Remembering Charlie Stayers
History This Week
By Winston McGowan
January 13, 2005
By far the most intensive and painstaking explorations of Guyana were those conducted by German Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk in the first half of the nineteenth century. He had previously explored around the Virgin Islands and in particular, the dangerous Anegada, a low-lying island surrounded by coral reefs and notorious for several shipwrecks.
After his survey of Anegada, Robert Schom-burgk submitted a map and description of the island to the Royal Geographical Society of London. His work created such an impression that following consultation between Mr. Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society and Mr. John Lindley, Professor of Botany at London University, it was decided in late 1834 that Schomburgk be commissioned to explore the interior of the then colony of British Guiana.
The mission was a two-fold one "of investigating thoroughly the physical and astronomical geography of that almost endless tract of country, and of connecting the line of positions which might be ascertained with those of Baron Alexander Von Humboldt on the Upper Orinoco". The British government was patron to the enterprise since it was desirous of fully developing "the natural resources of the magnificent colony of British Guiana."
Explorations between 1835 - 1839
Robert Schomburgk and his party departed George-town on the 21st September 1835 coasting low alluvial land to the entrance of the Essequibo River. His crew was made up of Lieutenant James Haining, Robert Brotherson and four Negro attendants. In addition, the crew of the canoes consisted of five Negroes, five Caribs, two Accawais and three Macusis. They proceeded up the Essequibo to the junction of the Mazaruni and Cuyuni and to Bartica. They then made a deliberate ascent of Essequibo on the 1st October until they reached the mouth of the Rupununi River. By this time Robert Schomburgk had collected about 1500 plant specimens.
Following the route used by Old Dutch traders, he continued up the Rupununi River and reached Annai. From there he proceeded further up the Rupununi river, visited Lake Amucu, climbed the highest ridge of the Parima mountains, visited the Indian village of Pirara and explored the whole area including the Kanuku Mountains and the intermediate savannahs. It was at Pirara that Schomburgk gathered valuable information on the indigenous plant "Wourali" or "Urali" from which poison was extracted. He renamed it "Strychnos Toxifera".
On December 28th, 1835 the party left the Rupununi and proceeded up the Essequibo to a large cataract which Schomburgk named King William IV Fall in honour of the British monarch and first patron of the Royal Geographical Society. Paths which connect the Essequibo with the Upper reaches of the Demerara River were closely examined. They returned to Bartica on the 18th March, 1836 and an unfortunate accident to one of the canoes in the vicinity of Itaballi Falls resulted in the loss of a large portion of the plant collection. Schomburgk and his men returned to Georgetown on March 28th, 1836 and were warmly welcomed by the then Governor, Sir James Carmichael Smyth.
After much needed rest Robert Schomburgk turned his attention to the Corentyne and Berbice rivers. He was interested in the resources and capabilities of the region of which he had little knowledge. The expedition comprising of Mr. Leith, an ornithologist, Mr Hernaut, a draftsman, volunteers Lieutenant Losack of the 69th Regiment, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Reiss and himself left Georgetown on 2nd September 1836 for Plantation Skeldon on the western bank of the Corentyne River.
At Skeldon the party experienced initial difficulty in recruiting Caribs. Eventually the expedition set off on September 19th 1836 with the ascent of the Corentyne River. Within two days the party reached Orealla, a settlement some forty miles up the river. It then passed Siparuta, Asirikani or Long Island, entered the Cabalaba River and arrived at Avenavero Falls. The continued ascent took them to Wonotobo on 18th October 1836. On their way they experienced a series of dangerous rapids which arrested their progress. Smith and Barrow cataracts were identified. Robert Schomburgk was forced to prematurely abandon his advances and return downstream. He arrived at New Amsterdam in early November, 1836 and decided to explore the Berbice river.
On November 25th, 1836 the crew, with the exception of Lieutenant Losack, began its ascent of the Berbice River. This time around the boat crew comprised of Arawaks, Warraus and Caribs. The expedition visited Dageraad, Fort Nassau and Wikki. It then passed several cataracts and observed varied flora and fauna life. On Christmas Day, 1836 they arrived at a falls which was named 'Christmas Falls'.
