Gerry Gomez: West Indies cricket’s Portuguese connection

Gerry Gomez was still five months shy of his 17th birthday when his name first appeared in a published scorecard from a cricket match.

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Gerry Gomez © Getty Images
Gerry Gomez © Getty Images

The roots of this narrative lie in the archipelagos of Madeira in northern Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa, and southwest of Portugal, and the Azores, also in the northern Atlantic Ocean, west of continental Portugal, both off-shore autonomous regions of Portugal. Dr Jo-Anne Ferreira, Lecturer in Linguistics, University of West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad, elaborates on this theme.

From her extensive research, she has constructed a timeline for the Portuguese influx into Trinidad and Tobago. It goes something like this:

1834: The Watchful from the Azores, first of four ships (with 44 passengers) arrives in Trinidad on July 20 (the first Portuguese to come as labourers in the Caribbean and Guyana).

1834: The Stralhista from Madeira leaves on November 12 with 28 passengers (25 males and three females from Funchal, Machico, Santa Cruz, Calheta and Porto Santo) bound for Trinidad.

1834: The English ship Eweretta leaves Madeira with 16 former convicts contracted to work in Trinidad from November 23.

1835: The English ship Portland with 32 passengers (29 males and three females) aboard leaves for Trinidad on February 11.

1846Senator from Madeira (219 passengers) arrives in Trinidad on May 9.

1846William of Glasgow from Madeira (197 Presbyterian refugees) arrives on September 16 and are welcomed by the Greyfriars Church of Scotland.

1846Lord Seaton from Madeira (200 passengers) arrives on October 9

1846Peru from Madeira (160 refugees) arrives on November 8

1846Dalhousie from Madeira (216 refugees) arrives on November 13

1847Dalhousie from Madeira (267 passengers) arrives on November 9

And so it went, with shiploads of Portuguese Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Presbyterians from these archipelagos pouring into Trinidad and Tobago either in search of economic progress or in a bid to escape religious persecution. These immigrants had gradually spread out to other parts of the British Caribbean regions, settling in as migrant labourers.

With time, they integrated with the locals and became established citizens, excelling in many fields of endeavour, sport being one such area. Cultures merged, and a new ethos came into being as the spirit of nationalism spread.

This story concerns a member of a Trinidad family of Portuguese origin, and begins with the birth of a son to the family of the Inter Colonial cricketer J Egerton Gomez on October 10, 1919, at Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad. The child was christened Gerald Ethridge, ‘Gerry’ to one and all.


A newsletter under the auspices of The National Sporting Archives of Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry of Sport, states: “His (cricketing) potential was obvious from his days at Queen’s Royal College where he benefited from the coaching of Australian Test player Arthur Richardson.”

Gerry was still five months shy of his 17th birthday when his name first appeared in a published scorecard from a cricket match, playing for North Trinidad under the leadership of Clifford Roach. In his only innings Gerry scored 20. Playing for the opposition were Elias and wicketkeeper Ossie Constantine, brothers of the great Learie. Playing on the same team as Gomez was Rupert Tang Choon. The game was drawn.

Gomez was on the verge of his 18th birthday when he made his First-Class debut, for Trinidad against British Guiana (BG), in the final of the 1937-38 Inter-Colonial Tournament. Gomez scored 15 and 39 in a match that BG won by 2 wickets, Roach bowing out of First-Class cricket as defeated skipper.

In a career spanning 1937-38 to 1957, Gerry Gomez played 126 First-Class matches in all, including 29 Tests. He aggregated 6,764 runs with a highest of 216 not out, and averaged 43.63 with the bat. He scored 14 centuries and 29 fifties, and held 92 catches. He also took 200 wickets at 25.26, and with best figures of 9 for 24. He had 5 five-wicket hauls and 2 ten-wicket hauls. His figures speak of a solid and dependable all-rounder.

