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Ewart Marcelle cards 90; a role model when we were young and free-spirited and used to wear flannels…

It is in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that we learn that the evil that men do lives after them but the good is oft interred with their bones. Far be it from me to gainsay the bard but I note without surprise that an “oft” is carefully inserted in his statement precisely to allow for the fate of good teachers; the good that they do lives long after them.

One such is Ewart Marcelle.

Photo: A happy birthday display

Far be it from me too to suggest that Ewart’s bones are about to be interred. I am told that he reached 90 on 21 March and celebrated the occasion with a big bash at the Chaguaramas Golf Club on the following weekend. I congratulate him and look forward to his getting to the century. Should I be fortunate enough to be still around, I shall be among those applauding lustily if and when he does. It is no more than Ewart, who has had the misfortune to bury both his sons, Lisle and Kenneth, as well as a third child, Lerlyn, deserves.

In the Trinidad and Tobago of the 21st Century, the quota of threescore and ten mentioned in the Good Book is much more than many of our citizens get. I imagine that precious few of the some 150 people who have already lost their lives in the current calendar year were on the far side of that line of demarcation.

Much of what I heard said in tribute to Mr Marcelle mentioned golf, a sport he took up late in life and became more than proficient at. And it was not just as player that he served that game; it seems that he also gave yeoman service as an administrator.

But ask anyone who attended Tranquillity or any of the colleges around Port-of-Spain in the 1960’s and 1970’s and you will be told without fear of successful contradiction that that contribution was but a drop in the bucket of what he contributed to Trinidad and Tobago. There is a cricket story that I think will bear me out.

The QRC Under-16’s were playing against Tranquillity at Pompeii, officially George V Park, much later to be dubbed Nelson Mandela Park. Bernard Julien, who would go on to represent St Mary’s, Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies and make a century at Lord’s, was in those days the big-reputation player at Tranquil. He was the one you needed to get early if you hoped to go on to victory.

Photo: Bernard Julien drives to leg as England wicketkeeper Alan Knott looks on. (Courtesy espncricinfo.com)

He offers an expansive drive at an outswinger from Narendra Maharaj, the QRC skipper, feathers it and Tony “Surety” Lewis snaffles the catch behind the stumps.

BJ stands his ground. It would be flattering to say that we Royalians in our mid-teens are disciplined enough to appeal once; in fact, it might well be that we appeal 40 or 50 times in the seconds immediately following what we are absolutely certain is the dismissal. BJ is a big, big, big fish and we display excitement to match.

“Bernard,” Mr Marcelle, the standing umpire, asks, his tone even but his displeasure barely concealed, “did you play that ball?”

The response is a barely audible monosyllable but the body language is unambiguous, eloquent even.

“Well, then,” comes the reply, a shot from a high-powered rifle, “why are you still standing there?”

Moise (rhymes with Boyce) trudges off, his chin sunk deep in the middle of his chest. I don’t remember the result of the game but I shall never forget Mr Marcelle’s glare of disapproval and the very public talking-to he gave the then young all-rounder at the water break.

Those were the days just after the publication of CLR James’ Beyond a Boundary, the days when the three words ‘it’s not cricket’ still meant something. Nowadays, in the Age of the Mercenary, they mean much less and getting the favourable result seems to be all that matters.

So I am certain that Ewart was appalled by the recent events in Cape Town. And I suspect that he had been equally appalled when Ian Bishop defended the West Indian Under-19’s on their successful appeal to secure a handled-the-ball dismissal during the last Under-19 World Cup in India.

Photo: Australia opening batsman Cameron Bancroft is caught on camera trying to hide the material he used to tamper with the ball during the Third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

“I was surprised that my articulation and defense of the West Indies Under 19 teams were quoted quite tastelessly as “a mouthful” in your article,” Bishop wrote in an email. “I am struggling to make the connection between what I felt was an appropriate view of the act within the laws of the game, and a brazen act of illegality against the laws of the game and what people deem the “spirit of the game” as committed by the Australian team.”

“…an appropriate view of the act within the laws of the game”? “What people deem the “spirit of the game”? What know they of cricket who only cricket know?

I already know that Valentino Singh, who captained QRC in the 1970’s, disagrees with him. I feel certain that Brian Lara, who captained Fatima in the 1980’s, disagrees with him. I feel equally certain that Julien, who captained CIC in the 1960’s, disagrees with him.

It is clear to me that the country would have been a better place if there had been more Mr Marcelles to go around in the good old days.

And were there a few of them around in the bad new days that we are living through now.

But Ewart has given his all and, on behalf of BJ, Surety, Narendra and all the hundreds of others, including me, on whom he has left his mark, I express the hope that he will take a new guard and put his head down so that he can get to his century in singles.

Photo: Ewart Marcelle celebrates his 90th birthday at the Chaguaramas Golf Club on March 25, 2018.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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6 comments

  1. Happy birthday Mr Marcelle. I vividly remember playing a round of golf with you when I hosted you at Randpark Golfclub johannesburg. I was amazed that a man over 80 walked the course . You are a legend .
    May the Lord give you strength as you walk the 90s.
    Rgds Mlamli Booi ( Gillian’s South African family friend)

  2. I remember Mr. Marcelle when I attended Tranquillity Boys Government School in the early sixties. Passing through his hands made you a better student and person. Of course, those were the days when teaching was a vocation more than a profession. I think he was half of an identical twin, which is not surprising. Such human excellence could not be contained in one mortal body. Happy belated birthday Mr. Marcelle. May you live to be a hundred and more. The world deserves it.