The expedition proceeded and on 1st January, 1837 Robert Schomburgk discovered the now world famous water lily which he named 'Victoria Regia' in honour of the then Queen of England. He himself described the water lily as "a gigantic leaf from five to six feet in diameter in the shape of a waiter's tray with an upper bright green and lower bright carmine-red margin rested upon the water; the luxuriant blossom completely corresponded with this wonderful leaf, they consisted of many hundredsof petals which merged from the purest white into various shades of rose and fresh colour" and "a lovely scent adds still more to its beauty."
On January 29th, 1837 the party reached the point where the path from the Corentyne to the Essequibo crossed the Berbice River. A land crossing was made to the Essequibo River by way of this Indian path. It was recrossed the following day and a return journey of the Berbice River commenced due to inadequate provisions and low water level. While descending the Christmas Cataract a canoe overturned and Mr. Reiss was unfortunately drowned. This was a tragic blow to Robert Schomburgk.
This expedition rested briefly at Peereboom, then travelled up the Wironi Creek and Yakabura before reaching Post Seba on the Demerara river. A visit was made to Ororo-Marali or Great Fall. They then returned to Wikki and made a brief trip to the Upper Canje Creek before arriving at New Amsterdam on the 31st March 1837.
Robert Schomburgk's next expedition was aimed at exploring the Essequibo river to its sources and to Esmerelda on the Upper Orinoco River and to connect his survey with that of the earlier one of Baron Alexander Von Humboldt. On this occasion the explorer was accompanied by Mr. Vieth, an assistant naturalist, Mr. Morrison, a draftsman, Mr. Le Breton, in charge of supplies, Mr. Peterson, coxswain, and several Warrau Indians as crew members.
They left Georgetown on the 12th September 1837 and journeyed up the Essequibo River to Tampa and then the Taquiari or Kumuti Mountains where they discovered some Indian picture writings. On the 16th October 1837 they reached the Rupununi River and then through its tributary, the Rewa or Roiwa River and passed Mount Ataraipo or Devil's Rock. By November the party continued overland through forests, streams and savannahs and eventually reached Watuticaba, a Wapisiana Indian settlement.
Robert Schomburgk continued crossing savannahs and visiting settlements of Taruma Indians before descending the Cuyuwini River to the mighty Essequibo and its sources. On December 15th, 1837 the Caneruau river was reached. The following day Sierra Acarai was seen for the first time and a British ensign was hoisted and firmly secured to one of the trees. The expedition returned to Annai and proceeded to Pirara from where the Kanuku Mountains were explored in May, 1838. Several excursions were also made to neighbouring savannahs in the Rupununi. These were overflooded due to heavy rains at the time.
On 6th October, 1838 Robert Schomburgk embarked on a difficult journey to Esmerelda on the Orinoco River. He arrived there on 22nd February, 1839 and then proceeded down the Orinoco to the Cassiquiare, to the Rio Negro and then up River Branco. He reached Port San Joaquim on 22nd April, 1839 and had achieved his objective of connecting his journeys with those of Humboldt's on the Upper Orinoco. They returned to Georgetown on 20th June, 1839 after travelling a stretch of over 3000 miles of water.
Robert Schomburgk returned to England for a period of well-deserved rest following his rather extensive explorations of the main rivers during the 1835-1839 period. Interestingly, even before his departure from Georgetown he had written the then Governor, Henry Light stressing the urgent need to fix the boundary between Brazil and the colony of British Guiana. Such a plea was made against the background of finding Brazilian soldiers in the Pirara district and of frequent incursions by Brazilians into Guyana's territory at that juncture of our country's history.
Older Guyanese cricket fans were saddened last week by the news of the death overseas of two of our country's finest cricketers of the pre-independence era. Robert Julian Christiani passed away in Canada at the age of 84, while Conrad Sven Stayers, better known as "Charlie" Stayers, died in England at the age of 67. This writer was particularly saddened by the news, for Christiani was my boyhood cricket hero and I was personally acquainted with Stayers, with whom I grew up in close geographical proximity.