Gomez scored his maiden First-Class century (119) in 1938, for RS Grant’s XI against BG, but it was really his 161 for Trinidad against Jamaica in 1938-39 put him in serious consideration for the England tour of 1939. Jamaica skipper George Headley scored an immaculate 160 in the same match.

As often happens, preparations for the proposed tour to England were not lacking in drama. This time, the issue was the inclusion of fast bowler Leslie Hylton of dubious fame. He had not been an original choice, and it was only after considerable pressure and assurances from the Jamaica lobby that Hylton’s expenses would be paid by public subscription that Hylton found himself on the boat, though the tour coffers were still about £400 short of his projected expenses for the tour.

Gomez found himself selected as an all-rounder for this, the fourth West Indies Test tour (third Test-playing tour) of England. It must be said that in the company of Learie Constantine, Manny Martindale, ‘Foffie’ Williams, Leslie Hylton, and Tyrell Johnson, his fast-medium bowling was not very much in evidence on the tour.

West Indies played only 3 Tests. Gomez was not selected for the first Test at Lord’s that England won by 8 wickets. It would, perhaps, not be an exaggeration to say that there was one member of the touring team that won the admiration and the hearts of all discerning cricket aficionados of England on this tour. Headley scored a century in each innings of the game (106 and 107), the first man and the only touring batsman to perform this feat till date. He, of course, was no stranger to twin centuries in a Test, having scored 114 and 112 against England in 1929-30.

Gomez made his Test debut in the second Test at Old Trafford in along with his compatriot Williams. Gomez made a modest debut, scoring 0 and 11 in a drawn game. In the third Test at The Oval, another drawn game, West Indies batted only once, Gomez scoring 11. He had a rather unimposing tour in England in 1939. He did not bowl in any of the 19 First-Class games he played in and scored a total of 719 runs with a highest of 90 and an average of 25.67.

With the threat of War looming, the tour had to be cut short, the last 7 scheduled matches being hastily cancelled. The West Indies team had been scheduled to end their tour with a game against Ireland, and then to make the Atlantic crossing on the Athenia. The truncation of the tour proved to be a blessing for the tourists as the Athenia turned out to be the first ship torpedoed by the Germans at the outbreak of hostilities.

Back home in the Caribbean, life went on, and, with it, cricket. Gomez had a good match against Barbados in 1941-42, scoring 37 and 133*. The match saw two of a future triumvirate of future West Indian masters make their respective debuts: Clyde Walcott batted up the order and scored 8 and 0, whilst Frank Worrell, in the team mainly as a bowler, batted deep down the order, scoring 29 and 6.

Playing for Trinidad against Barbados in 1942-43, Gomez scored 216 not out, his highest. Trinidad lost their second wicket at 36, but Gomez joined his friend Jeff Stollmeyer and the two put on a stand of 185. The hosts won the game by 10 wickets, the brothers combining to achieve the target.

In his very next game, against the same opponents, Gomez scored 117, this time sharing a third-wicket stand of 183 runs with Vic Stollmeyer. The drawn game was enriched by a masterly century by Worrell (188), and a more workmanlike effort of 101 not out from Barbadian John Goddard.


Gomez’s second double-century was against Barbados as well, at Port of Spain, in 1945-46. By now, Barbados had been strengthened by the addition to the ranks of Everton Weekes, and the three Ws all played in this game. In the Barbados second innings, Weekes, opening the innings, had been dismissed for a duck, and 3 wickets had fallen for 45 runs. From there on, the score had mounted to 619 for 3 with Walcott contributing an undefeated 314 and Frank Worrell remaining not out on a stylish 255. The unfinished fourth-wicket stand of 574 runs would remain a First-Class record until it was overtaken by the 577 run fourth-wicket stand between Vijay Hazare (288) and Gul Mohammad (319) for Baroda against Holkar at Baroda in 1946-47.


