Sports

A Tribute To George Alfred

By Oliver F. Scott

ON Friday, December 1, 2017, the cricket community in Saint Lucia, and moreover in the Windward Islands, was plunged into immense sadness with the news of the sudden death of this former national and Windward Island left hand cricket opening batsman.

At the time of his passing, George Patrick Alfred, better known as “Mellow”, was 73 years of age. He was an employee of Home Depot, a reputable business house in Castries.

Alfred’s birth in domestic cricket was initiated in the early to mid-sixties with his selection on the second division club cricket team of CYO; he performed with some notable distinction in the national one innings match competition which was usually played at the Marchand Ground at the time.

He graduated eventually to become a permanent member of the regular first division team of the CYO sports club. His tenure at this club nurtured critical sporting relationships with such club colleagues as Hollis Bristol, Archie Raymond, Sudar Auguste, Andrew “Caribe”, the late Albert Nathaniel, the late Michael Hunte and the late Benton George.

In his youth, he displayed an amazing passion for the sport of cricket by his individual leadership in the popular promotion of the very popular “soft ball” cricket competitions at Lord’s and the Oval at the Marchand Playing field. It was at such competions that our most popular cricketing personalities such as Francis Mindoo Phillip, Rupert Branford, the late Rupert Polius, the late Earl Cenac, Raymond Dupres, Bryan Mauricette and Hileran Phillip, Eldrige Poyotte and others gathered each Sunday.

During such a period, he contributed immensely to the continuing growth of the life of the CYO sports club in the community of Castries. His continuity as a senior and veteran member of the club’s cricket team contributed immense assistance to the club.

Domestic Cricket Career
During most of his life, George Alfred served as a very active member of CYO cricket team. His invidual and inspiring batting performances and sometimes crucial bowling performances did play a useful part in the team maintaining its role as one of the top teams in the local inter-club cricket competitions.

His useful contributions from the bat frequently excelled his selection as a left-hand opening batsman on the national cricket team during the sixties. His senior debut for St. Lucia was made in 1967 when he first represented Saint Lucia in the Annual Geest Windward Island Cricket Championship and continued until 1983. During this domestic stage of his career, he was party to some memorable achievements in local cricket. He was associated with Martial Francis, who was selected on the West Indies Youth Cricket Team that toured England in 1970.

Alfred was very involved in the formation of the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association, which upgraded the organization of inter-district cricket to authoritative national cricket; it also hosted in Saint Lucia in 1973, the West Indies Youth Cricket Tournament sponsored by Neil and Massy W.I. Ltd. Alfred’s experience and attachment to the business sector in the state was extremely relied on when the S.L.N.C.A. organized its introduction of the Instant Money Cricket Game on behalf of the Windward Island Cricket Board of Control in Saint Lucia

Windwards First Class Cricket Career
Alfred’s constant and excellent performances in local cricket logically resulted in his frequent selection on the senior national cricket team in the late sixties, seventies, and eighties. Together with his regular opening partner, Earl Cenac of the Shamrock Sports Club, Hollis Bristol of CYO, or Julian Hunte of the Notre Dame Cricket Club, they fitted this role quite satisfactorily.

Together with Francis “Mindoo” Phillip, Rupert Polius, and Bryan Mauricette, Vincent “Dow” Jouet, Rupert Branford, Michael “Shaddy” Hippolyte, Egbert Sealy, Frederick Thorpe, Earle Fraities and Colin Quintyne, Ignatius Cadet and Julien Charles comprised the usual and devoted early batting line-up for the national cricket team during Alfred’s early cricket career. The following persons, such as Winston Mauricette, Rupert Branford, Steve Ambroise, Sylvester Felix, Eldrige Poyotte, Victor Reyes, Martial Francis, Hubert Annibaffa, Mr. Francis Mindoo Phillip were among that ilk.

Having been selected in the Saint Lucian national cricket squad for the Annual Windward Island Cricket tournaments, Alfred opened the batting for his entire career with a variety of talented players. In his third match, he batted after the fall of the first wicket in the Saint Lucia’s opening match versus Grenada and in the second innings he did not bat as the match was rained out.

After building a few century-opening partnerships with Bristol, Hippolyte and Cenac, Alfred was described in the local and regional press as having the correct pedigree as an opening batsman. He went on to score a few half centuries for the Saint Lucian cricket team, especially in 1969, to help his Saint Lucian cricket team to their first and only victory of the annual Windward Island Cricket Championship. The following year, Alfred was selected on the Windward Island Cricket squad to compete in the next annual Shell Shield Cricket Tournament organized by the West Indies Cricket Board of Control.

Combined Islands First Class Cricket Career
The Combined Islands cricket team was a cricket team that represented the cricket-playing islands of the Lesser Antilles. They played in some Shell Shield tournaments from 1965-66 to 1980-81, when they won their first title and were subsequently disbanded into Leeward Islands and Windward Islands. Those two teams had first-class status before 1980-81, but competed separately in subsequent Shell Shield tournaments as special participants and Harrison Line Limited Overs championship as full participants.

