‘Lightweight' and test cricket Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News
November 10, 2006

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It was only last Saturday when I was reading the Internet edition of the Kaieteur News that I came upon the sad news of the passing of Harold ‘Lightweight' Kissoon, someone I consider to be Guyana's greatest sports organiser and mentor.

Readers will recall that last year I called on the government to dedicate the new Durban Park facility to this fine son of Guyana, since it was at Durban Park -- but not exclusively at Durban Park -- that ‘Lightweight' made a name for himself in the seventies when he was highly successful in organising Cavalcade of Sports for our young people. It was also at that venue that he put together one of the fastest rising young football clubs -- ‘Lodge Rovers.'

I still hope that the government sees it fitting to rename Durban Park after ‘Lightweight,' because he embodied the sort of commitment that is needed for the mentoring of young people within our society. He developed a reputation based on three traits: frankness, selflessness and hard work. This was the secret of “Lightweight's” success. He told you as it was; he was not interested in personal fame; and he worked extremely hard as a sporting enthusiast.

Uncle Freddie, his brother, wrote yesterday that he did not share his brother's politics. I would like the learned professor to reconsider that statement, because while ‘Lightweight' was a member of Hammie Green's GGG party, ‘Lightweight' was not a hardliner, an ideologue, or someone who was critical of other parties.

I think that more than anything ‘Lightweight' saw his involvement in the GGG as providing a vehicle for him to make a contribution to the country; and as someone with a passion for helping his community and those around him, ‘Lightweight's' politics were not anti-PPP, anti-PNC, or anti-anything. It was always pro-people.

‘Lightweight' is, in fact, the sort of politician you need in Guyana , one who does not see race, class or political affiliation in making judgements. He did things his way, and not the way people wanted him to act.

I extend to his grieving family, friends, and colleagues my condolences. The whistle has blown, calling an end to his life, and he leaves the ball field to the appreciation of those whose life he touched.

One of the things that I know would have enraged ‘Lightweight,' had he lived, was the statement made by the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, at the dedication ceremony for the cricket stadium at Providence . At the ceremony, the President said that the stadium was not only built for Cricket World Cup 2007, but it was also built because Guyana 's hosting of test matches was threatened because of the lack of proper facilities.

I cannot agree with this statement. The stadium built at Providence was built for one reason alone: to host matches in Cricket World Cup 2007. The Indian Government extended a loan and grant funding, not because Guyana was in a desperate situation, but because India will play their preliminary matches in Guyana , and the Indian Government, therefore, had a direct interest in building the stadium.

Clearly, of course, existing facilities in Guyana would have required massive investments if they were to be upgraded to meet the requirements to host next year's tournament matches. Instead of spending this money, the government thought that the better option was to build a new stadium which, considering India 's participation in matches in Guyana , India was willing to help.

A distinction has to be made between the requirements for hosting test matches and hosting Cricket World Cup 2007. The latter tournament demands a whole set of requirements, some of which, I believe, are unconstitutional, such as, for example, limitations on new advertising within certain perimeters of the grounds used to host matches. I believe that those requirements infringe on the liberty of our subjects, and collide with the statutory authority of various bodies in the country. That, however, is a subject for another time.

The hosting of test matches, on the other hand, does not make such stringent requirements as are demanded by the organisers of Cricket World Cup 2007, and therefore I see no impediment why test matches could not be hosted, as they have been for years, at the traditional test-playing venues in Guyana. As far as I am aware, Guyana 's hosting of test matches was never in doubt, and therefore it is quite surprising to learn that the stadium will ensure that Guyana can at least host test matches for the next 75 years.

I am calling on the Guyana Cricket Board of Control to publicly clarify whether there was any threat to Guyana losing its status as a host country for test cricket because of the lack of proper facilities.

This will settle definitively the dispute as to whether without the stadium Guyana would never have seen another test match for the next seventy-five years.