It may be mentioned here that this game saw Worrell becoming the only batsman to participate in two 500-run partnerships in First-Class cricket, having earlier been involved in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 502 with Goddard (218*) for Barbados against Trinidad 1943-44, Worrell remaining undefeated on 308 on the previous occasion.

After the deluge of runs, the first wicket of the Trinidad fell at 41 when skipper Vic Stollmeyer was out. There followed a second-wicket stand of 207 between Andy Ganteaume (85) and Ken Trestrail (151). Next man in, Gomez, remained not out at the end of the innings for 213, as Trinidad finished at 576 for 8 when time ran out.

When England came calling in 1947-48 with a rather aged team under Gubby Allen, West Indies won 2 of the 4 Tests and drew the other 2.

The first Test at Bridgetown provided cricket trivia lovers with an interesting situation. For the first and only time in his illustrious career, Headley found himself leading the West Indies team. Cricket historians feel that though the prevalent custom of the times had been to nominate a skipper from the island where the Test was to be played, it is probable that Barbados did not have a player of sufficient stature and seniority at the time, and Headley was chosen as skipper.

In the visitors’ camp, with Allen indisposed (it is reported that he had slipped and fallen on the deck, damaging his legs, while skipping to keep himself fit on the voyage coming over), Ken Cranston found himself going out to toss in the capacity of Test captain for the only time in his career. Worrell withdrew late from the team, being down with food poisoning.

Jeff Stollmeyer came out with ’keeper Walcott to open the innings. West Indies scored 244 for 3 on the first day, Stollmeyer having being dismissed for 78, and Gomez batting on 85 along with Headley on 29. Jim Laker, making his Test debut, then made his mark on the match on the second day after two sharp showers had freshened up the wicket, picking up the rest of the wickets to finish with 7 for 103 from 37 overs. Gomez top-scored with 86 while Headley was dismissed on his overnight score as the total reached 296.  England made rather heavy weather of their first-innings total of 253.

There were two noteworthy events in the West Indies total of 351 for 9. Robert Christiani, batting in spectacles, and going very well, was unfortunate to be dismissed for 99, becoming the second man (after Arthur Chipperfield) to be dismissed for 99 on Test debut (Asim Kamal is the only other one to have done this).

The other event was the unique and spectacular display of pyrotechnics from the bat of Williams. Let us hear about it from the Almanac report: “Williams again dominated the cricket the following morning; the total was 144 for five wickets when he came in and proceeded to hit the first four deliveries he received — all from Laker — for 6, 6, 4, 4. His next two scoring strokes were 4, 4, off the next over (from) the same end bowled by Ikin. It is doubtful whether in the whole history of Test cricket anyone previously started with two 6s and four 4s. Altogether Williams made 72 out of 96 added for the sixth wicket with Christiani in sixty-three minutes.” Rain, however, ensured that the Test ended in a draw.

Gomez played another defining innings shortly afterwards, for Trinidad against MCC. Allen put the hosts in. Trinidad lost their first wicket at 32. Ganteaume (101) then combined with Trestrail (53) in a 144-run stand. After Ganteaume was dismissed at 192, Gomez (178*) and Tang Choon (103) took the total to 434, Trinidad finally declaring at 481 for 4.

It was a different duo that went out to toss in the second Test match that got underway at Port of Spain. For England, it was Allen, now restored to full health and fitness. For West Indies, it was Gomez for the only time in the capacity of national skipper.

Although this Test was a drawn affair, it was witness to a number of interesting statistical feats. All four opening batsmen scored centuries (debutant Billy Griffith and Jack Robertson for England, George Carew and Ganteaume — the cricket statistician’s delight — for West Indies) in this Test, the only time in Test history that this has been done till date. West Indies reached 497, skipper Gomez contributing 62.

There was another change of personnel for the West Indies captaincy when the third Test got underway at Georgetown, with Goddard spinning the coin for the home team. Worrell scored a hundred to take West Indies to 297’; Gomez got 36.