Alfred’s immense talent as a left-hand opening batsman was finally rewarded with his inclusion in the Windward Islands cricket team, which played the touring Indian Test Cricket team in Dominica in 1982. His only other achievement, at this level, was the retention of his services very early in his cricketing career, as the emergency fieldsman for the Combined Islands Cricket Team in their match versus Trinidad and Tobago at the Mindoo Phillip Park, Castries, Saint Lucia in 1966.

It was a fitting tribute to George Alfred as a combined island cricketer to be associated with such Caribbean cricketing stalwarts as Mike Findlay, Grayson Shillingford, Irvine Shillingford, Lockhart Sebastien, Norbert Phillip and Ignatius Cadet from the Windward Islands, and Leonard Harris, Jim Allen, Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Alford Coriette, Derrick Parry, Levy Sergeant, Vance Amory, Victor Edddy, and Enoch Lewis, from the Leeward Islands.

During his career, Alfred’s cricketing talent was on spectators’ display at the various cricket grounds in the Lesser Antilles.
Arnos Vale Ground in Arnos Vale, Kingstown, St Vincent
The Arnos Vale Ground first hosted a Test in 1997.
The old ground of Queen’s Park in St. George’s, Grenada
Mindoo Phillip Park, Marchand, Castries
Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre, in St. Kitts- Nevis

Period of Mixed Fortunes Within His First Class Cricket Career
Alfred made a useful and promising start to his career in first class cricket in the late sixties. He proceeded to build on this promising start during the seventies with some excellent performances as an opening batsman for Saint Lucia. Such quality performances subsided during the eighties, which led to much difficulty in this gentleman retaining his regular selection on the Saint Lucia and the Windward Islands cricket team.

Fall From Grace Within His First Class Career
From the start of the nineties, Alfred displayed various signs of the effects of aging on his career. The enhancement of his local mercantile career seemed to have his priority at the moment, and greatly reduced his time for working on his cricket and his personal physical fitness. This seriously affected his availability for his local club, CYO, and his selection on national cricket teams.

Period of Ascendancy To Management Roles Within National Cricket Class Structure
As his engagement in national selection rescinded, his career as a national cricketer ended, but his services were retained as a senior national selector and later as a senior team manager. He was appointed on several occasions to the Board of Management of the S.L.N.C.A.

CRICKET EVENTS: Moment and History
Domestic Cricket
▪ 1967: Debut selection on national cricket team
Windward Islands Regional Cricket
▪ 1968: Debut in Windward Islands Cricket Tournament
▪ 1969: Windward Islands Cricket Tournament
▪ 1969: Champions of Windwards Cricket
▪ 1973: Achieved the highest score of 73 in this tournament

West Indies Regional Cricket
▪ 1966: Combined Islands versus Trinidad & Tobago, Shell Shield Cricket Tournament, Victoria Park, Castries, Saint Lucia
▪ 1969: Combined Islands versus Jamaica, Shell Shield Cricket Tournament, Victoria Park, Castries, Saint Lucia
▪ 1972: New Zealand Touring Cricket Team versus West Indies President X1 Cricket Team, Mindoo Phillip Park, Castries, Saint Lucia
▪ 1973: West Indies Neal and Massy Youth Cricket Tournament, Victoria Park, Castries and Gros Islet Playing Field, Saint Lucia
▪ 1974: England Touring Cricket Team versus Windwards Cricket Team, Victoria Park, Castries, Saint Lucia
▪ 1977: Pakistan Touring Cricket Team versus West Indies President X1 Cricket Team, Mindoo Phillip Park, Castries, Saint Lucia
▪ 1981: Combined Islands Cricket Team wins Shell Shield Cricket Tournament
▪ 1982: Windward Islands Cricket Team was accredited full status as a participant in annual West Indies Shell Shield Cricket Tournament
▪ 1984: Debut Limited Overs Internationals: Australia Touring Cricket Team versus West Indies, Mindoo Phillip Park, Castries, Saint Lucia

Development of Island-wide Women’s Cricket
Alfred also made a significant contribution to the National Women’s Cricket Association in their pursuit to progressively develop their sport on an inter-club and island basis. He proceeded to be of valuable assistance to Kenneth Arthur, the island’s National Women’s Cricket Coach, to prepare the island’s team in the earlier stages of the annual West Indies Women’s Cricket Championship in which our national cricket team and certain individuals performed with immense satisfaction. Some of our players were selected on West Indies cricket teams.

The career of George Alfred as a major and fully commited cricketing enthusiast in this country is quite deserving of full recognition to inspire present and future cricket generation to undertake similar sporting achievements in the game and its administration.

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