Another one of the country’s outstanding former sportsmen has died.
Former Trinidad and Tobago middle order batsman Sheldon Gomes passed away at a hospital in Las Vegas, United States on Tuesday evening. He was 69.
Sheldon, an elder brother of former West Indies star Larry Gomes, played 52 first-class matches in a career that began in 1969 against the Windward Islands in the Shell Shield. In his time, Gomes scored 2,583 runs and hit five centuries, including a career-best 213 against Jamaica at Montego Bay in 1977.
Yesterday, Gomes’s prowess as both a cricketer and schoolboy footballer was recounted by some of his former colleagues and friends.
“He was very, very knowledgeable,” noted former T&T and West Indies “mystery” spinner of the 1980s, Harold Joseph.
Joseph, who described Gomes as “my dear friend,” credited him with giving him his first pair of cricket pants.
But he also said: “He was a very, very, hard guy to out. He had all the shots...He could assess situations, which you hardly see in local cricket now. He could assess players and he was probably the best fieldsman that Trinidad produced. He was like a specialist 12th man for West Indies.”
Meanwhile, former outstanding T&T leg-spinner Ganesh Mahabir who began his first-class career in Gomes’s last season in 1983, added of his Queen’s Park and Moosai Sports Club team-mate: “He was a very, very good batsman, especially to spin bowling. I learned a lot while bowling to him.”
Gomes, who migrated to the United States in 1983, also made a name for himself on the New York cricket scene.
“Sheldon Gomes was one of the stalwarts of cricket in New York City,” recalled Shadi Khan, manager of Sims Cricket Club that Gomes captained during a period of seven years when they were champions in the Metropolitan League. The team also included in that period former T&T and West Indies wicketkeeper David Williams as well as national players Mahadeo Bodoe, Deonarine Deyal, and David Mohammed and former Jamaica players Dixieth Palmer and Larry Williams.
“He was a very hard out, you really had to fight for that wicket,” Khan recalled, who also said of Gomes the man that, “the way how he handled himself, he was a true gentleman, down to earth, he was a real Trini.”
On the football side, Gomes was a noted goalscorer during his time in the Colleges Football League for Queen’s Royal College in 1967 and 1968, his goals helping the Royalians to the League title in ‘68.
“He...had the ability despite his diminutive stature to jump extremely high from a standing position...He was an excellent header of the ball,” said his QRC team-mate Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Gomes was also a heavy scorer for the college at cricket, according to Browne.
“He was a prolific scorer and on Saturday afternoons he would score centuries. He would score a century on any given Saturday afternoon.”