Legendary Antiguan cricket legend Sir Sydney Walling died last Thursday, October 8, at the age of 102 and there has been at outpouring of tributes from all levels of society to the “grandfather of Antigua and Barbuda cricket.” He is remembered, above all, as “a cricketer who used his outstanding ability in a time of discrimination to further the rights of ordinary black cricketers.”
In one of his debut matches for Antigua, Sir Sydney knocked a masterful 156 in a trial against Guyana and yet was never selected to join the West Indies senior team because he hailed from Antigua. Despite the setback, he would go on to pioneer a number of firsts, including being the first black captain of Antigua’s national team in 1933. He also captained the Leeward Islands team, and was a part of the original Combined Islands team in the early 50s. Away from the cricket field, Sir Sydney set the standard for business professionals as he worked his way from being a lowly messenger for the post office in 1922 to becoming the nation’s first black post master in 1947. He also made his mark as a talented musician, playing the baritone horn in a local band and directing his church’s junior choir for 37 years. He was also the country’s postmaster and an active Scout leader. Walling’s contributions to his country did not go unnoticed. A stand at the Antigua Recreation Ground and the highway leading to the recently built Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, have been named in his honour.
Many commentators have credited Sir Sydney with paving the way for many of the legends of West Indies cricket, including Antigua’s own Sir Vivian Richards. In a report published by the CMC, Sir Vivian said that Sir Sydney had believed in him from a very young age and gave him a great deal of support to follow through with his dreams. “He would have seen at the time with me as a young individual trying to make my mark and he did express that one day some of the things that I did achieve later in life, these things would be accomplished and I’ll always give him credit for that,” the living legend said in remembrance.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Hon. Baldwin Spencer said in an official statement after Sir Sydney’s passing that the man’s contributions to the nation cannot be over emphasized. “Sir Sydney’s work over the years has positively shaped the lives of many Antiguans and Barbudans. He will always remain as an inspiration to those who want to give service to their country…He will be missed dearly.” Spencer said that he planned to have an official funeral to honour the man’s many contributions to Antigua and Barbuda.
For the original report go to http://www.sknvibes.com/Sports/NewsDetails.cfm/2225
Photo: Sir Sydney Walling (left) is in the company of the former Governor General Sir James Carlisle after receiving his insignia signalling his entry into the company of those who have received one of the country’s most prestigious honours. http://www.antiguaobserver.com/observer_wp/?p=11617