England fared poorly in their first innings, being dismissed for 111, Len Hutton (a late reinforcement in the England team consequent upon Denis Brookes of the original party breaking a finger) top-scored with 31 while. Goddard took 5 for 31. England followed on and were all out for 263. This time it was Wilf Ferguson, with 5 for 116, that took most of the wickets. West Indies lost 3 wickets in reaching the winning target.

West Indies wrapped up the series 2-0 by winning the fourth Test at Kingston by 10 wickets. England were dismissed for 227. The West Indies attack was spearheaded by two debutants in Hines Johnson and Esmond Kentish, and both of them more than justified their selection, Johnson taking 5 for 41 and Kentish weighing in with 2 for 38. The home team replied with 490, Weekes scoring 141, his maiden Test century.


The England second innings total of 336 contained a century from Winston Place (107). For the home team, Johnson made his mark in the record books by claiming his second 5-wicket haul in his debut Test, taking 5 for 55, and joined the ranks of the 15 bowlers who have taken 10 or more wickets in their debut Tests. West Indies won by 10 wickets.

Events originating in another country resulted in West Indies making their first ever tour to India. On January 21, 1948, the Australian cricket authorities expressed their inability to accept the invitation to tour the Caribbean Islands in view of their impending Ashes tour of England in 1948 and the later tour of South Africa in 1949-50. Goddard was named captain of the touring team with Gomez as his deputy. As is well-documented, the tour proved to be a personal triumph for Weekes, but more of that later.

West Indies batted first in the first Test at Delhi, and lost Alan Rae (8), Jeff Stollmeyer (13), and the ageing Headley (2) in quick time. Walcott (152) and Gomez (101, his only Test century) then had a profitable fourth-wicket stand of 267, after which Walcott was run out. Gomez continued in the company of Goddard (44) until he was out at the total of 302. Everton Weekes (128, his second century in consecutive innings), and Christiani (107) got hundreds as well in a total of 631 for 8, while Commandur Rangachari took 5 for 107.

Hemu Adhikari scored a robust 114 not out in the home innings of 454 while KC Ibrahim contributed 85. India followed on, finishing on 220 for 6 when the game ended in a draw.

Alan Rae scored 104 in the second Test at Bombay before Weekes took things in hand, scoring 194 (his third century in consecutive Test innings) and allowing Godard to declare at 629 for 6, Gomez scoring 7.

The home team scored 273. Gomez opened bowling Prior Jones and took 2 for 32. Surprisingly, and given the Indian batsmen’s general proficiency in playing spin bowling, Ferguson, the leg-spinner, took 4/126.  India followed on, finishing on 333 for 3 when the Test ended in a draw. Rusi Modi (112) and Vijay Hazare (134*) did the bulk of the scoring.

The scene shifted to Calcutta and the scenic Eden Gardens for the third. Weekes scored 162 (making it four in four) in a total of 366. Gomez then opened bowling Jones and picked up 3 for 65. Having ended Day Two on 204 for 2, India lost 8 wickets for 68 runs on the third day and were bowled out for 272.

It was Weekes and a partially-fit Walcott this time for West Indies, each scoring a century of contrasting styles. Weekes’ 101 turned out to be his fifth century in consecutive Test innings, a feat that is unparalleled till date. Walcott scored 108 while Gomez got 29. West left India a winning target of 431. However, India saved the Test again, scoring 325 for 3, Mushtaq Ali stole the batting limelight with an innings of 106 before Modi (87) and Hazare (58*) did the rest.

Against South Zone Gomez achieved his best bowling figures in First-Class cricket, claiming 9 for 24 in the first-innings total of 46. John Trim took the other wicket. Gomez took 2 more wickets in the second innings.

