A Tribute to Sheldon Gomes
By Kazim Abasali. Published October 1st, 2020
Sheldon Anthony Gomes was born in Arima, Trinidad on 18th of October, 1950 to Cecil and Kimlan Gomes, both now deceased.
He had nine siblings, Dianne Gomes-Cedeno, Beverly Gomes-Nunes, Cecil (Lester) (deceased), Gregory, Hilary (Larry), Helenize (Helen), Bertrand (Randy), Claire (Colleen) de Silva (deceased), and Simone.
His father, Pa Gomes as he was popularly called, served as a Councillor in the Arima Borough Council during the period 1958 – 1959.
Pa and Ma Gomes taught their children to respect others and to be humble.
Sheldon exemplified these traits during his life.
The Gomes family lived very close to the Arima Savannah, located off Pro Queen St., and it served as their playground and grand backyard. That is, when they were not playing on the streets.
Their home area and the homes that surrounded them on the nearby streets became known as “The Neighbourhood”.
For the Gomes family, sport was an integral part of their daily lives.
Sheldon was particularly talented in Cricket, Football, Table Tennis and Track and Field.
His primary education was attained at Arima Boys’ Government School. He then attended Holy Cross College in Arima.
At Holy Cross, Sheldon was the cricket and football captain for several years. In the opinion of most teachers, past and present, Sheldon was among the best of all the sportsmen who passed through the college.
A likeable sportsman, his achievements in college cricket have not as yet and are unlikely to be equalled in the foreseeable future.
His batting and fielding feats were responsible for Holy Cross’ complete domination of college cricket in the East Zone in the 1960s, given the might of St. Mary’s and Q.R.C., stiff opposition in National competitions.
During his time at Holy Cross, Sheldon scored 11 centuries and remains the leading century maker for the college, followed by his brother, Larry who scored five.
His sporting achievements during his school days were not limited to cricket, however.
In football, he was probably one of the best forwards and headers of the ball that passed through Holy Cross and his immense talent helped the college to dominate football in the East Zone.
He captained the Football Team during the period 1963 – 1967. During that time Holy Cross won the National Giants (Under 14) Trophy in 1963. And from 1964 – 1968, Holy Cross reached National Semi-Finals in the Under 16 (Juniors) League, having made light work of the other East Zones teams.
After leaving Holy Cross, Sheldon attended Queen’s Royal College (Q.R.C.) where he continued to perform brilliantly in both cricket and football.
Shortly after leaving school, Sheldon was selected to represent Trinidad and Tobago in cricket.
He played 55 first-class matches for Trinidad and Tobago. He was a fine fielder and a stroke-player of the highest quality.
He scored 5 hundreds at first-class level and 15 half-centuries in scoring 2,645 runs.
His most outstanding innings was his 213 against Jamaica in the 1976-77 Shell Shield tournament.
During that season, his best at first-class level, Sheldon scored 633 runs at an average of 70.33, compiling 5 first-class centuries. In addition to his 213 against Jamaica, he scored 126 against Barbados with Sylvester Clarke in the line-up, 112 versus Guyana whose bowling attack included Colin Croft, 100 versus South and 88 versus the Touring Indians.
The upcoming West Indies tour of India needed players because several of the senior West Indies players were playing in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.
Despite Sheldon’s exceptional batting records and average, he still was not chosen to play for the West Indies. However, he was called upon to serve as Emergency Fieldsman in a number of Test matches.
Sheldon also had the distinction of being in the regional championship-winning team when Trinidad and Tobago copped the Shell Shield Tournament in 1975.
Over his distinguished career, Sheldon Gomes played for North, East Trinidad, Queen’s Park Cricket Club, Moosai Sports, Flamingoes and Clarke Road in their respective Leagues and he also represented Paragon in a Knockout final against Preysal.
Among his peers in his First-Class career were many other standout cricketers of the era including Bernard Julien, Charlie Davis, Joey Carew (deceased), Harold Ramoutar, Richard Gabriel, Rangy Nanan (deceased), Kenrick Bainey, Dudnath Ramkessoon, Imtiaz Ali, Raphick Jumadeen, Prince Bartholomew (deceased) and Inshan Ali (deceased).
His first-class and List-A career spanned 1968 to 1983.
Sheldon’s cricket career in the Caribbean came to an end in 1983. It spanned 15 years at the Club level and 14 years at the Regional level.
He then emigrated to the United States where he played and captained the Sims Cricket Club and the Trinidad Sports Club, teams which comprised players from Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
Sheldon served as captain and selector of the Sims Cricket Club team for over sixteen (16) years. They were the No.1 cricket team in the New York Metropolitan League winning the championship for six (6) straight years, and in the Brooklyn League, winning the championship for five (5) years.
He also conducted coaching programmes with a focus on mentoring the youth.
Sheldon Gomes’ immense talent was nurtured in the grounding he received in “The Neighbourhood” where he grew up.
All the male members of his family excelled in many different sporting disciplines.
The most notable of them all was Larry, Sheldon’s younger brother, who represented the West Indies with distinction for many years and who was part of the all-conquering Clive Lloyd-led team that dominated world cricket for almost two decades.
Lester, the eldest brother, played cricket and lawn tennis, at both of which he was outstanding.
Randy, the youngest brother, represented Trinidad and Tobago in cricket at the youth level for several years.
Pa Gomes, along with Eustace Draper, the father of former Government Minister, the late Gordon Draper, was instrumental in forming the Arima Sporting Club that helped to nurture “The Neighbourhood” children.
“The Neighbourhood” produced several national athletes including Ainsley Armstrong and Anthony Husbands in Track and Field, national lawn tennis players like the Boyce and Auguste brothers and Brendan and Brian Bain, both of whom represented Trinidad and Tobago in football.
Another distinguished sportsman who came from “The Neighbourhood” was Phil ‘Pip’ Simmons, who represented both Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies as an opening batsman and who, following the end of his playing days, became a qualified cricket coach and is the current Coach of the West Indies cricket team. He also previously served as the national coach of both Ireland and Afghanistan.
Phil Simmons penned the following tribute:
“Sheldon was very generous with his time and knowledge. He would talk about cricket with excitement. I didn’t spend much time with him but every time we met he had constructive advice to offer. He was, in my opinion, the best fieldsman that Trinidad and Tobago ever produced. Arima has been blessed with many wonderful international sports people and he would have to be up there with them all.”
Following Sheldon’s Passing On September 15th, 2020 At The Age Of 69, A Number Of Prominent Sportsmen And Dignitaries Paid Tribute.
Minister of Sports, Shamfa Cudjoe extends condolences from the Ministry:
“The Ministry of Sport and Community Development joins the sporting fraternity in mourning the loss of former cricketer Sheldon Gomes.
The brother of former West Indies test batsman, Larry Gomes, passed away at his Las Vegas, Nevada home at the age of 69. He will be remembered for his invaluable contribution on and off the field. His dynamic career spanned from 1968 to 1983.
Overall, Gomes played 55 matches, scoring 2645 runs, with a batting average of 32.65.
We extend our condolences to his family. May he Rest in Peace.”
Minister in the Ministry of Education and former Mayor of Arima, Lisa Morris-Julian, said:
“You cannot be from the East and be unaware of the brighter stars in our constellation. The contribution of the Gomes family to our humble town can never be underestimated. Sheldon Gomes loved people, Arima and Cricket. And they all loved him back. Rest in Peace Mr. Gomes. God loves a cricketer.”
World record holder, Brian Charles Lara, who was in India at the time of Sheldon’s death, had this to say.
“Sheldon Gomes was an outstanding cricketer for our country.
I remember as a schoolboy I did a bit of scoreboard work at the Queen’s Park Oval and my eyes were always fixed on Sheldon whenever he came to the wicket.
I was able to learn a lot.
He was fearless against all the great fast bowlers we had in the Caribbean and especially fascinating at handling spin.
I would sit as a teenager among the senior players of our national team during the late 80s and listen when they talked about Sheldon. Many felt he was as good a batsman as former West Indian player, Larry Gomes, his brother, and some even felt he was better.
I never had the opportunity to play with him but every time he saw me in whites he would come over and offer sound advice – advice which I took to heart.
We have lost a great servant to our country and the sport of cricket.
My sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to the Gomes family at this time.
May he forever Rest in Peace!”
Former West Indies opening batsman, Gordon Greenidge, also expressed his feelings on Sheldon’s passing.
“I was deeply saddened by the news of Sheldon’s passing.
It goes without saying that when people you know and for whom you have a lot of respect depart it hurts much more.
I did not spend a great amount of time with Sheldon but the few moments we shared together were always full of fun and laughter.
The great selector above is picking an unbeatable squad, not just with playing ability, but also character.
I am certain the cricket fraternity in the Caribbean, and certainly in Trinidad and Tobago, feels the pain of the loss of a favourite son of the soil.
To his family and friends I send my condolences and love.
May he Rest In Peace and rise in glory.”
When told of Sheldon’s death, former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies wicketkeeper and current Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to Jamaica, Deryck Murray, said:
“Such sad news.
One of Shelly’s real assets is that he was a great team man.
There was nothing that he wouldn’t do to help the team no matter what the situation was.
He would always be the first to volunteer for the “dirty” jobs by going to bat-pad or silly point in the days when protection wasn’t around in the game so it was just share bravery. He was the one to do it.
He was a brilliant fieldsman in any position.
In addition, with his boyish enthusiasm he would always generate positive vibes which made him so valuable to have around the dressing room.
Go to a well-deserved rest, Shelly; and May Light Perpetual Shine upon you.”
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, Azim Bassarath, noted:
“Sheldon was a gifted cricketer whose exploits, especially in the field, added an exciting dimension to the game. You were always sure that something could happen when Sheldon Gomes was prowling in the covers or fielding close up to the batsman as he possessed the safest pair of hands and a quick turn of foot that left no ball struck by the batsman unchallenged within range.”
Elvin ‘Ello’ Edwards, former Mayor of Arima, and who was Sheldon’s Holy Cross College classmate, and cricket and football teammate shared:
“It is indeed with a deep sense of sadness that I wish to express a few memories of my long-standing, dear friend, Sheldon ‘Shelly’ Gomes.
I prefer to relate my comments to my friendship and association with Sheldon while we attended Holy Cross College. Sheldon served as my Captain at both Football and Cricket through our years at Holy Cross College. I marvelled at his prowess and effortless display of skills while on the field of play. His dynamism certainly motivated all of his fellow players to strive for excellence.
There were several games when Sheldon, through his majestic display, brought joy and happiness to our Team and by extension the College and the wider Arima Community.
The side-line chants of our supporters on the ‘Hill-Top’ were “Sheldon We Want A Goal”, and most faithfully, Shelly delivered. He was a prolific scorer, both at Cricket and Football and was a “Joy to Behold”.
I will certainly miss My Very Dear Friend. I extend Condolences to His Entire Family.
Rest In Peace, Shelly”
At Holy Cross College, Sheldon’s football coach at the time Fr. Pierce Dunne had this to say about Sheldon.
“Sheldon would have been a great professional footballer. He had unbelievable skill in football. While he was slight in build, he had wonderful anticipation in the field..”
“It was also a joy watching Sheldon play cricket.”
The Mount St. Benedict Abbey School Alumni shared the following:
“Sheldon coached both cricket and football at our college for a number of years. He was a great coach. He encouraged students to perform well and actually trained with us.
He would run circles around us younger players in football. He was very athletic with abundant energy.
We extend our condolences to the Gomes family.
May he Rest in Peace!”
Kazim Abasali of the Abasali family of Arima expressed his family’s feelings on Sheldon’s passing.
“A very close bond existed over the years and has continued to this day between the Abasali and Gomes families.
“Shelly” as we called him was thought of as “family” by all of us.
His life went beyond his immediate surroundings. He belonged to the world.
What greater honour can be paid to his siblings and his own family than that he extended his love to all whom he met so that his family can take credit for his caring nature.
That caring nature was born out of the love and care of his parents, “Pa Cecil Gomes and Ma Kimlan Gomes”. They were the bedrock of the family’s nurturing and their training is exemplified in Shelly’s great love for others.
Sheldon was very close to my mother and my siblings.
He accompanied us from New York to Trinidad when we laid one of our brothers to rest and he was there all the way with us when our Mom passed on.
He considered our Mom his Mom also.
There is no more fitting tribute that we can pay to Sheldon than by being there for his very own dear family who are feeling the loss of his earthy presence just as Sheldon was there for us when our family experienced loss.
We mourn with you and share your grief. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Sheldon, your kind, loving, humble and joyful spirit lives on in our hearts.
