The game of cricket consumed much of Jimmy Siew’s life. His enormous contributions to the sport, particularly as an administrator, were celebrated last weekend as family, friends and members of Canada’s cricket community gathered in Ottawa to pay their final respects to Siew who died two weeks ago at the age of 85.
Siew served as president of the Ottawa Valley Cricket Council (OVCC), the Ontario Cricket Association (OCA) and Cricket Canada. At the 1993 annual general meeting in Vancouver, he replaced Jack Kyle – who had served for 14 years straight – as the head of the national federation. He held the position for three years before losing to Dr. Geoff Edwards by four votes.
“Jimmy was instrumental in bringing the Sahara Cup series (a bilateral One-Day International tournament from 1996 to 1998 featuring India and Pakistan) to Toronto,” recalled Edwards. “He was a capable administrator who served the game well nationally and provincially.”
Long-time Cricket Canada secretary Calvin Clarke met Siew in 1978 during Canada’s preparation for the 1979 World Cup in England.
“While he relished his various roles as an administrator, I thought that umpiring was his passion,” said Clarke who is Cricket Canada’s longest serving official. “He was always keen to sit and talk about officiating and his understanding of the laws of the sport was impeccable…Jimmy was a mentor and a friend who had a close relationship with late West Indies player and selector, Joey Carew. You always knew you were in for a fun time when you were in their company and Jimmy was always prepared to take us out of Queen’s Park Oval, while we were watching a match, to grab a roti at the nearby Patraj Roti Shop.”
While in Botswana and Tanzania with Canadian International Development Agency missions (CIDA), Siew helped establish umpire associations in both African countries.
Born in Princes Town, south Trinidad, on August 12, 1928, Siew migrated to Canada two decades later and settled in Winnipeg for a few years before relocating to Vancouver where he spent 12 years. He played cricket, soccer, rugby and field hockey at the University of British Columbia where he graduated with an agricultural science degree and with Brockton Point which he helped win five consecutive first division championships.
As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force for 16 years until 1977 when he retired, Siew played a leading role in promoting cricket in the armed services. While assigned to Aylmer for military training in 1961, he played a season for St. George Cricket Club which captured the Southern Ontario title that year.
An off-break bowler, Siew was a big part of the club’s success, taking 53 wickets at an average of 4.5.
In 1963, Siew started the Canadian Forces Cricket Club at Rockliffe Air Force Station which he led to two straight OVCC titles. He also represented OVCC clubs Ottawa and New Edinburgh and Rolls Royce in Montreal and was a member of the Ottawa Valley team that played against the Derrick Robins touring team in 1976.
He took 5-26, including the wickets of former England captains Mike Gatting and David Gower.
Former Canadian batsman Danny Singh said Siew was the face of Ottawa cricket for many years.
“Whenever we went there to play, Jimmy would be the first to welcome us at Rideau Hall cricket ground,” he said. “Jimmy was an easy going person who paid a lot of attention to detail and always made sure you heard his side of the any story before he moved on to something else.”
Siew, who managed a national junior team that toured Bermuda in 1976 and still holds the OVCC bowling record of 100 wickets in a season, was named to the Canadian Forces Sports Honour Roll as a cricket builder in 1990 and inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame in Hartford eight years later.
“He’s left his mark on Canadian cricket through his many contributions to the game,” said Cricket Canada’s president Ravin Moorthy. “He loved the sport and was dedicated to promoting its advancement. As administrators we should strive to extoll the virtues of hard work and dedication that Jimmy practiced. The cricket community will miss him, but he will not be forgotten.”
Siew is survived by his wife of 62 years – Winifred – and their four children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.