The fourth Test was played at Madras. By now, Gomez was shouldering a larger bowling load and gradually dropping lower down the batting order. Stollmeyer (160) forged a solid stand with the dashing Rae (109) and West Indies closed Day One at 315 for 1. For a while, it seemed that the Weekes fairytale would continue in this Test as well. It was not to be, however, as he was run out for 90 in this innings, a rather dodgy decision, in the opinion of some. Dattu Phadkar shone with ball, picking up 7 for 159. West Indies finished at 582, Gomez contributing a round 50 from No. 7.

India were bowled out for 245, Gomez taking a wicket for 60. Following on, they were dismissed for 144, Gomez picking up 3 for 35, Jones 4 for 30, and Trim 3 for 28 (to go with his 4 for 48 in the first innings). West Indies won the Test quite emphatically by an innings and 193 runs.

The fifth Test at Bombay ended in a draw, giving West Indies a 1-0 series victory despite an excellent chase from Modi, Hazare, Amarnath and Phadkar

The fourth Test-playing tour of England by West Indies in the summer of 1950 turned out to be a watershed for both sides in terms of the result of the series. It was also quite a profitable venture for the tourists. It was reported that “the cost of sending the team to England (was) $5760 per head with weekly allowances of $24. The costs were met in proportion (of) one-third by Trinidad and Jamaica (each) and one-sixth (each) by British Guiana and Barbados.”

Even so, the tour made a profit of £30,000. The team were in for a disappointment on arrival at Southampton, however, when Customs officials deprived them of a gift from well-wishing West Indian supporters in the form of 96 bottles of rum. Skipper Goddard tried to explain to the officials that rum was regarded as food in the Caribbean islands. The Customs officials, however, stuck to their stand: “We think it’s drink.”

English batsmen were taken unawares by Alf Valentine (33 wickets in 4 games at 20.42) and Sonny Ramadhin (26 wickets in 4 games at 23.23), both on the tour having played only 2 First-Class matches each.

Nor were the batsmen lagging behind. Worrell led the way with 539 runs from 4 Tests at 89.83 including a magnificent 261 at Trent Bridge. Rae compiled 377 at 62.83, while his fellow opener Stollmeyer aggregated 305 at 50.83. Weekes (338 at 56.33) and Walcott (229 at 45.80) were well-supported by senior player Gomez (207 at 41.40).


Valentine’s 8 for 104 in his very first experience of bowling in a Test set the tone for the series notwithstanding the fact that England won the first Test by 202 runs. The visitors then proceeded to win the next 3 Tests in a row; by 326 runs at Lord’s, by 10 wickets at Trent Bridge, and by an innings and 56 runs at The Oval.

Weekes would later write: “It was the first time we had defeated the English in England and we were aware of the implications of the victory in terms of its history and politics. It was the end of the Empire as far as we were concerned. London Bridge had fallen down.”

In the 100th issue of the Caribbean Beat, dated November/December 2009, Garry Steckles recalls the history of the immortal calypso Cricket, Lovely Cricket. It was in 1948 that the vessel Windrush had stopped for a few days at Kingston on the way back to England from Australia. About 500 Jamaicans had boarded the ship, paying the equivalent of £28 and 10 shillings per head. In this group were two Trinidadian calypsonians, Aldwyn Roberts (Lord Kitchener) and Egbert Moore (Lord Beginner). They were part of the first wave of Caribbean immigrants into Britain in the aftermath of World War II.

There is some uncertainty about the actual authorship of the iconic calypso, the honours sometimes being attributed to Beginner and sometime to Kitchener”. It was on the day after the Lord’s victory that the story broke in the Daily Telegraph and the Morning Post under the headline “Calypsos sung at Lord’s”. Let us hear about it from Kitchener himself: “After we won the match, I took my guitar and I call a few West Indians, and I went around the cricket field singing. And I had an answering chorus behind me and we went around the field singing and dancing. So, while we’re dancing, up come a policeman and arrested me. And while he was taking me out of the field, the English people boo him. They said, ‘Leave him alone! Let him enjoy himself. They won the match, let him enjoy himself.’”

