What if Romain Etwaroo had remained in Georgetown?
May 24, 2013 By admin
His triple century remained unchallenged after forty yearsâ€¦
Forty seven years ago, to this day the question keeps popping up: â€œWhat if Romain Etwaroo had remained in Georgetown?â€ It is tempting to speculate as to what might have been the future of Etwaroo had he descended the pavilion steps to face the Barbados attack, instead of Roy Fredericks. Would he have gone on to play Test cricket as some of his colleagues did? What were his feelings about getting so close to greatness and having it snatched away? There are more questions than answers, leaving many fans wondering what might have been.
A few years ago, The Indo-Caribbean Federation (ICF) honoured Romain Etwaroo, former Berbice captain and Guyana opening batsman at their 18th Annual Cricket Match, Trinidad vs. Guyana on Sat, Sept 15, 2007 at Bronx Whitestone Park, New York. According to the Federationâ€™s secretary Ralph Tamesh, it was a way of showing appreciation to someone who made a tangible contribution in sports over the years. The Port Mourant-born Romain Etwaroo, a household name in Berbice and Guyana cricket, left an indelible mark for youngsters to emulate.
The Federation also presented a plaque to Sew Etwaroo, the unlikeliest of marathon runners. Coming from Port Mourant, home of a great number of our outstanding sportsmen, he was just a teenager, 18-year-old when he broke the marathon record in the new time of two hours, 51 mins, 21 secs beating the mark of 3 hrs, 1 secs set by Clem Fields earlier in the 1956 event. It was unprecedented, in that it was the first time that two such events were staged in one year.
In July 1958, Sew Etwaroo was selected to represent then British Guiana in the Sixth British Empire and Commonwealth games at Cardiff, Wales.
Romain Etwaroo came into prominence in the early 1960s with a brilliant century for Berbice High School (BHS) against arch-rivals Berbice Educational Institute (BEI) in the Firestone Cup â€“ symbol of secondary schools cricket supremacy in Berbice â€“ and from then on, there was no looking back. He had been very consistent over the years he had engaged in the sunshine game, and holds the record for scoring a century in almost all the competitions he took part in. Romain Etwaroo was considered to be the most neatly dressed player; always in immaculate white, and wears a white handkerchief around his neck, which epitomizes his legendary uncle, Rohan Kanhai. Around the mid-1960s, Guyana and West Indiesâ€™ officials were planning to elevate and expand youth cricket around the Caribbean. The move gave youth cricket a tremendous boost. Just before this had happened, the late Mr. Rex Ramnarace (former Port Mourant captain, cricket commentator, Berbice and Guyana selector) and yours truly who was then sportswriter for the Berbice Times organised the first-ever Berbice Secondary Schools boysâ€™ cricket tournament between Berbice and Demerara at the YMCA ground, Georgetown.
Romain Etwaroo was a member of that team, which was skippered by Patrick â€œSportyâ€ Liverpool and included other schoolboys, Isardat Ramdehal, Anan Sookram, Dowlat Ramgahan, Ricky Bovell, Tyrone Ramnarace, Jairam Bickharry, Leon Smith, Stanley Moore, the Thompson brothers â€“ Lavan and Adolph, the Joseph brothers â€“ Scott and Alex, and the late Ayube Mohamed and Jubraj Sewsankar. The boys acquitted themselves admirably, particularly Romain Etwaroo whose brilliant knock of 82 was the talk of the town. A couple of years later, this kind of organised cricket were to become the focus of youth cricket in Guyana and the Caribbean.
After a successful â€œapprenticeâ€ with the youth club, Romain became a prominent member of the Port Mourant team and proved his worth with a number of outstanding performances. Romain Etwaroo celebrated his 21st birthday with his debut for Berbice against Demerara in the 1966 inter-county Jones Cup final at Bourda. A year later in 1967 Etwaroo caught the eyes of the selectors and was invited to the national trials in preparation for the regional Shell Shield cricket tournament. He did exceedingly well, amassing over three hundred runs, and by virtue of his outstanding performance was a strong contender for the opening spot, but destiny willed otherwise!
It sometimes pains me to have to explain at great length to those who should know better the fate of Romain Etwaroo. Nobody seems to remember that he was the one selected to open the batting with Joe Solomon, another great batsman from Port Mourant, after Steve Camacho had declared himself unfit for the game against Barbados; but he nearly kept that day with destiny, because he had to return to Berbice to the job he had at the time. When the selectors could not find Etwaroo, they obviously turned to Roy Fredericks who was fortunately in the city. It was not only a blessing in disguise for Fredericks, but an opportunity which he grasped with both hands and a broad bat, scoring a century in each innings against the mighty Barbados attack. This was to herald an illustrious career for Fredericks, and the rest is all too well known to bear repeating. It is tempting to speculate as to what might have been the future of Etwaroo had he descended the pavilion steps to face the Bajansâ€™ attack, instead of Roy Fredericks. By the way, has anyone thought of interviewing Romain Etwaroo about the feeling of getting so close to greatness and having the cup of glory snatched away so rudely from him?
Etwaroo had to wait a further seven years before the opportunity once more presented itself for him to play for Guyana. And what a debut! He scored an exuberant 118 against Barbados, and how ironical, against the team he missed playing against in the first instance. It would be interesting to note that five of those years were spent in the United States of America, where Romain majored in Biology, and where he hardly played any cricket. As a matter of fact, during that time, cricket in the United States was hardly heard of, much less played, as it is now.
(to be continued next week)