The Cayman sporting community is mourning the passing of celebrated cricketer Peter Burke who died of cancer last Friday.
Erik Keith “Peter” Burke, was born in Kingston, Jamaica on Nov. 16, 1945, and died at his home in West Bay, aged 69.
Burke arrived in Cayman in 1969 and started to work at George Seymour’s garage on Shedden Road before meeting businessman Derek Wight and beginning to work for him as well as play for Wight’s football and cricket teams.
Burke and Wight became great friends to the point that Burke described him in a newspaper article “as one of the best human beings I ever met in my whole life.” They had a close relationship until Wight’s death four years ago.
Burke worked for Wight at the Tom-Sun Garage until he started his own business in 1987. Burke later went to work at Island Paving Company and continued there until he got sick last year. A talented sportsman, he became a Cayman cricket and football legend in the 70s and 80s. Burke was the captain in the By-Rite Stars football team’s defence for many years.
But he is best remembered for his successful years as By-Rite’s cricket captain and as one of the top all-rounders in Cayman history. A medium-fast bowler, hard-hitting middle order batsman and excellent fielder, he is generally considered the best skipper By-Rite ever had.
Burke also led the club on many successful tours overseas, including to Jamaica in 1978 where By-Rite famously played against a star-studded Carriers cricket team that included West Indies and Jamaica legend Lawrence “Yaga” Rowe.
Whenever Burke spoke of his most memorable cricket trips overseas, he always mentioned two others in particular. One was a tour to Houston, Texas in 1982 where he led By-Rite to victory in a six-a-side tournament that included a team called Carib West with West Indies and Barbados legend Desmond Haynes in it. “We came back with two winners’ trophies,” Burke often boasted.
The other most memorable tour was to Barbados in 1983. By-Rite played against some of Barbados’ top teams and came back with a winning record which Burke was very proud of.
Without question, much of the By-Rite cricket team’s early success was as a result of his captaincy, man-management and close friendship with his players, all of whom loved and respected him.
Whenever Derek Wight felt that his sons, the twins David and Chris Wight, were getting too excited on the cricket field, it was inevitably Burke that he asked to deal with them. “Peter, you know what to do,” Wight senior would say.
Chris Wight said, “The By-Rite cricket team was truly like a family and Peter was the captain, a mentor, friend, and great example to those who played with him in those early years.”
Burke was inducted into Cayman cricket’s Hall of Fame in 2014, a well deserved award for one of Cayman’s true sporting legends and heroes.