Gomez ended the England tour of 1950 on a rather high note, scoring 149 and 88 against Kent and 117 against Minor Counties. There is no record of Gomez playing First-Class cricket in 1950-51. After the overwhelming 4-0 demolition of England by Don Bradman’s Invincibles in 1948 and the unprecedented 3-1 series victory by West Indies over England in 1950, a Test series between Australia and West Indies seemed to be in order to determine the ‘unofficial’ cricket champions.

Gerry Gomez batting in the nets on the 1950 tour of England; keeping wickets is Clyde Walcott © Getty Images
Gerry Gomez batting in the nets on the 1950 tour of England; keeping wickets is Clyde Walcott © Getty Images

On October 5, 1950, the Australian cricket authorities issued an invitation to the West Indies Board of Cricket Control for a Test tour to Australia in 1951-52. In the initial itinerary, there had been provision for only 1 First-Class game before the Tests. However, 2 more practice games were later added, one of them a testimonial game for legendary scorer and baggage-man Bill Ferguson that raised £700 for the veteran.

We find Gomez scoring 34 and 97* against Queensland, and also opening the bowling with Trim and taking 3 wickets in the first innings. Queensland, however, won by 10 wickets. For many of the touring party, including Gomez, this was the first experience of playing First-Class cricket on Australian soil.

In many ways, the series turned out to be a disappointment from the cricketing point of view, the scoreline reading 4-1 in favour of Australia in the 5-Test series. The visitors could win only 1 of the 6 matches against the state teams.

Playing on hard, bouncy wickets of Australia for the first time, Ramadhin and Valentine found themselves out of their depths, and the batsmen were found wanting against the fast and ferocious bowling of Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall, backed up superbly by the varying skills of Bill Johnston.

The overall standard of fielding of West Indies, however, proved to be the biggest disappointment, coming from such a group of naturally talented athletes. The captaincy of Goddard was often called into question, particularly from the point of view of strategy and field placing, many of the senior players being uncomfortable with the tactics employed.

Among all these negative attributes with regard to the performance of the West Indies team as a whole, they found a stalwart in Gomez. Wisden, not given to the use of over-enthusiastic hyperbole, had this to say about Gomez: “In tenacity and concentration none surpassed Gomez, who headed the Test averages in batting and virtually in bowling. His seven wickets for 55 in 18 overs in the Fifth Test at Sydney, where intense heat and humidity was enough to sap the energy of the most hardy, crowned for him a splendid series, but the batsmen did not maintain the grip his bowling had brought to the side.”


For the record, here are the top three performers with the bat for West Indies on the tour:

– Worrell: 337 runs at 33.70

– Stollmeyer: 328 runs at 32.80

– Gomez: 324 runs from at 36

In the bowling department, the top three performers for West Indies were:

– Valentine: 24 wickets at 28.79

– Gomez: 18 wickets at 14.22

– Worrell: 17 wickets at 19.35

West Indies won the first Test against New Zealand (the first ever between the two teams) by 5 wickets and drew the other, finishing the 7-Test tour with a final score-sheet of 2 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw. In the final analysis, it was not a happy tour for West Indies, nor for skipper Goddard, who fell out of favour with the powers that be and suffered a three-year long lay-off from the National side.

The tour ended on a somewhat whimsical note when, for the first time in his long and varied career, Ferguson lost track of a bag, his own, later locating it within 24 hours from Sydney.

India made their first ever Test tour to West Indies in early 1953, playing a 5-Test series. Four of the Tests ended in draws, the home team winning the second Test at Bridgetown by 142 runs. The visors enjoyed their only success of the tour in their match against Jamaica, winning by 6 wickets. Gomez had a poor series the bat, aggregating a mere 62 runs from 5 at 12.42. However, his 11 wickets came at 31.90.

When England flew out from Heathrow on December 14, 1953, it was the first time that an England team was flying to an away destination for a tour. Hutton was appointed as the first professional captain for an overseas tour.

