By John L. Aaron
Barbados and Cricket West Indies fast bowling legend Charlie Griffith who paired up with fellow Barbadian and Cricket West Indies speedster Sir Wesley Hall in the 60s, was recently bestowed Honorary Life Membership of Atlantis Cricket Club – NY. Now titled Sir Charles Christopher Griffith, the St. Lucy, Barbados born fast-bowler addressed guests at Atlantis’ 52nd annual gala awards dinner at Glen Terrace in Brooklyn, New York.

The sixteenth former West Indian Test player to be so honored by the New York based club, Sir Charles’ core message to those in attendance at the dinner was aimed at the younger cricketers. He encouraged them to embrace life, and the love and advice of their elders, while working hard, noting, “Success is built on hard work, discipline, dedication, devotion to duty, honesty, integrity, teamwork, and the conscientious and unrelenting pursuit of excellence.”

The Knight of the Order of St. Andrew, Sir Charles Griffith enjoys legendary status among many of the elite former Test cricketers from the island of Barbados. One year before Charlie Griffith was born at Pie Corner, in St. Lucy, another Barbadian baby was born on September 12 in the Parish of St. Michael, some twelve miles away. The pair would later become one of the most feared fast bowling duos in Test cricket. Like Walsh and Ambrose, Marshall and Garner, and Holding and Roberts, the names Hall and Griffith were synonymous with fast bowling and Cricket West Indies. The 1964 Wisden Cricketer of the Year, Charlie Griffith played 28 Tests and 96 First-class matches, capturing a combined total of 426 scalps along the way. However, it was between 1960 and 1969 that Charlie Griffith seared his way into the memories and soft tissue areas of opposing batsmen. One cannot mention the ferocious bowling of the 6’ 3” Charlie Griffith without mentioning Indian Test cricketer Nari Contractor who dared to face the gentle, fast, and fearless Barbadian phenom. The encounter was not a pleasant one for the then Indian captain, as Contractor was on the receiving end of a vicious delivery and a very serious head injury. It is not surprising that during his Test career, Charlie Griffith did not escape controversy; as some questioned his bowling action as suspect.

However, an equal number of pundits and those with a discerning eye dismissed any such claims. The criticism of some in the media and the Australian and English teams at the time, may have had an effect on the ferocious nature of Charlie Griffith’s bowling, nonetheless he still struck fear into the hearts of batsmen awaiting his lengthy run up to delivery. The giant fast bowler has a heart of gold and was very remorseful over the Nari Contractor incident, although later breaking the nose of another Indian batsman Vijay Manjrekar, who allegedly ducked into a Charlie Griffith delivery. Despite the opposition to Charlie Griffith’s bowling attack and his belief that it was a plot to get rid of him, he wrote in his 1970 memoir that the world of cricket was still good to him, adding, “It afforded me an opportunity to achieve reasonable economic stability and, at the same time, improved the lot of my parents and family.”

Sir Charles’ address to the dinner guests took him down memory lane, as he reminisced about his cricketing career as well as his personal growth and development as a businessman and confident individual. He opined that the West Indian cricketer was a multi-dimensional character, and noting that his own life story extended beyond the boundary of the cricket field, crediting his parents and siblings, and his upbringing in a Christian, well-disciplined home, where he learned the moral values of worship, respect and consideration for others, adding, “The elders, mothers and other loving and caring members of my village and the nearby communities helped shape my character and had a positive influence on my personal and professional development. The principal and teachers of St. Clement’s Primary School were also influential in my life and treated me with love and respect, which I returned in equal measure. They also stimulated my interest in the great game of cricket which has profoundly and positively influenced my life.”

Following his early success as a teenage player in the Barbados Cricket League, Sir Charlie Griffith participated in trial matches at the famed Kensington Oval in 1959 representing the Barbados Colts and making his debut for the national side the same year. He represented Barbados against the visiting MCC team during that club’s 1959-60 Caribbean tour, and in that match the 6’ 3” Sir Charles captured the wickets of five of the finest English batsmen at the time – Colin Cowdrey, Mike Smith, Peter May, Ted Dexter and Ken Barrington, “…in quick succession, after I introduced them to my bouncers and yorkers.”

Sir Charles Griffith however, did not have a chance to bowl against the English quintet until the final Test match against England in Trinidad on March 25, 1960, where he paired up with his future roommate and now friend of almost six decades, bowling partner Sir Wes Hall. That was the legend’s first Test match and at age 20, it was surprisingly, only his second First-class match. He recalls wondering what on earth he had gotten himself into, when then Honorary Secretary of the Barbados Cricket Association arrived at his home and asked if he was ready, to which the broadly shouldered young man replied, “Yes!” He however, believes that experience of being thrown into the deep end, helped him deal with adversity and overcoming obstacles later in his life; making him a stronger person along the way. Sir Charles played his last Test match against New Zealand on March 13, 1969 at Christchurch, New Zealand.

