By Elroy Stephney
I was indeed impressed with the rapid transformation of the Reliance ground on the Essequibo Coast. In fact, an interim management committee (IMC) was established on the advice of former Essequibo Under-19 Inter-county batsman Ravindra Madholall, about two years ago on one of his regular visits to his homeland.
The body was primarily tasked with reviving the sport in the village after many years of dormancy after the ground was abandoned and left to the mercy of stray animals.
The Reliance Grounds Committee was then formed under the chairmanship of Trevis Simon. Immediately there was intent and a transitional phase began at the site.
Historically, during the early 1990s, the older members had taken the decision to plant rice there which they did for one crop as a fund-raising venture – an act perhaps that has never been replicated in the world!
Situated in Central Essequibo, the Reliance ground is now equipped with a main pavilion that can easily accommodate in excess of five hundred (500) spectators, washrooms for both males and females, a canteen and boundary ropes.
The gated facility was also re-graded and more dirt was thrown to elevate the surface so as to negate flooding. It is now an amazing sight and significantly, fans, who have since gathered in large numbers, are equally thrilled by the atmosphere whenever matches are held, primarily on Sundays.
It is no coincidence therefore that I am now advocating for the naming of the stands at the venue after the Madholalls; a household name in Reliance and indeed across the country.
I had great pleasure and lasting memories competing with and against the siblings namely Rovendra, Ravindra, the late Shivanandan and Narendra Madholall.
Unquestionably, they have been the pride and joy of the little village including the late S.N. Lall, popularly known as Hamlet, who was their father. While there has been a significant interest to develop the game in the village, I believe it is an opportune time also to symbolically recognise those local heroes.
In retrospect, Rovendra Madholall was the darling of Essequibo fans as his attractive stroke-play was quite pleasing to the eye. He dominated club cricket on his way to achieving several records including the highest individual score of 179 at the inter-committee Under-19 level – a feat that had just eluded me after scoring an unbeaten 175 against Pomeroon almost two decades ago in a similar tournament.
Such was the impact of Rovendra that gaining his wicket was always a prize and much delight for the opposition. Yet however he didn’t replicate similar success at the senior inter-county level though he played some invaluable innings, including an attractive unbeaten half-century to steer North Essequibo to a memorable victory against Albion in a national competition.
He would later elevate himself to becoming a Guyana youth player and joining an elite few from Essequibo to have achieved such status.
In contrast, Shiv Madholall’s flair as a left-handed batsman, his hostile bowling and athleticism in the field made him the most sought-after cricketer.
His affectionate personality and strong sense of humour also attracted keen attention in the dressing room. He was such an impact player whose die-hard attitude made the game very special since there was never a dull moment when Shiv was in action.
He went on to wear national colours and was the first Essequibian to captain the President’s XI in the Regional Under-19 championship held in Guyana in 2001.
Unfortunately, Shiv perished at the blossoming age of 31 when most cricketers would have been at the height of their game.
His demise was a tremendous loss to the cricketing fraternity. Rovendra and Shivnandan’s combination is now beginning to be manifested by their youngest brother Narendra Madholall whose left-handed elegance along with his colossal presence is quite amazing.
Ravendra Madholall, on the other hand, was very stylish. His mental toughness made him a formidable leader. He admirably led the village to many titles. On my next visit therefore, I would love to see portraits of the Madholalls being proudly positioned at the Reliance ground in recognition of their outstanding contribution as well as the main pavilion being named in memory of the late Shivnandan Madholall.