince the other of the “facts” as they saw them. Neither was able to substantiate his argument with any documentation. Eventually, the argument came to an end, each person claiming to have given the “true” facts.
Well, my fellow cricket fans and “historians” of the game, here is some good news. A new cricket book on West Indies cricket has hit the market: WI in Test Matches, Facts and Feats 1928-2013. The author, Mr. Ramnarine Sambhudat (Shako) has spent close to a decade researching the cricket libraries around the world in order to bring you the facts about West Indies cricket. He has poured through thousands upon thousands of pages on cricket games played by the WI around the world.
In planning the presentation of the facts the author has meticulously compiled the information from his research into various headings and sub-heading, groups and sub-groups. The book gave accounts of various WI series, at home and abroad. Who was the first WI batsman to score a century; who was the first bowler to take a fiver in a Test inning. How many times the WI whitewashed their opponents in a Test series, and who they were?
The where’s and how’s about the formation of the WICB; the first international countries hosted, and those toured by the WI. Complete with each game’s statistics. The record of the initial performances of the early WI players up to 2013. A short biography of famous WI players is also provided, showing their development. Complete with their performance statistics. Pictures of dominating WI players: Rohan Kanhai, Garfield Sobers, Andy Roberts, etc. in their hey-days. Facts and feats of WI cricket are presented in such a way that a student of WI cricket will find the book fascinating. This book would add power to the readers’ discussions on WI cricket. A must have for the fanatic WI cricket fan. Even supporters of other cricketing nations will find cricket facts about their countries.
In addition to reports and statistics on actual performances the book presents a lighter side: cricket jokes and funnies. There are six pages of “quips and small talk” that would bring a smile, even laughter, to the fan. For example, WI vs. Australia 1973 – when Uton Dowe took 1/168, the Jamaican crowd invented the eleventh commandment “Dowe shall not bowl”. Again, Rest of the World vs. Australia, Perth 1971-72. Lillee was bowling so fast, the World players were showing signs of panic in the dressing room. Sobers to his teammates “doesn’t anyone ask to go down the order because that’s where I am going, I am an old man.”
If ever you find yourself wanting to test your cricket knowledge and there is no one with you to interact with, this new book is for you. It has pages of self quizzes. The answers are presented on later pages. So you can actually have a “self-discussion” and then check to see whether you “presented” legitimate facts.
How authentic is this book? Just ask former WI off-spinner, Lance Gibbs. So impressed was Mr. Gibbs with the contents of the book that he penned the Foreword. This is what Lance has to say (in part). “Not many books have been written on the history of West Indies cricket and the few that did, don’t have the up-to-date statistical sections, and for that reason does not fully satisfy the curiosity of the avid cricket lover who want to know more about West Indies cricket and its players. In this pioneering “reference book”, Mr. Sambhudat has drawn all the strands together to produce descriptive and statistical sections, which, in my opinion has made this book a must for all those interested in WI cricket.”
According to Lance Gibbs’ Foreword, the book covers WI cricket records from WI first-ever Test match vs. England, in England, from June 1928 to WI last series vs. New Zealand in NZ, December 2013. Lance has a personal library of cricket books. He said that on the day he met Mr. Sambhudat, he (Lance) brought out one of his books on WI cricket (75 years of WI Cricket, 1928 to 2003). While going through this present book, the former great WI off-spinner admitted that he had to close his book and put it back on the shelf, for two major reasons. 1. His book was outdated and 2. The information Mr. Sambhudat’s book has on WI cricket statistics, “mine is nowhere compare to his and the most important factor is his book has all up-to-date information on WI cricket.”
I, myself (this writer) pride myself on being a student on WI cricket. I have found this book to be fascinating and its facts mind-boggling. Imagine, someone cramming the cricket information in his head and then engaging in a discussion on WI cricket. What an impression that someone would make?
About the author: He is a Guyanese who came from a small (and the last) village (Crabwood Creek) on the Corentyne Coast, in Berbice, Guyana. This is what he said, in part: “As far as I can recall, cricket is the only game I got myself involved in from the 60s and onwards. My friends, I am not a Rohan Kanhai or a Shivnarine Chanderpaul, but before I ventured, I did my research the best I could, simply because I wanted this book to be correct and the best it could be…..”
To order this book you may call the author, Ramnarine Sambhudat (Shako) at 863- 852- 8678 or 407-218-0867. You may also place your order at Sambhudat.com. While on this web site you can peruse the pages and pages of information in the book. Cost: $29.95 plus $5.00 shipping (US).
It is said that books are the storehouse of knowledge. Get this book and you, cricket fans, would own your personal storehouse of West Indies cricket facts and feats.