Symonds: Somerset reject but a St. George’s legend


After I concluded this interview with Calvin (Bummy) Symonds, a feeling of awe overcame me for I realised that I had just spent an hour with greatness. His story is a most fascinating one. Was it true that he was rejected by Somerset? Was it also true that while he was skipper, the St. George’s officials asked him to halt the game so that it would last two days? These and many more interesting facts came to light.

We sat for an hour sharing cricket tales, both reminiscing about those wonderful marches St. George’s used to have from the Town Square, with the torches made from mop sticks and brooms sticks and tin cans.

We also recalled that wonderful feeling that a victorious team would enjoy when the Cup Match boat returned from Somerset. A hero’s welcome awaited as throngs of supporters lined the Ordanace Island/ King’s Square area.

* * * *

Name: Calvin Roderick Symonds

Date of Birth: March 29, 1932

Start in cricket: My cricket career began at the age of 14. I joined Western Stars and broke into the team as a number four batsman. I played with them most of my life.

In 1948, at age 16, I played for an SICL pick team. I went up to Somerset and tried to make their Cup Match team that year, and the next, but I was not selected as I was from across the bridge (Somerset Bridge). So, the next year, I was encouraged by Cal Wade to come to St. George’s and I made Cup Match that same year as an 18 year-old. Three other top players from my era were turned back by Somerset also. These were Lloyd James, Eldon Raynor and Lee Raynor.

Length of cricket career: My Cup Match career began in 1950 and I retired from Cup Match in 1969. I was captain of the team from 1961 to 1969. During those nine years, St. George’s won eight times, with four wins being ‘two-to-ones’. I missed two years, those being 1955 and 1956, when I was in England playing football.

During my time as skipper, Somerset used five different captains, Charles Swan, John Stovell, Mackie Simmons, Sheridan Raynor, and Randy Horton.

Childhood memories with the game: My brother Nelson took me to the Sports Arena, down below Berkeley. I used to call that ground “Lords”. I used to keep the tally for them during the matches. I recall people such as Clayton Richardson, ‘Smudger’ Brown, and Wilfred Wilson playing in those days.

I played with a team called the Boys Own Cricket Club that had people such as ‘Jimmy’ Brock, Georgie Dyer, Stan Seymour, Luther Wilkin and Ross Wilson on it. Later, I joined a team called Sponges. We used to play against adult teams. Eventually, most of us went on to join the Western Stars Sports Club.

Teams played for: Western Stars, St. Georges’s Cricket Club, Pond Hill Stars, PHC and SICL picks.

Nickname: Bummy

Favourite local match in which you played: When I was 18, the full English squad came here in December, on their way to the Caribbean. That team had such people in it as Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Peter May, Freddie Trueman, Jim Laker, and Tom Graveney. They won the toss and elected to bat. At one stage, they were 90 without loss. At that time, Woodgate Simmons told Chopper to go off the ball and he gave it to Eugene ‘Buck’ Woods and I. ‘Buck’ broke the partnership and I had Hutton caught. Eventually, they were all out for 130 odd. We made 111 but it was a most memorable game.

I remember clean bowling Tom Graveney. I gave him a big inswinger that beat him. He just stood up and looked at me. In later years, he came back to Bermuda and scored a double century. He was later quoted telling folks in England, “Don’t think you’re going to go to Bermuda and have a picnic with their players. They can play some cricket.”

Best international feat: The International Cricketer’s Club of the UK came here with such people as Fred Titmus, Derek Underwood, and Sir Garfield Sobers in it. They knocked us down for 75. We knocked them down for 42. Of course, the folks in England questioned this and thought that a mistake was made and that it was 442. The great Clarence Parfitt had figures of seven for 12. He clean bowled Sobers for a first ball duck.

In the second innings they had to make 170 and only reached 130. That was most satisfying because they had this “cocky” fellow in their line-up, Ken Barrington, who we heard saying, “Let’s go finish off these village cricketers and go to the beach”. Clarence Parfitt clean bowled him twice. On one occasion Clarence gave him three leg breaks that went away from him. I told Clarence “Don’t forget the inswinger.” Barrington left this alone, only to see his wicket shattered.