Christiani and Stayers had at least two features in common. They both attended St. Stanislaus College and played domestic cricket for the now defunct British Guiana Cricket Club (B.G.C.C.), whose once prestigious ground in Thomas Lands, reduced to a garbage dump in modern times, sadly languishes today. On the cricket field, however, they were different. Christiani was primarily a specialist middle-order batsman, while Stayers was a bowling all-rounder, a fast bowler who was an able lower-order batsman.
Stayers was born on June 9, 1937. My earliest memory of him as a cricketer is that of a young "tearaway" fast bowler. Bowling with frightening pace "with the breeze" from the northern end of the St. Stanislaus College ground bordering the sea wall, he terrified opposing batsmen while representing his school in the local Wight Cup competition in the mid 1950s.
It was a few years later in March 1958 that Stayers made his debut for British Guiana at the Georgetown Cricket Club ground at Bourda against the Pakistani touring team during its historic initial visit to the Caribbean. Then 20 years old, he was the only debutant in the national team led by the Barbadian, Clyde Walcott. The other nine members of the side in batting order were Glendon Gibbs, Bruce Pairaudeau, Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, Ivan Madray, Edwin Mohamed, Ian Jordan and Patrick Legall. The Berbician, Sonny Moonsammy, was the 12th man or emergency fieldsman.
Batting at Number 10, Stayers contributed only a single to his team's substantial total of 441 which was due mainly to centuries by Butcher (122) and Solomon (121) and much smaller contributions of (48) by Kanhai, (28) by Gibbs and Madray and (25) by Walcott.
Stayers was asked to open the bowling with Legall, another 20-year-old, the first time in many years that a Guianese team had a pair of genuinely fast opening bowlers. He immediately created an impression, capturing a wicket with the third ball of the initial over of his first-class career. His first two deliveries were pitched wide of the off-stump, the second being ruled a wide by the umpire. With the third delivery and the Pakistani score at
one, however, he dismissed their star player, Hanif Mohammad, who in the first Test against the West Indies at Kensington Oval in Barbados six weeks earlier in January 1958 had scored a triple century (337 runs) and had broken the world record for the longest innings in Test cricket.
Stayers forced Hanif to play the ball on to his stumps and later knocked back the off stump of Waqar Hassan who made a duck. The score was then 38 for the loss of three wickets and by the end of the day's play 104 for 4. The headline in the report on the day's play which appeared in the next day's issue of the Daily Chronicle newspaper was appropriate: "Furious Stayers And Legall Have Pakistan In Trouble."
Pakistan was eventually dismissed for a score of 227. This was due mainly to the performance of Stayers, who captured 4 for 78 in 25 overs and was his team's best and most successful bowler. The visitors were asked to follow on and in their second innings compiled 414 for 5, owing mainly to centuries from the opener, Alimuddin (133) and the middle-order batsman, Wazir Mohammad (102 not out). The game ended in a tame draw. Stayers again bowled with pace, but with little success, taking one wicket for 81 runs in 22 overs.
This performance proved to be the beginning of a successful career, which Stayers had especially for British Guiana. It prompted local sports writers to call for his inclusion in the Test team for the fourth Test at Bourda as the partner for the fiery Jamaican pace bowler, Roy Gilchrist. This call, however, went unheeded and, as will be seen later, four more years were to elapse before Stayers was able to make his Test debut.
Stayers was a tall elegant cricketer. As a bowler he had a somewhat leisurely approach to the wicket and a comparatively short run-up and delivered the ball from a high upright position. His bowling had several virtues. He had genuine pace and was usually hostile, especially with the first new ball. He was an aggressive bowler who usually employed an attacking field, a factor which adversely affected his economy rate. He was also quite accurate, forcing the batsmen to play. Furthermore, he swung the ball both ways and had an effective bouncer, which he used judiciously.
Stayers was a free-scoring batsman who had a relaxed upright stance. He hit the ball hard and cleanly, specialising in drives in the arc between extra cover and mid on. He was particularly comfortable against pace bowling, but also able against spin. He normally batted at Number 8, but occasionally at No. 7 or No. 9. As an all-rounder, he reminds this author of Malcolm Marshall, though he could not match the latter's skill as a bowler.
The second instalment of this article will focus on Stayers' performance in regional inter-territorial cricket.
