Former Guyana and West Indies cricketer Ivor Mendonca dies at 79

Guyana Chronicle article.

Georgetown, Guyana - The local cricketing fraternity was thrown into a state of mourning yesterday morning, following the death of 79-year-old Ivor Leon Mendonca, who lost his prolonged battle with larynx and prostate cancer.

Born to Ineas and Osmond Mendonca on July 13 1934, Ivor Leon Mendonca, a former British Guiana and West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman, took his last breath yesterday, one month shy of his 80th birthday.

Mendonca was a former West Indian cricketer who played in two Tests in 1962, a useful batsman who played for British Guiana from 1958-59 to 1961-62 and who on his first-class debut against Barbados opened the batting and scored 74 and 27, and in his second match, also against Barbados, made 5 and 69, before batting down the order.

He made his Test debut against India in the second Test at Kingston in 1961-62, when batting at number eight he made 78, his highest first-class score, adding 127 for the seventh wicket with Sir Gary Sobers and 74 for the eighth wicket with Charlie Stayers.

Mendonca was a reliable wicketkeeper-batsman who had the misfortune to be at his peak at a time when there was no vacancy in the West Indies squad.

His two Test appearances came when Jackie Hendriks was injured, in the second and fourth Tests against India in 1961-62. In his debut, at Kingston, he scored 78 and took four catches and made a stumping. In his other Test he again accounted for five dismissals.

But despite this, Deryck Murray was preferred for the 1963 England tour and Mendonca was not chosen again. His second Test outing was also his final first-class appearance.

He lost his place to David Allan for the third Test, returned for the fourth then was replaced by Allan again for the fifth, with the fourth Test being his last first-class match.

Overall, he played 10 first-class matches in which he scored 407 runs at an average of 31.30 with three half-centuries and a topscore of 78 against India (as mentioned above), while he took 25 catches and effected 5 stumpings as a wicketkeeper.

The late Mendonca is the oldest of 10 siblings and he was the uncle of English footballer Clive Mendonca and in an invited comment with Chronicle Sport, president of the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) Dr Lionel Jaikarran said he was in shock at the death of Mendonca, who was seen as a father figure to many of the club’s members.

“It was with great regret yesterday morning we the executives of GCC got the news of Mendonca’s death through his brother.

Prior to his death, Ivor was a strong pillar at the club, serving in the capacity of member, player, coach, role model and even father figure to the many youngsters who came through the gate and were fortunate to receive tips from him,” said Jaikarran.

He added, “It is sad to say that he did not get the opportunity to see West Indies selectee Leon Johnson make his Test debut, since Leon was one of the many players who were coached by Mendonca in his heyday, prior to Monte Lynch taking over as coach of the club.

That aside, he was a strong disciplinarian who did not encourage insularity from any of the players irrespective of his status and while we knew he was ailing, we are saddened at his sudden passing as we know him to be a fighter who never gave up easily.”

Rajendra Shamlall served as a barman at the club for over 20 years, during which time he observed the late Mendonca along with former president of the Demerara Cricket Board (DCB) Harold ‘Doc’ Dhanraj, execute coaching duties with the various teams.

“To my mind, he was a good coach at GCC. Not to say that those we had before or after him were not good, but he was one who could be seen every afternoon with ‘Doc’ Dhanraj, coaching the three divisional teams of the club.

Mr Mendonca passed on his knowledge to the first and second divisions, while ‘Doc’ Dhanraj was doing the same with the third division and tiny tots and at the end of the day, the two of them would sit and make plans for the next day’s session,” said Shamlall.

Asked to comment on his feelings at Mendonca’s death, all the 26-year-old Johnson could say was “Oh my boy, are you sure? He was my first coach.”

Prior to his death and amidst his condition, Mendonca coached such West Indies Test players as Reon King, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Neil McGarrell, while several national players including Johnson, Azeemul Haniff, Nicholas DeGroot, Calvin Belgrave and Robin Bacchus were all part of his cadre of players as well.

His funeral would be announced later, but at this time Chronicle Sport wishes to express to the family, friends and members of GCC, condolences on the death of Ivor Mendonca and: May his soul rest in Peace.

First Published In The Guyana Chronicle.

Sat, 06/14/2014 - 19:07