The tour was marred by several umpiring incidents and crowd dissatisfaction, and tested the mettle and sang-froid of players and management of both teams to the limits.The performance of both teams suffered from these external factors and neither of the teams seemed to gain any substantial advantage. The final scoreline of 2 victories to each team and 1 drawn Test was testimony to that.

Gomez scored a modest 126 runs at 21 and took 7 wickets at 37.57. The fifth Test at Kingston was the last bow for the 35-year old Gomez as far as Test cricket was concerned, and he left the big stage with scores of 4 and 22, but did not take any wickets as England won the Test by 9 wickets. A slim and boyish young 17-year old left arm spinner named Garry Sobers made his debut in this Test.

Gomez played his last First-Class game in England, turning out for MCC against Oxford in 1957. He scored 31 in each innings and rounded off a long First-Class career with exactly 200 wickets (2 wickets in the first innings helped him to reach the landmark).

Recognition and honour for his myriad attributes began to be showered upon Gomez’s. He was honoured with Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold (for Sport) in 1974. In 1985, in a simple ceremony, Gomez was inducted into the Trinidad & Tobago Sports Hall of Fame. The grateful nation of Trinidad and Tobago issued a commemorative postage stamp of denomination $1.50 on June 6, 1988. He also received Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold (for Community Service) in 1996.

Through most of his Test career, Gomez had had the privilege of playing alongside players of extraordinary calibre, to the extent that his contribution often paled against those of his more gifted team-mates. John Arlott, once summed up the capabilities of Gomez in these wise words: “on the few occasions when [his] colleagues failed, [he] made good the deficiency without any great return of glory”.

The phrase “without any great return of glory” sums up the contribution of this somewhat self-effacing, no-nonsense and undemonstrativeworkhorse of the West Indian team during his playing days.

Gomez was appointed manager for the 1960-61 tour of Australia that produced the first ever tie in the history of Test cricket. Wisden had this to say about Gerry’s appointment as manager for this tour: “his leadership qualities came through later. When he was appointed manager for the 1960-61 tour of Australia, CLR James said it was a brilliant selection — Gerry is popular at home and in Australia, knowledgeable and tough. The tour was a triumph and Gomez was an important behind-the-scenes influence in ensuring harmony.”

Gomez was a long-serving member of the West Indies Cricket Board and President of the West Indies Cricket Umpires’ Association, (a body that he had been instrumental in forming) for 30 years. A man of many sporting and organisational talents, Gomez played football for Trinidad, and became a Vice-President of the country’s Football and Tennis Associations, Executive Member of the Olympic Association, President of the Boy Scouts movement and Chairman of the annual music festival. As a footballer he played at inside-forward and represented Trinidad in BG in 1946 and Jamaica in 1947. In short, the many and varied feathers in his illustrious hat would form a very impressive bouquet.

The story of Gomez would not be complete without mention of his single stint in the long white coat in Test cricket. The Australians were touring West Indies in 1964-65 and Gomez, a senior statesman of West Indian cricket by then, was Chairman of Selectors.

Controversy, never very far from the surface in Caribbean cricket over the years, reared its ugly head with respect to the nomination of umpires for the third Test at Georgetown. The original choice of personnel for this particular Test had been Cortez Jordan of Barbados and local man Cecil Kippins. The local Umpires’ Association of Guyana felt affronted at the nomination of a Barbadian for the Test at Bourda, feeling that two local umpires should have been given the responsibility.

The Association prevailed upon Kippins to withdraw on the eve of the Test, creating a major diplomatic and logistic problem for the organisers. Gomez, a qualified umpire, but one who had never ever officiated in even a First-Class match before, stepped into the breach, and walked to the middle in the company of Jordan so that the Test could get underway, albeit 10 minutes behind schedule.

Always an active and sports loving man in his life, Gomez passed away from a heart attack when playing tennis at Port of Spain on August 6, 1996, aged 76.

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