The first instalment of this article focused on the first-class cricket debut of Sven Conrad Stayers better known as "Charlie Stayers", who died recently in the United Kingdom at the age of sixty-seven. It also outlined Stayers' main virtues as a bowling all-rounder. This instalment will examine his performance in Caribbean inter-territorial cricket.
Stayers in spite of his undoubted ability, had a relatively short first-class career of about five years, beginning in 1958 and ending in 1963, when he was only 26 years old. In these years he represented his homeland, British Guiana, in nine games, six against other Caribbean territories and three against touring teams from overseas.
In the six matches which Stayers played against Barbados, the Combined Leeward and Windward Islands, Jamaica and Trinidad, he scored 315 runs, including one hundred and one half century, in 9 innings, at an average of 39.37 runs an innings. In these games he also bowled 202 overs, of which 25 were maidens, conceded 702 runs and captured 34 wickets, at an average cost of 21.23 runs a wicket. In three of the eleven innings in which he bowled, he took six wickets and four wickets in two of the others. Three of these six games were played at the Georgetown Cricket Club ground at Bourda, one at Rose Hall in Berbice and two at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Sayers' team-mates in the national team included some of the finest cricketers produced by Guyana, such as the middle-order batsmen, Basil Butcher, Rohan Kanhai, and Joe Solomon, and the off-spinner, Lance Gibbs. Among them also were the opening batsmen, Glendon Gibbs, Bruce Pairaudeau and Colin Wiltshire, the middle-order batsmen, Victor Harnanan, Sonny Moonsammy and Leslie Amsterdam, the all-rounder, Brian Patoir, the spinners, Basil Mohabir, Edwin Mohamed and Norman Wight, the medium pacers, Saranga Baichu and Carlyle Miller, and the fast or medium-fast bowlers, Colin Heron, Pat Legall, and Nigel Slinger. The team's captain was the famous Barbadian batsman, Clyde Walcott, and its wicket-keeper, Ivor Mendonca, who was also an able batsman. Some of these players are hardly remembered today.
Stayers' best performances with the bat for his country were both against Barbados. The first occurred at Kensington Oval early in 1959, when he was 21 years old and playing only his third first-class game. Batting at Number 8, Stayers came to the wicket with his team in deep trouble with a score of 87 for the loss of six wickets. He proceeded to make a century (120 runs), the only first-class hundred of his career, sharing a productive seventh-wicket partnership of 198 runs in 217 minutes with the left-handed opener, Glendon Gibbs, who also made a hundred. (123).
This remarkable unexpected stand enabled British Guiana to recover to reach a total of 316 in reply to Barbados' mammoth first innings score of 539 for 8 wickets declared. In that innings Stayers was his team's best bowler, taking four wickets for 117 runs in 32 overs. His fine all-round performance, however, could not prevent his team from eventually losing the five-day game by 121 runs.
Stayers' other memorable feat with the bat occurred in October 1961 against Barbados at Bourda in the final of the region's first five-way tournament, involving also the Combined Leeward-Windward Islands, Jamaica and Trinidad. Batting again at Number 8, Stayers came to the wicket to join Joe Solomon at a critical juncture, with his team's score 202 for 6, 66 runs behind the Barbadian first innings total of 268.
He and Solomon, the last pair of recognised batsmen, shared a productive seventh-wicket partnership of 87 runs. Eventually Stayers was the last man out, run out for 83, including 12 fours, made in just over three hours. His effort, aided by useful contributions from Lance Gibbs (31) and Carlyle Miller (15), enabled his team to reach the respectable total of 387 and thus gain a sizable unexpected lead of 119 runs. Stayers' innings was his side's second best score, being eclipsed by a fine century (146) by Solomon.
The Daily Chronicle cricket reporter described Stayers' innings thus: "Stayers, playing freely and handsomely, went on to nail home the fact that he is one of the best all-rounders in the West Indies today. He drove, cut and pulled with power, and he glanced nicely for a chanceless knock of 83 before being last man out - and run out. Even his staunchest critics have now been silenced: he has certainly played himself into the West Indies team to play India next year.
So inspiring was his performance that the British Guiana tail of doubtfuls wagged more vigorously than it has ever done. So much so that instead of the narrow lead which was hoped for at lunch, the homesters gained the sizable one of 119".
