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Old records will indicate that although the Bahamas Cricket Association (BCA) was established somewhere around the late 1920s or early 1930s, the sport was being played in The Bahamas from in the 1850s. The bulk of cricket activity was in New Providence but the game was prominent also in some of the Family Islands, particularly Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Inagua.
Gary Campbell has done a lot of research and is desirous of a forum to bring much of the game’s exciting history to light. He was always a historian of sorts. Campbell informed that as a young cricket player, he began compiling newspaper clippings mostly about his very own exploits and then he got seriously into the act.
It’s a time-consuming process but Campbell believes if more people understand the “true history” of cricket, the game will reclaim the popularity of yesteryear.
“I’m fascinated with the game of cricket. I have played it and loved the game for a long time. I have enjoyed my years playing. I feel proud of what I have accomplished as a young player and afterwards, in batting and bowling and particularly in representing my country, but in my mind, there is so much more to cricket than individual accomplishments.
“Cricket was a strong point for our society back in the day. Cricket cemented the family. As a boy, I noticed that many families came out to watch cricket. It kept people together and the game connected different families. Socially, our country was much better then. Everybody knew each other directly or through families related to players. The family spirit was a big part of the legacy of cricket.
“Those of us involved with cricket have an obligation to work toward building the game again and getting it back to where it was. If we can do that we will have a much better country,” said Campbell, as we talked recently about the noble game.
He is intent upon making his contribution to a resurgence of the quality aspect of cricket through compiling historic data to educate generations of Bahamians about the sport. Campbell’s strong cricket background includes youth play from the age of nine.
At 14, he was playing for Beck’s Brewers and began developing a solid reputation for bowling and batting. Campbell recalls a missed opportunity that today, perhaps is one of the big motivating factors for him in his drive to help bring cricket back into the spotlight.
“It was during the late 1980s. The Somerset Cricket Club came in and played here. I found out later that the Somerset group was impressed enough with three Bahamians to extend an invitation to the association to have us travel to England to play at the secondary level. We were not informed of the situation. I was just 18 at the time and when I found out, I was very disappointed,” said Campbell.
Wycliff Atkinson and Andy Ford were the other two young Bahamians who were selected by Somerset. Campbell says there are lots of players with similar raw talent who can be nurtured. He is of the view that there should be a concentration by the BCA on United Kingdom cricket scholarships. It was quite refreshing to chat with Campbell and recognize the deep interest he has in boosting his sport.
I applaud his dedication. Hopefully he will get an appreciable amount of support for his cricket research/compilation project.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)