Sarge in Charge

Arguably, he is the finest stroke maker to have come out of Nevis.

Yes, he has no claim to making the West Indies team, but he puts that down to simply ‘coming up in the wrong era.’  The small islands/big islands politics was at its peak then and add to that the fact that he would have been forced to compete for a spot against legends such as Sir Garfield Sobers, Rohan Khanai; Seymour Nurse, Peter Lashley and the like.

His name is Livingstone Sargeant. Now at age 73, SARGE is retired and is currently enjoying his years of retirement from the ECCB, at his modest home in St. Kitts, along with his wife of many years.

In a recent interview with NTV Sports page, SARGE shared memories of his outstanding cricket life.

It all started at the St. Thomas’ Primary school and in his home village of Cotton Ground in Nevis. Those were the days when boys played cricket, virtually ANYWHERE and with ANYTHING. That would include bats made from coconut tree branches and limes and milk cans substituted for balls.  Those were the days when one match could last for an entire week, as the guys would break occasionally to go to the beach or to go and pick mangoes.

The Primary schools travelled across the island to engage each other and SARGE made his first half a ton versus the Combermere Primary School.

His talent was spotted and nurtured by the older boys in the village and he was soon drafted into the senior village team.  He made the Nevis team at age 17 but did not get to play that year, as the Leeward Islands tournament was scheduled for Nevis that year and the Park was not in readiness.

His first big score came against St. Kitts playing against talented bowlers such as Coury and Gilbert.

He later became a fixture for the Leewards team and scored many centuries and also became a fixture in the Combined Islands team, with a top score of 78, at the regional level.

His biggest moment came when he scored a magnificent 127, versus a touring English team, in the 1967-1968 series. That was not enough to get him the nod of the Windies selectors.

He pointed out that despite his famous battles with the Jamaican Uton Dowe, the fastest bowler that he ever faced, was the Englishman, Ken Jones, who bowled against him when he made that memorable hundred in Antigua.  He was a left-arm seamer, who got the ball to bounce uncomfortably and cut away from the right-hander, but SARGE handled him well during that innings.

SARGE has fond memories of his many great innings at Grove Park and the huge, supportive crowds and sends his thanks to his many fans over the years, for their tremendous support.

He spoke highly of his recently deceased teammate, Harold Walters, who he referred to as ‘a good team man,’ and noted that he was a great off-break bowler, but was also a very handy batsman.

He remembered the game versus Antigua when he was on 214, just 2 runs short of the Leeward Islands’ record. Nevis had lost 9 wickets and he was partnered by the young fast bowler, Evelyn, from Hanley’s Road, aka CHAPPEL.

CHAPPEL was unfortunately bowled, leaving SARGE not out on 214 and even though Augustine Merchant had made a half-century as well, Nevis failed to reach the 300 mark.

Another memorable incident in his career took place in Antigua In the late 1960s. Nevis was chasing over 280 runs for a victory target and SARGE and Alford Howell were batting superbly, in a huge partnership, with Nevis 184 for 2 and the Antiguans were really rattled.

An Antiguan umpire sent Howell LBW, with a ball that SARGE described as pitching and hitting him outside of his leg stump.  SARGE insists that he did not tell Howell not to walk, but he said he told him that he was not out.  The game ended abruptly, in confusion and the Nevisian players had to run for the safety of the pavilion.

During the altercations that followed, Sir Viv’ Richard’s father, who was the Officer in charge of the nearby prison, struck Howell.  It took the efforts of Premier Robert Bradshaw and businessman Eugene Walwyn, to charter a flight for the Nevisians to get back home safely.

SARGE was banned for one year and that would have affected his cricket in a huge way.

SARGE thanked God and his wife of many years, for all that they would have done for him.  During his last three years of failing health, his wife has been a tower of strength in his life.

He noted that he does household chores and odd jobs around the house such as plumbing and takes care of his beloved garden.

SARGE admonishes young players to train and practise hard, as this wonderful game of Cricket can set them for life, after two years at the international level. ‘House, car…you name it.’  ‘In the normal scheme of things, a man would have to work like 20 years before they can acquire such,’ he said.

You might also like