On the last day of the game Stayers again rescued his team with the bat. British Guiana, having dismissed the Bajans for 244 in their second innings, was required to score only 126 runs to win the game. The team with a score of 100 for two, seemed destined to reach the target easily, but then lost four wickets quickly.
Stayers came to the wicket with the score at 116 for 5 and one player, Mendonca, retired hurt. The atmosphere was very tense and his team and its supporters were beginning to panic. At 117 the team lost another wicket, increasing the alarm. However, Stayers immediately hit the winning runs - two boundaries off the backfoot through the covers and an on drive for a single. He made 10 not out and enabled British Guiana not only to win the game by four wickets, but to retain the title of regional champions which it had been holding since 1956.
Stayers' bowling was also crucial to his team's victory. He was its most successful bowler, capturing nine wickets in the game - 6 for 70 in the first innings and 3 for 64 in the second innings, when he was eclipsed by his opening partner, Patrick Legall, who took 5 wickets for 24 runs.
Stayers' bowling, like his batting, evoked considerable praise from the Daily Chronicle reporter. In an article entitled "Charlie Stayers Sends Barbados Reeling", the reporter observed: "British Guiana's fast bowler, Charlie Stayers, sent Barbados plunging yesterday when the Inter-Territorial Cricket final opened on the GCC ground, Bourda. In a non-stop spell during the 90 minutes before Lunch, Stayers delivered three stunning blows. Then he came back late in the afternoon to clip another one, and leave the tourists struggling at 235 for 8 by stumps.
Stayers was magnificent‚€¦Bowling at top speed on a wicket which was giving lift before lunch, the BG all-rounder sent back Seymour Nurse, Conrad Hunte and Everton Weekes, the last for a duck.
He forced the batsmen to play all the time, and kept swinging the ball in and out. He also made judicial use of bouncers, nailing home the fact that he is the best new ball bowler in the West Indies today."
This game, which proved to be the last in which Stayers would play for his country, witnessed the finest all-round performance of his career. It was the culmination of a season in which he enjoyed unprecedented success.
In the first game of the championship two weeks earlier, Stayers had achieved the finest bowling figures in an innings in his first-class career - 6 for 63 in 18 overs against the Combined Islands at Bourda.
His bowling and a fine innings of 197 by Colin Wiltshire were mainly responsible for the massive Guianese victory by an innings and 144 runs.
In the three matches which British Guiana played in this October 1961 regional competition, Stayers captured 23 wickets for 401 runs with an average of 17.43 runs a wicket and scored 117 runs in four innings with an average of 39 runs an innings. This impressive all-round performance enabled him to gain selection for the West Indies in the Test series in 1962 against an Indian touring team led by the Nawab of Pataudi.
Stayers' Test career and his contribution to Guyanese cricket will be the subject of the third and final instalment of this article which will appear next week.
(Part III - Final Instalment)
This final instalment of this article on Conrad Sven Stayers, better known as Charlie Stayers, will focus primarily on two issues, namely, his Test career and his contribution to Guyanese cricket. The first two instalments dealt with his first-class career and his attributes as a bowling all-rounder.
From the beginning of Stayers' first-class career in March 1958, when he bowled impressively for British Guiana against the visiting Pakistani national team, there were calls by local journalists for his inclusion in the West Indies Test side. Understand-ably, however, these calls for the selection of a player with only a single first-class appearance went unheeded. The regional selectors decided instead to entrust the new ball to the more experienced Jamaican pair, Roy Gilchrist and Tom Dewdney.
The local calls for Stayers' inclusion in the Test team were renewed late in 1959 when an English team, led by Peter May, arrived in the Caribbean to play a series of five Test matches. His candidature was now stronger in the wake of a good all-round performance in regional inter-territorial games earlier in the year against Barbados at Kensington Oval and Jamaica at Bourda. In three games Stayers had scored 198 runs, including a century, at an average of 39.60 runs an innings, and had captured 12 wickets at an average of 26.75 runs each.
Stayers was chosen in the squad of players selected to travel to Barbados with a view to selection for the first Test against the Englishmen early in January 1960. However, he failed to make the final eleven, preference being given to the Jamaican, Chester Watson, as the partner for the Barbadian, Wesley Hall, who by then had become the region's leading fast bowler. Guyanese journalists complained that Stayers had been given a "raw deal", especially as he was a more able batsman than Watson.