The cricketer turned businessman, Charlie Griffith recalled his selection in the 1963 West Indies team to tour England and the start of a great partnership alongside Wes Hall for the next six years and 28 Test matches. He recounted one of his best memories as, “Sir Wes and I played as partners in that great team which propelled the West Indies to world cricket supremacy under the astute captaincy and leadership of two of our greatest cricketers and mentors – Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Garfield Sobers.”

The former right-arm spinner turned fast bowler said he often argued with partner Wes Hall, as to who was the better batsman, jokingly recalling, “Sir Wes argues that he was the senior batting partner and that it is only in the dictionary that the letter “G” comes before the letter “H.” I contend that to this day that I was the better batsman and I reference cricinfo.com which can confirm that my Test batting average exceeds his inferior performance.”

Off the field of cricket Sir Charles Griffith has served in numerous capacities with the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) for 28 years and on the West Indies Cricket Board, as the Barbados representative and chairman of Selectors for the Barbados Senior and Junior teams. For his service he received honorary awards as Life Member and Life Vice President of the BCA. Following his departure from Test cricket in 1969, Sir Charles Griffith served as Sports Officer, cricket coach, and mentor to many young primary and secondary school cricketers at the National Sports Council of Barbados.

Sir Charles noted that his most challenging assignment beyond the cricket boundary was his recruitment in 1973 by the Barbados Lumber Company to be its assistant manager, Marketing & Sales, and later as manager of the department. He credits the discipline of his cricketing background as the foundation of his success at the Barbados Lumber Company. He currently serves as a consultant to the company, following his retirement. His success at the Barbados Lumber Company led to him being nominated by the Government of Barbados in 2017 for Appointment to the Order of Barbados, in recognition of, “outstanding contribution to the area of sport, with special reference to cricket, entrepreneurship, leadership and business development.” He is also a 1992 recipient of the Barbados Silver Crown of Merit. Sir Charles Griffith joined an elite group of fellow Barbadian Test Cricket Knights – Sir Conrad Hunte, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Garfield Sobers, and Sir Everton Weekes.

In closing his address to the assembled dinner guests, Sir Charlie Griffith said he hoped he had, “…demonstrated that cricket has the characteristics to prepare (younger players) for personal and professional development within and beyond the boundary.”

The 52nd annual Atlantis awards presentation dinner also saw the club bestowing Honorary Life Membership on The Reverend Eddie Alleyne, Rector of the historic Church of the Advent in Westbury, New York. Rev. Alleyne has served as a spiritual mentor of Atlantis Cricket Club – NY while Rector of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, NY

The Atlantis Cricket Club – NY player performance awards for 2018 were, as follows:

Most Valuable Player
Alex Amsterdam

Most Promising Player Award
Tamesh Persaud

Highest Batting Aggregate 40-overs
Alex Amsterdam – 415 Runs

Best Batting Average 40-overs
Alex Amsterdam – 78.33 Runs per inning

Highest Score in a Single Match 40-overs
Francis Mendonca – 209 not out

Most Wickets 40-overs
Kevin Darlington – 10 Wickets

Best Bowling Average 40-overs
Dillion Bourne – 11.1 Runs per wicket

Best Bowling Performance in a Single Match 40-overs
Dillion Bourne 5-0-15-7

Five or more Wickets in a Single Match 40-overs
Dillion Bourne 8-0-31-5 and 6-1-26-6

Most Economical Bowling Performance 40-overs
Dillon Bourne 8-2-15-4

Most Catches for the Season 40-overs
Donwell Hector, 4; Randall Wilson, 4; Francis Mendonca, 4;
Akim Fraser, 4; Garfield DeRoche, 4

2017 Centurion’s Club 40-overs
Francis Mendonca – 209 not out
Alex Amsterdam -108 and 105
Randall Wilson – 126

Highest Batting Aggregate T20
Francis Mendonca – 161 Runs

Best Batting Average T20
Francis Mendonca – 53.6 Runs per inning

Most Wickets T20
Garfield DeRoche – 5 Wickets

Best Bowling Performance in a Single Match T20
Greg Robinson 4-0-8-35

Most Disciplined Player Award
Dillion Bourne

Spirit of Cricket Award
Dillion Bourne

Originally Reported on USA Cricketers

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