Who Should Skipper B.G.?

Date Published: 
Daily Argosy
Claude Chichester

Claims of Camacho, Gaskin, and Christiani Reviewed

With the conclusion of the Inter-County tourney, and the Jamaica visit less than a month off, one of the questions expected to be answered shortly is "Who will be the captain of the British Guiana side?" A few observations are necessary before dealing with the rival claims of George Camacho, Berkeley Gaskin and Robert Christiani for this all-Important post.

Since the war, we have seen Stollmeyer appearing as captain of Trinidad whenever he was available, while, in Barbados, there is a similar case with regard to Goddard, who succeeded Pierce. The absence of Headley (then skipper) and Rae (the present captain) caused Jamaica to experiment, but, all in all there was a decided semblance of permanency regarding the appointments in these Colonies.

What of British Guiana? A most distressing point over this period is that we have all too rarely been able to predict our captain. As far as can be remembered, we tried six players - Bayley, Outridge, Christiani, Wishart, Gaskin, Wishart (again), Bayley (again), Camacho and Gaskin (again) - in a truly amazing "in-and-out" fashion.

It is worth more than a passing thought to consider whether this shifty, unstable state of affairs has had anything to do with our disgraces on the cricket field over the period under discussion.

It is not intended to query the ability of any of these players, for the Selection Committees concerned have done enough of this - dropping a captain after the first of two games, stating that another is "sick" on some other occasion, and, by the most subtle way of all, announcing a different captain to the one of the previous tour. It is obvious that such a state of affairs is, to say the least, highly undesirable: perhaps we were justly repaid for the makeshift moves of our goodly selectors.

That said, let us turn our attention to George Camacho. Time and again did this player fail, and palpably so, on the big occasion: time and again was he determined to show that his temperament was only good enough for Case Cup games. But just as determined were our selectors.

Perseverance finally brought its reward when, during the last tour of Trinidad, Camacho for the first time achieved a successful tour. Could we not have reasonably expected a similar performance from, say, C. Haynes (T. & H.D.) had he been as blindly persisted with?

Nonetheless, Camacho kept in and out of the British Guiana side under the varied guise of "our only other opening bowler, a good fieldsman and a "fine" batsman - a truly fine all-rounder". It should ever be felt that one of the biggest insults to our cricket - impoverished as it is - was his being entrusted with the new ball, for, in this respect, he never looked better than a Saturday afternoon player.

Of his batting, so excellent in Club games, it must be stated that Camacho gave us a typical portrayal during the Inter-County series — he is easily unnerved and, as such, is not able to play the fighting cricket needed in a tense situation.

As far as the captaincy is concerned then, let us not again be forced to drop a captain after the first game. Another point - Camacho is decidedly inferior in experience and in ability to the two other players under discussion. No, Camacho will not do.

Mixed feelings must necessarily exist whenever we consider the claims of Gaskin — one of our two most capable players during the period under discussion. A son of misfortune, many feel that Gaskin should have been our captain all this time: with West Indian selectors we saw luck against him when he was excluded, definitely not on account of ability, but on a ground for which he was plainly not at fault — that he was born in British Guiana.

But, that said, Gaskin should not be appointed captain if we look at permanency. A deep conviction within me is that this well-worn player intends to retire from big cricket at any moment now. We know he has some cricket left in him, and there is no doubt that his services will be missed.

But he would have done the correct thing, for it is much better for the crowd to ask, as they did of Bradman, "why did he retire," than for them to earnestly query, as in the case of Joe Louis, "why doesn't he retire?" Again, as captain, Gaskin (a medium pacer) will be expected to bear the brunt of our attack: can we reasonably ask turn to do both these jobs now?

Quite a few accusations have been leveled at the third candidate, Robert Christiani. Many say that the burdens of captaincy will restrict his run-making ability. I do not agree with this, nor do I with those who find fault with his field-placings.

The truth is that Robert has recently been employing the aggressive field used by Ramadhin and Valentine whereby there is rarely anyone to cover up another fieldsman. Christiani showed fully well that he can set a defensive field when, during the last game, we saw Baijnauth "on the kill".

Christiani's experience in Test matches all over the world and his ability on the cricket field should give him the captaincy for the Jamaica visit - and this should be so for years to come.