Stayers eventually was able to force his way into the West Indies Test team as a result of his impressive performance in the historic regional competition held in British Guiana in October 1961 and involving five teams for the first time. Particularly impressive was his success in the presence of the West Indies selectors in the keenly contested final in which British Guiana defeated Barbados by four wickets. Stayers was the main architect of his team's victory, taking 9 wickets in the game for 134 runs (6 for 70 and 3 for 64) and scoring 83 and 10 not-out, including the winning run.
Stayers' Test debut occurred at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad in February 1962 in the first Test of a series against India. He failed with the bat, scoring only four runs, but performed satisfactorily with the ball, taking 3 for 65 and 1 for 20 in a game which the West Indies won by 10 wickets.
Stayers represented the West Indies in the following three Tests at Sabina Park, Kensington Oval and again at the Queen's Park Oval, where the fourth Test was shifted from its scheduled venue at Bourda because of political disturbances in Georgetown. Stayers was therefore deprived of the opportunity of playing a Test before his home crowd.
In these three games Stayers' highest score was 35 not-out, which he made batting at Number 9 in the second Test at Sabina Park. He shared a productive eighth-wicket partnership with another Guyanese, the wicker-keeper, Ivor Mendonca, who was making his Test debut and scored 78 runs. Their stand enabled the West Indies to reach a mammoth score of 631 for 8 wickets declared, which was due mainly to centuries from Easton McMorris (125), Rohan Kanhai (138) and Garfield Sobers (153).
The match ended in a West Indian victory by an innings and 18 runs, with Stayers taking 1 for 76 in 23 overs and 0 for 25 in 10 overs in the two Indian innings. It was a historic game for Guyanese cricket, for it was the first occasion that as many as five Guyanese - Stayers, Mendonca, Kanhai, Joe Solomon and Lance Gibbs - had represented the West Indies in a Test match.
Stayers' best bowling performance after the first Test was 2 for 24 in 18 overs in the second innings of the third Test at Kensington Oval, when he captured the first two wickets, those of Jaisimha and Surti. The other eight wickets were taken by his compatriot, Lance Gibbs, for only 38 runs, enabling the West Indies to gain another innings victory. This was a historic event, the only occasion in Test cricket that all ten wickets in an innings were captured by Guyanese bowlers.
Stayers' performances in the next Test in Trinidad was very disappointing. Batting at Number 10, he scored only 12 in the West Indies' substantial score of 444 for 9 wickets declared and had unimpressive bowling figures of 0 for 23 in 8 overs and 1 for 50 in 10 overs. Not surprisingly, he was dropped for the final Test in Jamaica. His replacement, the Jamaican fast-medium bowler, Lester King, justified the selectors' decision with a brilliant performance on his debut, capturing 5 for 46 in 19 overs and 2 for 18 in 13 overs, helping the West Indies to win not only the game, but also all the Tests in a series for the first time.
In the series Stayers scored 58 runs in four innings with an average of 19.33 runs an innings and captured nine wickets for 364 runs in 106 overs at a high cost of 40.44 runs a wicket. His surprising ineffectiveness with the ball was due partly to the fact that he bowled at reduced pace, apparently because of an allegation that his action at top pace was somewhat suspect.
Later in the year, Stayers, Lester King and Chester Watson proceeded to India, where they were contracted by the Indian cricket authorities to play and coach with a view to promoting and developing fast bowling in the sub-continent. While he was there, Stayers played four first class matches - two for Bombay in the domestic Ranji Trophy competition and the others for West Zone against South Zone and for the Chief Minister's XI against the Governor's XI.
Stayers was quite successful in these matches. He took 14 wickets for 321 runs in 72 overs or an average cost of 22.92 runs a wicket and scored 91 runs in four innings, with a highest score of 53 and an average of 30.33 runs an innings. In one of the games for Baroda, statistically he had the best bowling performance in an innings in first-class cricket in his entire career, 6 for 36.
At the end of his contract in India Stayers remained overseas to pursue higher studies. Surprisingly, he never played first-class cricket again.