Favourite venue: Somerset Cricket Club.

Favourite international player: Tom Graveney. He took the time to train our local players and we were very grateful for his helpfulness.

Number one supporter: My family members, some of whom include my uncle Leroy, my uncle Gladwin, and ‘Hilly’, and of course my wife Valerie.

Pre-match routine(s): I always had a meeting with the team prior to the game to tell them what was expected of them to get the job done.

I also liked to have a swim about 6 o’clock on the morning of the game. (This is something that ‘Bummy’ and I share in common).

I used to leave about 8am for the match.

The year that I was a colt. however, I did not stay at home but rather at the home of Cyril Packwood, who lived a couple of minutes from the Wellington Oval. I twisted and turned so much that night that I broke his bed. Eventually, he called Clarence Simmons to the house to talk to me and help me get to sleep. I only made two runs that first year. I had to bat with stitches in my hand. I injured myself trying to take a return catch off the bat of ‘Bunkers’ Bean.

Favourite dish while playing: Fish. Often, however, I would just have some tea with lemon in it.

Biggest regret in your career: During the time that I was playing, Bermuda did not have the opportunity to play in the World Cup competitions.

Any superstitions: None.

Funniest thing you have seen in cricket: During a tour of Jamaica, it rained a lot one morning prior to our game. When we arrived at the venue, the groundsman was pouring kerosene oil on the wicket. He proceeded to light a match to it and started a fire. He said he was drying out the pitch.

Hobbies: Football and table tennis. The latter helped to sharpen my reflexes.

A key to your success: Dedication and patience. Two Indian Test players that I met in England taught me to put the ball on one spot. They indicated that by just moving it about from there, I would find success as most batsmen lose patience.

Advice to today’s cricketer: Be disciplined, practise often and respect umpires.

Motto you believe in: Lead by example.

‘Bummy’ shared two interesting stories with me. The first involved the traditional marching of the Cup ceremony. He emphatically stated that he never rode the horse as is customary for a winning skipper to do. “I walked with the players,” he said. Neil Paynter Sr. and Lynn Paynter used to stand behind the horse and beat their drums. When I saw that they made the horse rear up on its back legs. I told the St. George’s folks, “No Siree, don’t put me on that horse.”

The second story transpired in 1963 on day one of the classic. Somerset batted first and were all out for 63 runs. St. George’s had an hour of batting before lunch and were dismissed for 180 runs. At 5.30pm that same afternoon, Somerset were again reeling, this time the score read 30 for seven. All of a sudden Mr. Oliver Caisey made his way on to the field and told Bummy, “Ease up on these guys, as the Governor is not here yet. The president wants you to take Parfitt and Kenny Paul off the ball.”

Bummy recalled that he was going for the kill at the time and indicated that even if he took those two off the ball, that he and ‘Fleas’ (Alfred Hall) would still likely mop up the tail end.

With 6.00 o’clock being the cut-off time and only numbers 10 and 11 left to come in, the officials decided to halt the days play.

When the Governor did arrive ‘Bummy’ told Lord Martonmere, “ I don’t know who your ADC is, but you should have been down here with the players early on Emancipation Day. I think you’d better be here early tomorrow, like 9.00 o’clock. Don’t wear that hot suit but come more relaxed and let my president entertain you. And tell the ADC to do the same thing. He looks so hot in that shirt and tie.”

Lord Martonmere did come early the next day and it was a good thing, for the game finished at ten past noon with a two-to-one for St. George’s.

For those who think the Somerset line-up was lacking in quality talent, here are some of the names on that squad: ‘Mackie’ Simmons, Sheridan Raynor, Charlie Daulphin, Joe Bailey, and Carl Swan.

‘Bummy” recalls that the late ‘Slim’ Burns, owner of the Green Lantern, used to operate a stall at the game, and later told him, “Do you know how much money you cost me by having the game end so soon?”

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Published Jul 31, 2012 at 8:19 am (Updated Jul 31, 2012 at 8:19 am)

Symonds: Somerset reject but a St. George’s legend

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