Legacy of Sir Garfield’s tourney
A series of events that followed the General Election of 1986 and resulted in the twinning of the portfolios of the ministries of sport and tourism under the then Reverend Dr Wesley Hall, now Sir Wesley Hall, formed the backdrop for the beginnings of the Sir Garfield Sobers International Schools Cricket Tournament.
And according to Morris Greenidge, former sports officer of the Barbados Tourism Authority and chairman of the tournament since 1996, “that 1986 ministerial realignment produced immediate returns positive both to sports and tourism, epitomised by benefits which have been scattered far beyond the shores of our little island”.
Greenidge was on Tuesday evening, delivering the eighth in the series of lectures sponsored by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society under the theme Fire In Babylon: Cricket As Popular Culture, at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.
In the lecture entitled The Evolution And Impact Of The Sir Garfield Sobers Cricket Tournament, Greenidge, a founder member of Maple Club in St James, was unequivocal in pronouncing that the tournament “has been a tremendous success story both in sports and in tourism”.
The wide-ranging discourse traced the history of the tournament from its inauguration under the guidance of Tony Arthur, then a senior manager of the Board of Tourism. The involvement of Don Gooding, a Barbadian tour operator living in England, whose idea it was to attach the name of Sir Garfield, represented a major pillar of the tournament’s sustained success.
Former West Indies captain and renowned master batsman Brian Lara, who represented Fatima College of Trinidad and Tobago, heads a long list of illustrious personalities who participated over the 30 years of the competition, which has attracted school teams from Britain, India, South Africa, Australia, Europe, Canada and a number of Caribbean islands since 1987.
England captain Alistair Cook, Kemar Roach, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Kraigg Brathwaite and Jofra Archer number among those to have distinguished themselves on the cricket field.
Serving the game
The likes of NATION Sports Editor Haydn Gill, Adriel “Woody” Richard, Gary Belle and Leslie Reifer Jr. are some “members of the alumni” who served the game in other areas.
Greenidge related a story of how “in 1987, Sir Gary was summoned from his home to see this little stripling who possessed all the shots but who was not strong enough to score in front of the wicket”.
“By the second year when he returned, the young man had added pounds and strength to his frame and anybody who knew the slightest bit about cricket, knew then that Brian Charles Lara was destined for future greatness,” Greenidge said.
In summation, he reflected the impact the tournament has had on West Indies cricket “was not even a consideration when it was conceptualised. West Indies cricket has reaped major benefits, from Brian Lara, Roland Holder and Hendy Bryan in the first tournament, to the current series, which will be laying the foundation for future players”.
He pledged the full commitment of the organisers to the continuation of the effort to “provide a safe, fair and imaginative space for current and future schoolboys to enjoy, regardless of their levels of natural talent”.
“It is committed to provide the same foundation and limitless opportunity to those of a higher than average talent and those with a desire to make cricket their way of life. Accolades to Sir Gary, to Tony Arthur and to Don Gooding, who have produced a beautiful cricket wicket. It is now up to us in the cricket fraternity and guardians at the gate and the generations to come to maintain it and to improve upon it,” Greenidge said.
To conclude, Greenidge treated the audience to a moving, poetic expression of his own hope for the future of the tournament.
“Yes we dream. We dream the auguries will once again align the stars. Soon in their sweet confluence. We dream. Yet we dream.”
MORRIS GREENIDGE explaining the benefits of the Sir Garfield Sobers Cricket Tournament after the sports-tourism merger. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe)