how his friend and former Test player, Andy Ganteaume, remembers
Robert Julian Christiani, who died last week after prolonged
I had to pick an entertainer, Robert would be one of them,"
played all the shots and was not in the least bit inhibited
by bowling. He just went after it and enjoyed himself tremendously.
was a beautiful player, lovely to watch and also a very good
Ganteaume laughed as he remembered some of the wickets lost
as a consequence of Christiani's daring, but he maintains
that watching Christiani's style was worth the hazards.
Christiani, who had lived in Canada for decades, had suffered
with Alzheimer's disease before succumbing six months before
his 85th birthday.
Born on July 19, 1920, in what was then British Guiana, he
played football (once representing his country as goalkeeper),
and was something of an all-rounder at cricket, being a stroke-making
batsman, leg-break bowler and wicketkeeper.
His mother was a passionate cricket fan, often keeping scores
at matches and encouraging her four sons; all of whom played
His elder brother, Cyril, played for the West Indies too,
but he died from malaria at 25.
Robert's first class career lasted from 1938 to 1954.
He scored 5,103 runs at an average of 40.5, including 12 centuries,and
had 97 catches, 12 stumpings and 18 wickets.
Although he had turned out for trials in 1939 (and should
have been selected insists Ganteaume), he did not make his
Test debut until the English toured the West Indies in January
It was a bittersweet entry. He scored 99 runs in the second
innings, enough to make a grown man cry in the dressing room.
He went on to play in 22 Tests, against England, India, Australia
and New Zealand. He was part of the famous 1950 series against
England, scoring more than a thousand runs on that tour, despite
batting at number seven.
He scored 896 runs during his Test career, at an average of
26.35, both figures either a reflection of his batting position,
or his penchant for hitting every ball.
His highest score was 107 against India in New Delhi in 1948.
Christiani was not a big man, standing at 5ft. 10in., and
with his spectacles, he cut a more sedate figure than he was.
He possessed an infectious joie de vivre, and this he brought
firmly to his cricket: a true West Indian spirit if ever there