Wed | May 24, 2017

‘Dellmar’ looking solid at 175

Published:Monday | May 25, 2015 | 5:00 AMLivingston Scott
Headley George 'Dellmar' Samuels displays his West Indies cricket hat that was autographed by members of the West Indies cricket team to mark the coverage of his 175th Test cricket match, during the recent series against England.
Dellmar at work at Sabina Park.
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The recent Test series between the West Indies and England in the Caribbean marked a milestone for legendary photojournalist, Headley George 'Dellmar' Samuels.

The third and final contest was the 175th Test cricket match for the freelance photographer, who has published two books and has been associated with The Gleaner for almost 20 years.

"My first Test was 1981 in England, but 175 Tests just crept up on me," he remarked.

"I don't know (if I will reach 200 Tests) and I don't promise anybody that because I have a lot of things to do. Now I am kind of backing off the travelling and I only do the Caribbean now."

He added: "My career has been great. Few photojournalists have achieved what I have. I am the only one to have done so much and I am the longest serving one. Gordon Brooks from Barbados used to do it, but he is retired ... and there was Colin Cumberbatch from Guyana/

Antigua, he has stopped now. So the accomplishment itself is great," Samuels outlined.

"A lot of people have helped me, I could not have done all that I did without sponsorship. West Indies have not been winning over the years, so it takes brave people to really sponsor now and people continue to have faith in me ... because I give people what I tell them I am going to give them."

'Dellmar' graduated the New York Institute of Photography in 1967, before returning home in 1974. His ambition was to establish a high-class studio as a certified photo lab technician. But that venture failed, as he could not get the assistance required and opted to become a freelance photographer.

"The kind of studio I envisioned had to have two persons. I couldn't find anyone to help, so I just decided I would freelance. I freelanced for The Gleaner in America, like parties and Ms Jamaica/USA. So when that (studio) didn't work, I decided I would freelance and it took off," he recalled.

building experience

The respected and renown photographer spent the next few years building his experience and reputation. This saw him covering a wide range of sports (all of which he loves) and news for The Gleaner, including 13 years of National Premier League football.

In 1979, he got his first taste of international cricket when he covered the Cricket World Cup in England and since then, his focus has been on West Indies cricket.

That was followed by his first Test tour in 1980, when the West Indies toured England. After that came his first regional Test series, when the English toured the Caribbean a year later.

"I just decided one year that I am going to start doing cricket and I went to England and did two World Cups," he stated.

Dellmar's travels have taken him to every Test-playing nation, except Bangladesh and Kenya.

He has seen the highs and lows of the region's cricket and his most memorable moments include the Caribbean side win over England in two days in the first Test at Edgbaston (West Indies whitewashed the host 5-0) in 1984; and when they scored a dramatic win over South Africa in 1991 at Kensingston Oval in Barbados.

"We beat England at Edgbaston in two days, two hours and turned the cricket ground into a picnic ground. We bowled down England for 40-something," he reminisced. "But the match for me was against South Africa when that country opened up (from apartheid) and South Africa came to the Caribbean for a one-off Test (1991).

"They were winning up until the rest night (those times you had rest days). But the next day they came and needed about 40 runs and Courtney Walsh (four for 22) and Curtly Ambrose (six for 24) creamed them and they lost that game. Water came to my eyes and that was one of my greatest memories," he recollected.

The West Indies are struggling to reclaim their former glory and Samuels believes there are brighter days ahead.

"We have some young players, (Kraigg) Brathwaite from Barbados, (Jermaine) Blackwood from Jamaica and (Jason) Holder, the one day captain, they will come good. We also have a coach, Phil Simmons, who used to be a player. He helped transform Ireland and I think he can help transform us," he reasoned.

Samuels has published two pictorials, Caribbean Cricket Spectacular and the more recent Cricket Spectacular, which chronicled the West Indies and other nations' history in the Cricket World Cup from 1979 to 2003.