Thus unexpectedly and regrettably, the contribution of this able all-rounder was lost to Guyanese and West Indies cricket prematurely, at the young age of 25 before he reached his peak. Few players, if any, in the history of Guyanese cricket with his ability, potential and success, have had such a short first-class or Test career.
In spite of the brevity of his career, Stayers' contribution to Guyanese cricket was substantial. It, however, has never been sufficiently acknowledged. His main contribution lies in the fact that he played a major role in enabling British Guiana to maintain ascendancy in Caribbean inter-territorial cricket in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In these years he was by far his country's most successful bowler, even eclipsing his more highly esteemed team-mate, Lance Gibbs, who began his Test career before Stayers made his first-class debut.
This little-known fact is clearly reflected in the statistics for that period. For example, in the four inter-territorial games in which Stayers and Gibbs represented British Guiana, Stayers took 28 wickets for 512 runs or an average cost of 18.28 runs a wicket, while Gibbs had 14 victims for 524 runs or a cost of 36 runs a wicket.
Stayers was one of the most hostile bowlers produced by Guyana. He was particularly hostile and effective with the first new ball in the first innings of a match. On the rare occasion, however, when he failed to make an impression with the first new ball, he was particularly dangerous when he returned for his second spell, as occurred on the first day of a game against Jamaica at Bourda in October 1959.
The Jamaican opening pair, Allan Rae (65) and Easton Morris (92) put on 132 runs for the first wicket, enabling their team to reach over 200 by tea with the loss of only two wickets, one to Stayers' fellow paceman, Patrick Legall, and the other to the off-spinner, Norman Wight. Play after the interval was described by the Daily Chronicle reporter in an article entitled "Stayers stakes claim for Test Pick" thus: "A brilliant post-Tea bowling spell by Charlie Stayers wrecked Jamaica's hopes of putting a mammoth total here today.
Stayers with no wicket in the opening spell during the morning came back after tea with the second new ball, skittled through three wickets for 18 runs and caused a batting slump from 208 for 2 to 223 for 5."
Stayers' effectiveness as a bowler is reflected in the fact that in three of the fifteen innings in which he bowled for British Guiana he captured six wickets and in three others four wickets. In his nine games for his homeland he took 45 wickets at an average cost of 24.22 runs each.
His value as a player was enhanced by his productive batting in the lower order. In 13 innings for British Guiana, he scored 336 runs, including one century (120) and one half-century (83), achieving an average of 30.53 runs an innings.
Stayers developed a reputation of being a reliable batsman, with excellent temperament, especially in times of crisis. He rescued British Guiana on several occasions with the bat. On one such occasion in 1959, when he and Joe Solomon put on 43 runs for the seventh wicket in difficult circumstances to enable their team to gain a first-innings lead over Jamaica, the Daily Chronicle Sports Editor, Charles Chichester, described them as "our two best crisis batsmen."
Stayers, in fact, is one of the finest all-rounders produced by Guyana. Only four players who represented Guyana in its 140 years of first-class cricket have matched or surpassed Stayers' career performance as an all-rounder. These cricketers are Edward Wright, an Englishman who played in the 1880s and 1890s, Cyril "Snuffy" Browne, a Barbadian who played for British Guiana between 1909 and 1939, Roger Harper and Carl Hooper.
Stayers has a good claim to join Colin Croft as the pair of fast bowlers in an imaginary best Guyanese cricket team. Admittedly, the Berbician, John Trim, has a far better Test record (18 wickets at an excellent average cost of 16.16 runs each). Trim's performance for British Guiana, however, was very moderate (38 wickets in 15 games at a high average cost of 42.47 runs each) and far inferior to that of Stayers, who was also a much better batsman than Trim, whose career batting average is only 11.69.
Charlie Stayers ought to be remembered and honoured as a fine bowling all-rounder who in his entire first-class career of 17 matches took 68 wickets at average of 26.10 runs each and scored 485 runs, including one century and two fifties, at an average of 28.52 runs an innings. He is one of only seven Guyanese opening bowlers who have represented the West Indies in its long history of 77 years of Test cricket. He will also always be ranked among the finest Guyanese cricketers of the pre-independence era.