Anand Sookram, champion south-paw tennis player and cricketer, has passed on
I would like to thank the unnamed contributor to the letters column in the local media of Wednesday, May 10th edition, through whom I learnt of the passing of Anand Sookram at the age of 69.
Through your medium, I wish to share some more information on Anand Sookram. I was fortunate to get in contact with a close colleague of his: opening batsman for Port Mourant and Everest Cricket Club, Isaac Surinarain, who provided most of the following information, which should be of interest to sports enthusiasts.
Anand’s early claim to fame came through his prowess at table tennis, inspired by his coach Elik Nankoo, a Berbician gentleman who coached at the Port Mourant Community Centre. Sookram went on to become junior champion of Port Mourant Community Centre Club in Berbice, and then put Guyana on the table tennis map by winning the Caribbean Junior Tennis Championship. At the senior level, he won the Berbice and Guyana National Championship competition, and was runner-up in the annual Berbice Sportsman of the Year Award (not certain of which year).
A very important fact is that Sookram played against a Korean national player named Dholjuan Lee in a match held at Queen’s College and watched by Dr Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham and Peter D’Aguiar. Sookram was beaten, but gave a credible performance and was commended by the Korean international.
Incidentally, at the same venue, Isaac Surinarain played a 2-set match against an English national champion player named Richard Bergman (not sure on spelling of name).
In the sport of cricket, he was a useful batsman, but was essentially selected as a bowler possessing the useful ability to bowl left-arm medium pace and orthodox leg-spin to good effect. He bowled with immaculate accuracy in The Rothman’s Cup final (circa 1972) and helped to strangle the stroke play of the Etwaroo brothers in particular, to hand the Everest Cricket Club its first victory in the knock-out format under the captaincy of the late David Persaud.
Anand possessed a great cricketing brain, and liked to devise strategies to get his opponents out. I remember him telling my late father, David Persaud, in my presence that table tennis helped to sharpen his cricketing skills, and he liked to play tennis at every opportunity while in the pavilion awaiting his turn to do battle on the field.
Anand’s cremation in New York on Thursday, May 4, was fittingly attended by many of his fellow Berbician cricketers, notably stalwarts Sew (Black Boy) Shivnarine, a former WI Test cricketer; Isaac Surinarain; Derek Kalicharran; the Beasmonie brothers, Gopie and Vinoo; Kamal Singh, and the Etwaroo brothers among others.
On a personal note, I owe Anand a debt of gratitude for encouraging me to bowl googlies when he saw me delivering my left-arm ‘chinaman’ deliveries in our Queenstown backyard. He immediately put me on a crash course to learn to bowl the “wrong un”, as it is sometimes called.
To his grieving widow and five children, I extend our deepest sympathy to you all.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge the sporting authorities to do research into our past sporting legends and their legacies, in an effort to pay tribute to these erstwhile individuals, but also with a view to providing some inspiration to aspiring youngsters.
May Bhagwan Ram grant his atman eternal rest.