From umpiring to long-distance running, Goolcharan keeping active at 73

Khamchand Goolcharan - Joel Bailey
Khamchand Goolcharan - Joel Bailey

KHAMCHAND Goolcharan is not a household name, but he is intent on keeping active in sport, even at the ripe old age of 73.

Goolcharan, a retired postal worker, made the transition from cricket umpiring to long-distance running, and is intent on resuming competitive racing, once the covid19 restrictions are lifted.

He even wrote an essay on cricket, which was published on the 2014 edition of the Wisden cricketers’ almanack.

“When I retired in 1999 from the public service, the post office, I started to do some studies in umpiring,” said Goolcharan, during an interview in the Newsday’s Port of Spain office on Saturday. “I took the umpires course and I started doing some umpiring, in the North-East zone. They’re affiliated with the TT Cricket Board.

“Then the cricket started to (slow down) in the east and the money was $40 (per match). I said ‘look, let me take a little rest’. You can’t go and work for $40, taking hot sun and missing lunch.”

During that time, Goolcharan decided to try his hand in long-distance races.

“I started to run from 2000 and I started to run competitive from 2005,” he continued. “My first medal was in 2013 with TTARP (TT Association of Retired Persons), I came third in the over-65, and I keep on running each year. The last year that I ran was in 2019 (with TTARP) and I came second.

“I also ran other races. I run the TT marathon in 2017. I didn’t finish it, but my ability is to run half-marathon and 5k.”

How did Goolcharan cope during the government-imposed covid19 lockdown?

The Tunapuna resident acknowledged, “I continued running and walking. I used to walk from home to Curepe or to Arouca and back, when gyms were closed. But I start back in the gym now.”

According to Goolcharan, “When I retired, I wanted to do something in sports. I used to always walk fast. Them fellas used to say ‘how you always walking so fast, better you start to run’.

“I’m a member of Crunch Fitness in El Dorado, about 15 years now. I was in another gym in Tunapuna, but the (owner) died. He was Trevor Pile.”

Once the restriction eases, does he plan to return to competitive action? “Yes, if TTARP have their races I’m taking part,” he replied. “Anytime there is a 5k in the Savannah I’m going.”

Goolcharan said he was always passionate about cricket, since his pre-teen days.

“I used to go and see cricket in the (Queen’s Park) Oval from when I was about 12. I saw the Test in 1961, that is the essay I (wrote), West Indies playing England with (Ken) Barrington and (Colin) Cowdrey. I (wrote) ‘when the Trinidadians drinking their rum and coke, the Englishmen having their coffee and cake’. Since then, I’ve been a regular visitor to cricket in the Oval. I hardly missed any Test matches.”

Does he follow T20 as well? Goolcharan replied, “I always liked Test cricket, although it’s dying now, but you’ll always get the die-hards following England and Australia.

“One of my recommendations, in my essay, was to do away with the 50 overs and start playing 30 overs. The 50-overs were getting too boring. So, we (can) extend the 20 overs by ten overs.”

As far as umpiring was concerned, “I said if I can’t be a good cricketer, I wanted to do something in cricket, and I started to umpire.”

At the international level, the umpires are greatly assisted by technology, especially when it comes to decision-making.

Goolcharan said, “The umpiring now is the naked eye. You can always make a mistake. But, with the camera, as in football, they would give you the direct thing.

“The LBW is very contentious, how to give it,” he continued. “Sometimes you’ll be watching the TV and say ‘the man plumb’ but you don’t know how the man is bowling, if the ball is swinging. So, you can’t judge LBW on a TV, you have to be at the actual (pitch) to give LBWs.

“But there should be more replays in first-class cricket in the Caribbean. The players would see how they get out.”

Concerning the cricketers who have stood out for him, Goolcharan mentioned, “Some of the fastest bowlers I see in the Oval here (were) Allan Donald, Waqar Younis (and Curtly) Ambrose.

“Batsman-wise, I saw (Gary) Sobers, I saw (Rohan) Kanhai. They stand out in my book….and I saw (Brian) Lara. Statistically, you can’t leave out Lara from (any) West Indies World XI.”

About the state of West Indies cricket, Goolcharan said, “The West Indies selectors (are) making a lot of mistakes. Look in this Twenty20 side, (Nicholas) Pooran shouldn’t be the vice-captain, (Jason) Holder should be in the original (team) not a reserve, (Romario) Shepherd should be in the 15 and Darren Bravo should come back home and start to practice, and to go by a psychologist.

“And you should play four-day cricket before you play Twenty20. When you play four-day cricket, you play the actual shot. In Twenty20, you can play more shots than in first-class cricket, that is the reason why one-day cricket is not (considered) first-class.”

Goolcharan, who is married with no children, was asked which of his accomplishments stand out, particularly in long-distance racing.

He responded, “2017, in the marathon, I did about 12 miles. My foot started to give away so I said ‘let me (go) home’.

“I think, in the future of marathons in Trinidad and Tobago, if you run half (the distance), you should get a participatory medal.”


"From umpiring to long-distance running, Goolcharan keeping active at 73"

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