NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (February 22, 2023) — Mr. Kevin Barrett, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Library Services, Youth and Sports in the Nevis Island Administration (Nevis Island Administration), expressed gratitude to Mr. Stevenson Manners, local author of the recently launched publication “The Father Son and Offsprings” for donating copies of his book to the Nevis Public Library Service and the Nevis Sports Museum.
The book which documents 78 years of cricketing history on Nevis, was presented during a recent exhibition mounted by the library in partnership with the author. It also highlights the contribution of Mr. Elquemedo Tonito Willett, the first Nevisian and Leeward Islander to play test cricket 50 years ago.
“Thank you very much Mr. Manners… you have put together what I believe is a masterpiece… I want to congratulate you not only putting this together but also recognizing Mr. Willett and all the others who you would have penned in your book, but I speak of Mr. Willett in this light because of the relationship that I’ve had with him – from hearing of him when I was at the Boy School and then as a coach at the Charlestown Primary School that I taught and was principal as well…
“We have had very, very good relations. That was through athletics but what you have documented here in terms of his cricketing prowess, I know that there are a lot of people who only have heard of Mr. Willett but I am sure you would have done your research, and statistics are here to back up all that we are saying we have heard about Mr. Willett, and it’s also symbolic, and if I could say in a metaphorical figure of speech about Mr. Willett, he’s an institution.
“Another institution in Nevis who have changed, I believe, the landscape of Nevis is the TDC and TDC is also celebrating 50 years and Mr. Willett, I believe, as of the contribution that TDC would have made to Nevis, I believe you would have made more because through your hands we have seen young cricketers, we have seen athletes…
“I looked at a team just a few years ago and there were some young cricketers who were selected to the Leeward Islands, I think it was Under 19, and except for one cricketer from Nevis [who] made that team, all of the others went to the Charlestown Primary School but the exception to that was a cricketer who would have also benefited from Mr. Willett who was Carlon Tuckett and he would have gone to the Maude Crosse Preparatory School but I know Mr. Willett had a hand in his coming through as a young cricketer.
“So Mr. Manners, I want to thank you on behalf of the Ministry of Education, on behalf of the Library Services. We want to thank you because this, I believe, is going to create some traffic to the library, and that is always a good thing because we are hearing nowadays that libraries are becoming outdated and extinct,” he said.
In presenting the books to the permanent secretary, Mr. Manners underscored his satisfaction in compiling and publishing his newest publication and justified his reasons for writing it.
“I’m very happy to be able to do this because I’ve always felt that Nevis is one of the greatest pieces of cricketing real estate in the world. Where else could an island be 36 square miles about 11, 000 people and produce seven international cricketers? It all started with this man Elquemedo Tonito Willett, who on March 9th, 1973, became the first Nevisian and first Leeward Islander to play test cricket. At that point in time, he was the 8th youngest ever to play for the West Indies, and it took another 21 years for another teenager to come through and that was on March 17th, 1994 in Shivnarine Chanderpaul of Guyana.
“We don’t commemorate and appreciate enough on Nevis. As a matter of fact, when the Leeward Islands Tournament turned 100 in 2013, then president of the West Indies Cricket Board, Former Ambassador to the United Nations for St. Lucia Mr. Julian Hunte said in his address, that he doesn’t think that we have commemorated, celebrated and documented what Willett achieved. He played five test matches, got 11 wickets but there were some prevailing circumstances with big islands were dominating, and then of course, there was a four-prong pace attack which dominated the world for 20 years and so spin bowlers were pushed aside, but it must not be lost on our history that Nevis started in 1949 in Antigua.
“It took us 24 years to produce a test cricketer; it took Antigua 61 years to produce Andy Roberts and our neighbouring St. Kitts after 110 years of Leeward Islands cricket has not produced a single test cricketer. I do not take that lightly, and so the major emphasis and the thrust to write this book is because we are… days away from the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Willet’s amazing feat but beyond that, the book looks at Nevis cricket from 1945 to 2023. So it deals with the early pioneers, people who laid the groundwork, and it deals with the offsprings, those who have followed in Willett’s footsteps and this man is the son, Nevis’ favourite son,” he said.
On May 09, 2023, Mr. Willett is expected to be honoured at a gala hosted by the Nevis Cricket Association to mark the 50th anniversary of when he became a test cricketer. The NIA has made a $50,000 contribution toward the event.