Rest in Peace Shelly. We Love You Eternally.”
When Sheldon first moved to New York, USA, Dilip and Vindra Ramkissoon provided a haven for him. Sheldon was provided with hospitality at the their home and they remained close friends like family until his passing.
Dilip Ramkissoon spoke in glowing terms of his family friend.
“My wife and I shared a lot of wonderful times with Sheldon.
He lived in our household about a year. He was accepted as part of our family. To everyone with whom he came in contact, he used to always refer to us as his second mother and father. We were very fond of him.
We eventually convinced him to immigrate to the US permanently and later on to become a US citizen.
Both of our families were very close. He was a giant among men and an excellent cricketer and footballer. Besides being an excellent sportsman, he was a role model to younger players. His love for family and friends was second to none.
Two years ago Sheldon took that wonderful trip with me and the boys to Thailand. His health wasn’t the best, but he never complained.
Sheldon was well loved and respected both here in New York and in Trinidad. He leaves a rich legacy behind for generations to come. He will be missed dearly.
God be with you my friend. Rest in peace.”
Shadi Khan, Manager/Player of the Sims Cricket Club in New York shared these comments.
“It is indeed very sad to hear of Sheldon’s passing.
He was very instrumental in developing the cricket league here in New York. He attracted many players from the West Indies to play and helped build the cricket sporting life for us all.
He served as captain and selector of our team for over sixteen (16) years.
We were the No.1 cricket team in the New York Metropolitan League. Under his captaincy we won the championship for six (6) straight years.
Thereafter, when we played in the Brooklyn League, we won the championship for five (5) years, again under Sheldon’s captaincy.
He also served as coach in the cricket youth programme.
He loved mentoring the youths.
Sheldon’s sporting life serves as a great legacy, more so in terms of his attention to the youths and his determination to carry the game of cricket forward.
He was truly loved for he was a sincere and an outstanding human being as evidenced by his dedication to others. He gave so much of himself.
In later years, as a form of giving back to him, I accommodated him while he sought medical attention here in New York for his diabetes.
It was the least I could do for him as a friend.
He will be missed.
Condolences to his family and the New York and Caribbean sporting fraternity. May he Rest in Peace!”
Sheldon Gomes had four (4) children, Mark, Paul, Natasha and Shelly Ann, five (5) grandchildren and one (1) great grandchild.
He passed away in Las Vegas where he had been staying with his daughter and undergoing medical treatment.
He will be sorely missed.
SHELDON ANTHONY GOMES, MAY YOU FOREVER REST IN PEACE!
Ryan Bachoo: Here’s a look back at my 2017 interview with Sheldon Gomes. This interview was done at the Arima Velodrome at a Past Cricketers’ Society cookout.
By Mark Gomes, Eldest Son Of Sheldon Gomes
Dear Editor_ My dad, Sheldon Gomes, epitomised grace, humility, and generosity… – Wired868
The Past Cricketers’ Society of Trinidad &Tobago
Courtesy Justice Prakash Moosai
SHELDON GOMES PRESS RELEASE
Queens Royal College 1967-68 Teammates
Tribute to Sheldon Gomes our truly talented friend, brother and teammate
i95.5 (Andre Errol Baptiste), Family Members, Friends, Players, and others offer tributes to Sheldon Gomes.
Diane Gomes-Cedeno, Ashton Ford, Beverly Gomes-Nunes, Harold Joseph, Azim Bassarath, Randy Gomes, Richard Gabriel, Astil Renn.
Sheldon was referred to by many names, such as ‘Shelly’, ‘Gomeszee’, ‘Onions’ and other names.
However, Sheldon alluded to himself as “The Prodigal Son’.
Well ‘The Prodigal Son’ has gone to meet The Father.
And the Father saw Sheldon coming to Him and ran to meet him.
Threw His arms around Sheldon embracing him.
The best robe has been put on Sheldon, a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.
And there is celebration for the son who has returned home.
So Sheldon ‘The Prodigal Son’ is with The Father in Heaven now.
By Kazim Abasali. Published on 1st October, 2020
Kazim Abasali is a multimedia artist who enjoys creating his empowering and inspiring art, music, videos, ebooks, published articles, and websites, for himself and others. To access his artistic projects, kindly visit his website.
“Empower with Art” – Hearts empowering lives.