Mr E.B John asked, “Which team did Basil Butcher represent” (May 2) locally. Butcher was an outstanding cricketer. I do not know all the clubs he represented but I do remember he was enamored by Port Mourant dwellers be was born and played cricket there. My conversations with Port Mourant elders revealed the following: Butcher, like Rohan Kanhai (two years younger) and Joe Solomon (three years older than him), played for Port Mourant, but he also would have played for a team in Georgetown (where he initially moved) and in then McKenzie (where he finally settled) during the 1960s and early 1970s before his retirement from first class matches. He also played county cricket (UK).
Butcher was born in Port Mourant in 1933. He lived in Port Mourant near the community center (behind what was Roop Mahal cinema). He played for Port Mourant cricket club (at the estate center ground) and played at several cricket grounds (ball fields) in the Port Mourant area and beyond.
Among the grounds he played in Port Mourant were: Indentured ground behind Dr. Jagan’s family home that was prepared with voluntary labor’; Ankerville ground behind the hospital; Tain ground behind the primary school; and Babu Jahan cricket ground on the left side of the dam on the way to then Hindu and Muslim cemeteries (to which was recently added a Christian cemetery). Two NGO training centers now occupy the cricket ground area in Babu Jahan and the indentured cricket ground behind Jagan’s home was converted into a housing project. Butcher, as did Kanhai, also played at a cricket ground right behind the Port Mourant primary school, just before the old indentured cemetery no longer in use, and that was very close to the old sugar estate. The school’s cricket ground was in use up until the 1980s. The Anglican cemetery encroached the ground since the 1980s and cricket is no longer played there. There has been no efforts to rehabilitate the ground.
Butcher also played at Albion Estate, Bloomfield, Whim, and Rose Hall cricket grounds, among others. He also played Shell Shield at Skeldon Estate ground.
Butcher moved out of Port Mourant early 1960s and would have joined clubs in his new dwellings (McKenzie and elsewhere). There was racial tension in Port Mourant and throughout Guyana during the early 1960s. Butcher was of Mixed descent and among only six non-Indian families in Port Mourant. With racial tension rife, Butcher and his family decided to leave the area as did the rest of the handful of Africans who lived peacefully among Indians in Port Mourant. Butcher stopped playing for Port Mourant in the 1960s. He would have played for McKenzie where he settled and perhaps for other teams wherever he lived. Port Mourant was dismayed when he left. He appeared from time to time in friendly and benefit matches with Kanhai, Joe Solomon, and Alvin Kalicharran, and other Port Mourant cricket icons (like Randolph Ramnarace, Burlin Shaheed, the Etwaroo brothers, Beasmonie brothers, Tambu, among others) at the center ground.
On a side note: Attending English (St. Joseph Anglican) Primary school, teachers and students used to tune in to radio commentary whenever Guyana and West Indies were playing cricket. We cheered Butcher’s performance as we did also for Solomon, Kanhai, Kalicharran, Romain Etwaroo, and other cricket icons from Port Mourant. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the retired cricketer several times in New York City and we talked a lot of cricket Guyanese potentials as well as the performance of Shiv Chanderpaul.