Former Banks Division 1 captain Garcia Atkins dies suddenly at 60
 

Barbados Cricket Association article.

Bridgetown, Barbados - Garcia Atkins, who had the honour of leading Banks to the coveted Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 title in 1986 in what was a memorable and thrilling finish to the season, has died suddenly at the age of 60.

Atkins, a heavy-set left-hand batsman known for his attacking strokeplay and whose stiff right-arm medium-pace bowling was more than handy, passed away at his home at Newton Crescent, Pine, St. Michael on Monday.

Despite suffering a massive stroke way back in early 2002, which led to him being hospitalised for three months, Atkins battled back and remained in high spirits reminiscent of the way he played the game. He had spoken with friends and family on the morning of his death, according to his mother Iris Taylor.

"Garcia made his usual telephone calls on Monday morning before my daughter Sandra found him dead in his bed around 4 p.m. He did not complain of feeling unwell," Ms. Taylor told BCAcricket.org.

Richard Holder, a long-standing team-mate and former fellow employee at Banks in an era when the vast majority of the team consisted of employees of the popular Brewery, described Atkins as "a very nice fellow with a good upbringing".

"Though limited as a batsman, he liked cricket very much. He always saw himself as a leader and wanted to captain Banks. At that time we had a good team," Holder told BCAcricket.org.

Also known as Garcia Taylor in the 1970s when he played in the Intermediate division before making his First division (rebranded Elite division from 2012) debut during that decade, Atkins will also be remembered for his trademark smile as he sported a gold-capped tooth.

Following Banks' 1986 success, he captained the side again for the next two seasons, with the Brewery men finishing third in 1987 and second last among 12 teams in 1988, which was his last as a First division player. 

The late, great West Indies fast bowler Malcolm Marshall also played for Banks and was a member of the 1987 and 1988 sides, which made Atkins very proud to skipper him, albeit for only one First division match in each season because of International as well as English County duties.

Significantly, the 1986 Banks team included three pairs of brothers - Richard and Junior Holder; Clyde and Keith Beckles; and Arnold and Feliston Gilkes. Clyde Beckles, a former Barbados player, died in 2001 at the age of 52.

The other members of that 1986 squad were Adrian Ashby, George Brathwaite, Barry Callender, Leeson Brewster, Charles "Tailor" Griffith, Lewis Spooner, Edward Bascombe, John Brathwaite and Ronald Callender.

That season, Atkins played in all 11 matches, scoring 204 runs with a highest of 36, at an average of 11.33, but he topped his team's bowling averages, picking up 15 wickets at 8.20 runs apiece from 53.3 overs.

It was in the very last series when Banks needed an outright win against Maple at The Brewery with four teams in contention for the title that Atkins made his mark with the ball en route to a 36-run success as they dramatically won the title with 41 points, edging out second placed Wanderers by one point. 

Atkins shared the new ball with Richard Holder and grabbed six for 16 off 12.1 overs in the first innings as Maple were fired out for a paltry 49 in reply to Banks' 113 for seven declared. Holder took three for 18 off 11 overs.

Banks made 141 for eight declared in the second innings, and set 206 to win, Maple fell for 169 as left-arm spinner Griffith snatched six for 60.

Banks had gone into that last round in third position on 33 points with Pickwick at the top on 39, followed by the Barbados Cricket League (BCL) on 34 and Wanderers, 32.

As it turned out, Wanderers beat Pickwick, who did not even pick up a point, by seven wickets at Dayrells Road to finish on 40 points, and BCL played to a thrilling tie with YMPC at Blenheim 'A', to end fourth on 38 points. 

Holder said he would always remember that last match and the happy feeling in the Banks camp since it was only their third First division title with the other two coming back-to-back in 1978 and 1979 (shared with Spartan).

"It was one of those times where if the pitch was rain-affected, a guy like Garcia would get wickets because he was a stiff medium-pacer with little movement," Richard Holder recalled.

"He always used to bowl relatively straight and was useful on rain-affected surfaces.

An elegant batsman and swing bowler, Holder was one of the architects of Banks' 1986 success, taking 47 wickets - the most in the team - at 13.68 runs each from 314 overs.

Holder, who was also a Barbados Under-19 team batsman in the mid 1970s, reflected on a splendid century Atkins made for Banks in a Division 1 match against Pickwick at Kensington Oval.

"Garcia was a hard-hitting batsman mainly at the top before going to the middle later in his career. I recalled him scoring a century (142) off Pickwick at Kensington Oval in the late 1970s against an attack including the likes of Arthur Bethell (a former Barbados captain), Hallam Gill and Steve Marshall and he struck a lot of boundaries.

"On his day he would destroy any kind of bowling. He had some bright sparks and as captain he had players around him who knew cricket and could guide him," Holder asserted.

"In those days, employees of Banks who played cricket, talked about the game at every turn from the lunch room to the field, whether it was local, regional or international."

Born February 4, 1953 at St. David, Christ Church, Atkins was educated at the now defunct St. David Primary School. He also worshipped at St. David Anglican Church and worked at Banks for over three decades. He was the father of two sons and one daughter. His father, Rudolph Taylor died two years ago.

Apart from his mother Iris Taylor, he is survived by one brother, Lawson, who works for the United Nations and resides in The Congo, and two sisters - Sandra Taylor and Marcia Morris.

First Published On bcacricket.org.

Date: 
Thu, 11/28/2013 - 19:46