King's College London
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‘The paradise of the world’: conflict and society in the Caribbean

Cricket

Faded sepia photograph showing cricketers playingCricketers on the Georgetown Parade Ground, from: George W Bennett. An illustrated history of British Guiana. Georgetown [Guyana]: printed by L McDermott, 1866 [FCO Historical Collection F2371 BEN]Cricket, now such an integral part of Caribbean life, has a long history in the region. The first known printed reference to the game being played there is found in an issue of the Barbados mercury, dated 10 May 1806, where a meeting of the St Ann’s Cricket Club is announced. This suggests that the sport was already reasonably well established by then.

Introduced by the British, club cricket was for a long time largely the preserve of the white population. The first official inter-colonial game was held in 1865, when Barbados beat British Guiana at Bridgetown. A return match was held at Georgetown later the same year and this time British Guiana was victorious. The faded photograph on display may have been taken during this game.

The Parade Ground, depicted in the photograph, was used by the Georgetown Cricket Club, founded in 1858. Membership of the club was restricted to players of British birth or descent, but in the following decades participation in the game (though not membership of the Georgetown Cricket Club) was opened up to other races, and watching or playing cricket became one of the most popular pastimes in British Guiana.

Dozens of clubs sprang up, representing all the country’s various racial groups; only among the indigenous Amerindian peoples was participation in the game low. In the 1890s the segregated nature of competition began to diminish; the first racially mixed clubs were formed and matches were occasionally held between clubs representing different races.

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