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Our top cricket achiever still kept out of the mix

FRED STURRUP
SPORTS SCOPE

Published: Sep 14, 2013

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The time is almost upon us again. I refer to that period each year when the Ministry of Sports presents to the Bahamian public its list of luminaries deserving of being in the National Sports Hall of Fame.

While, in this space, I have applauded the concept of a national induction forum that pays tribute to those who made valiant contributions to sports development in the country, the story with equal significance is of the great ones who have been left out of the mix.

Today, I return to the subject of Ivan Johnson.

He is known for being one of the high profile media personalities in the country. Johnson is the face of The Punch tabloid, that newspaper many Bahamians eagerly digest each Monday and Thursday. Johnson is not a friend to many in politics. In all of the political groupings, there are no doubt those who would be happy if Johnson and The Punch simply disappeared.

However, there is this other side to Johnson that many know nothing of and the politicians, seemingly, have studiously ignored.

Indeed, it has appeared through the years that the politicians from all of the respective central administrations have been opposed to the Sports Ministry honoring him with induction into the National Hall of Fame. This is one of the great travesties the Sports Ministry in The Bahamas has been associated with as it rolled out inductees year after year.

Perhaps this will be the year for Johnson.

No other Bahamian has attained the “First Class” cricket status Johnson crafted during the 1970s. Johnson’s cricket roots run deep. His grandfather Thomas Walsh was a standout. Johnson played for Worcestershire and was on two County Championship teams.

He was well regarded as several reprinted sections of London newspapers in 1973 indicate.

Once when Worcestershire beat Warwickshire, A.S.R. Winlaw wrote: “It was even money when the 58th over arrived and Warwicks required 15 to win. For this over it was the slow left arm spinner Johnson top bowl instead of the familiar seamer and in the best interest of all-round cricket in the Gillette Cup, Johnson deserved to take those last two wickets and win the match.”

Then, there was the match when Worcestershire got pipped by Nottinghamshire, by a mere three runs. The great Gary Sobers played for Nottinghamshire.

Ian Willars wrote: “Ivan Jonson, Worcestershire’s highly-promising youngster, needed to score four off the last ball to give them the match. The odds were stacked heavily against him, for holding the ball was Gary Sobers, the world’s greatest all-rounder. Johnson gave Sobers’ delivery a tremendous crack through the offside, but Mike Harris was in place to cut off the boundary.”

Johnson made just two runs. Harris saved the day for Nottingham, but our Bahamian, Johnson, proved capable of taking on Sobers. That was quite a moment in time and essentially deserving of ensuring full recognition forever, of Johnson as one of the sporting icons of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

He played cricket with the big boys and held his own.

For the record, Johnson played 33 First Class cricket matches with a runs average of 21.69, and he took 37 wickets.

He’s definitely National Hall of Fame worthy.

 

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

 


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