Andy Ganteaume Innings Finally Over


It seemed like he was settling himself in for another famous century but in the end, Andy Ganteaume fell just short, passing at the age of 95. At the time of his death, he was the world's oldest test cricketer. More importantly though, he died as the batsman with the highest ever batting average in the game (112) and the only one with an average over 100.

Highest average ever? Surely one would have thought that honour belonged to Austalia's Donald Bradman, he of the famous 99.94 average, which only dipped below 100 because of a last innings'duck'. But no, it belongs to a relatively little known West Indian from Belmont, Trinidad, one Andrew Gordon Ganteaume. 

How can he have the highest test average of all time and not be regularly called among the best batsmen, or even West Indians, of all time you ask? Well, the case of Andy Ganteaume is a curious one. We can blame it on timing and internal politics.

Ganteaume's career was during the forties,a time when West Indian cricket was on the rise.Just after George Headley and just before the coming of the Three W's and Sir Garry. Andy was selected as an opener to replace the injured Jeffery Stollmeyer, an arguably more well known Trinidadian cricketer. He scored his century on debut, 112, against England but did not bat in the second innings as the game petered out into a draw. After that game, Andy was never selected for a Test match again.

The main reason given as to why he was never selected again is that the captain of the team, one Gerry Gomez, who has a stand named after him at the Queen's Park Oval, had given him instuctions to 'up the run rate',something he failed to do. Thus, he was dropped as punishment. Ganteaume himself says that it had more to do with the colour of his skin and his "anti-establishment' attitude, with the likes of Stollmeyer and Gomez 'running things' and seeing him as a threat to their control. In addition, due to travel time and cost, it was normal to see West Indian teams primarily made up of players from each island appearing in the island of their birth with only a few stars eing regulars in all the games.For example, in that series there were eight jamaicans on the team for the game in Jamaica and eight Trinidadians appearing in the Oval. Plus, the regular opening pair of Stollmeyer and Allan Rae were not half bad, both retiring with averages in the forties (higher than modern legends such as Chris Gayle and Desmond Haynes), thus would have been hard to displace.

These myriad number of factors combined though to give Ganteaume a bigger legacy than his first class average, a more moderate, 34.85,would have suggested. He leaves our earthly plane the holder of a record that will require a unique set of coincidences to ever be surpassed; that of the highest Test average in the history of the game. 

 


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