Wanstead v Jamaica: Caged cricket

Stephen Ramdial, facing one of the prisoners at Tower Street Prison (Picture: McLeary's Photography & Video Service, Jamaica)
Stephen Ramdial, facing one of the prisoners at Tower Street Prison (Picture: McLeary’s Photography & Video Service, Jamaica)

Last week we reported on the start of the tour of Jamaica by Wanstead and Snaresbrook Cricket Club, in aid of the Courtney Walsh foundation. The tour has now finished, but not without the team ending up in prison.

Club captain Arfan Akram reports:

“Monday 18th was one of the most amazing experiences for the group as the morning was spent at the Bob Marley Museum which was then followed by playing a cricket match against the prison inmates at Tower Street Prison, in one of the most dangerous prisons in the world. There were a few hundred inmates watching and the whole experience started anxiously but ended with much mutual respect between the inmates, guards and members of W&SCC. The Inmates batted first in a cage cricket match in a 15 overs affair match. The prisoners scored 187, with opener Mr. Linton scoring a mammoth 140*. The Herons were never really in it, and eventually lost by 30 runs. Some say losing was the safest way of escaping alive.”

A couple of days later, during which the team faced the bowling of Walsh himself, they headed for a T20 game in Negril. Akram continues:

“In typical Jamaican style, we arrived at 10.45am thinking the match would start at 11am, to be told that we were to have lunch before the match and the match will start at 1pm. So we went to [a] beautiful beach restaurant, Jack Sprats, and had lunch. We were also not told that current West Indian cricketers Jerome Taylor and Darren Powell were playing and opening the bowler, oh and also the match was being recorded for the National News. It’s fair to say we came second in a two horse race. The Treasure Beach Pirates scored 160 for 8 with Fayyaz Khan the pick of the bowlers getting both Jerome Taylor (stumped Jay Williams) and Darren Powell (caught first ball) out. Both dismissals were shown on National News TV. The Herons sadly didn’t bat as well, eventually all out for 72. However the hospitality and amazing location was definitely worth the visit.”

He added:

“The tour to Jamaica has been one of the greatest experiences, not many people can say they have played a game of cricket against prisoners in one of the most dangerous prisons in the world, let alone sit and talk to the inmates. This tour really could not have happened without the support of Michael Finlay from Ark Build Plc and Courtney Walsh. The Courtney Walsh Foundation really does go direct in to the community and work tirelessly giving positive change to those that feel have been forgotten in society.”

Courtney Walsh said: “I have visited Wanstead & Snaresbrook CC a few times in recent years including two amazing fund raising dinners and having had first hand experience of watching the amazing work they do in the local community gave me so much delight knowing they will be supporting the Foundation. I am now even more delighted that all 26 touring members have had an incredible time. Having spoke to most of the team, it really does please me that they have had such an incredible experience whilst in Jamaica. For me they are not the only ones who will have lasting memories, they touched so many hearts of those less priviliged in Jamaica these young people will never forget the visit. Already the visit has given me much motivation to continue the great work the Foundation does. I genuinly thank all the tourists and all the partners that have made the tour happen, we at the Courtney Walsh Foundation are honoured and touched and I hope our relationship continues for many years ahead.”