PROFILE OF THE MONTH
By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
The story began in India. His grandfather Kareem Baksh was born in Mumbai, India. In 1900, Kareem went with his wife as an indentured servant to British Guiana (now Guyana) and was sent to work at Plantation Huisdieren. Kareem had a number of children, and Mohamed Ali Baksh was among them. In 1947, Kareem returned to a divided India. He went to Pakistan with his family. His son Ali stayed in Guyana and was married to Zainab. Their eldest child is Mohamed Nabbie Baksh, who is the subject of our profile.
Baksh was born in Good Hope in Canal No 1 in Guyana. He attended McGillivray Primary School where he passed the Pupil Teacher’s exam. His classmates included Dr. Tara Singh, and others. The headmaster was Henry Sahai, a top educator in Guyana.
In 1959, Baksh was sent to teach in Leguan at the Canadian Mission School. One of his students was biologist Dr. Gary Girdhari. A year later, Baksh was transferred to Hague Backdam where he taught for two years, and then it was to a school in Maria’s Pleasure in Wakenaam. In 1963, he went to Grove Primary School and in 1964, it was off to Teacher’s Training College. In 1966, he was reposted to Hague Backdam. The headmaster was Abdool Majeed Mohamed, another distinguished educator. Some of the teachers were Chabilall Tiwari, Frank Bissessar, Rajpatty Balkaran, Zamirule Ali, Francis Williams, and Mrs. Roopnarine, among others.
Baksh and Zamirule were married and settled at Hague front. The marriage has produced four children, Aftabbuddin, a civil engineer, Fazilluddin, a statistician, Taslema who works in human resources, and Shahabbuddin, a social worker. Fazilluddin earned his PhD in Statistics, from Reading University in England, and is constantly in demand for his expertise.
Baksh was transferred to Cornelia Ida Primary school in 1969. He met a young teacher who later became Swami Aksharananda, and who opened his own school, at Cornelia Ida; that friendship has endured to this day. Baksh was in charge of the Common Entrance class at Cornelia Ida, and under his tutelage, countless number of students articulated to the top schools in Guyana. Baksh gave over thirty years to the teaching profession, and was at one time a former treasurer of the Guyana Teacher’s Union. He graduated from the University of Guyana in 1982 with a degree in Education.
How did he get into cricket umpiring? Baksh said he was always involved in sports. In 1967, cricket umpire Tulsi Kumar made a visit to Cornelia Ida to hold a seminar. Baksh attended and wrote the Umpiring Exam. He topped the class and Kumar encouraged him to take up umpiring. Baksh started to officiate at games in the Northcote and Case Cup competitions, and soon he was umpiring the inter-county games. He wrote the Association of Cricket Umpires exam and passed. This meant that he could umpire Test matches as well.
One of the most exciting matches in which Baksh officiated was at Albion in Guyana. This was the Second One Day International, in March 1983, between India and the West Indies. India made 282/5 and West Indies replied with 255/9. Sunil Gavaskar made 90 before he was run out. Umpire Baksh gave the decision. Gavaskar was short by three inches and it was in the days before television replays. Wisden says that the game was held ‘in the heart of Guyana’s sugar area.’ But it was more. India had solid support from the 15,000 Albion contingent in the ground. One commentator thought the game was played in Madras! Kapil Dev, the Indian captain, called that victory, ‘the turning point in India’s one-day cricket.’ It was a prophetic statement. India beat West Indies at Lords later that summer to win the World Cup.
Baksh umpired in twenty-seven Shell Shield games before moving on to the biggest of his career. It was his first Test and it was played at Bourda between Australia and West Indies. That Test was like any other game to him, and he was proud of the fact that he was described as fair by both teams. Baksh left Guyana in 1984 for the United States. He was instrumental is setting up the umpiring association in the United States and was also involved with the Catholic charities.
During his illustrious career, Baksh has seen many players and their talents close-up. He rates Clive Lloyd highly as a hard-hitting batsman, and a gentleman. Michael Holding was one of the fastest bowlers he has seen. He says that Lloyd had the perfect team and he credits Rohan Kanhai as setting the foundation for the transition into a great West Indian side.
Baksh thanks a number of persons that have helped to shape his outlook. He is grateful to his wife Zamirule, his parents Zeinab and Kareem, and Frederick Mohan, known as teacher Jai, as great influences. Jebodh Singh, father of Joe Singh, and headmaster Henry Sahai, were also great educators that inspired Baksh. He says that the late Justice Rudolph Harper was a gentleman that was fair and had the best intentions for cricket and the law.
Umpire Baksh has served his community well. He was a teacher, a Test umpire, and a social worker. He has a great family and he continues to inspire others. We wish Mohamed Nabbie Baksh and his family all the best in the future.