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BLOOD ON THE FIELD by Rae Samuel

posted 29 Sep 2015, 20:22 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 Sep 2015, 20:37 ]
Once upon a time drive-bys, those shootings/killings where a vehicle would drive by and target rivals, would occur in the streets and we would read of them in the headlines. Well, we in the West Indies have always been a creative people so the drive-bys now take place on the cricket pitches or at WICB offices. 

The hit men more often than not are former legends of the game who seem to imagine running the game is the same as running between wickets at Lord's or the Kensington Oval. Or the assassin maybe a 'suit'. This is a term used by policemen on the beat to describe those who have graduated from academies and try to run the show 'by the book'. Trinidad and Tobago say "Amen''.

So we now seem to have as much 'blood' on the sport pages as we are used to having on the front pages. The latest "kill' is Phil Simmons, former mediocre Test player and very successful coach of the Ireland cricket team, who for reasons best known to himself chose to return home to West Indies cricket, apparently to "die'.

Seems that Phil went to a meeting with the selectors to pick a team to tour Sri Lanka and decided to 'play with a straight bat', something he did not do very often in his playing days; but according to reports the 'pitch' at that meeting was turning all how and the result was less than pleasing to Phil who o
penly questioned the panel's call. There is no 3rd umpire in games like these so that's it for Phil, alongside Bravo and Pollard and soon too, it seems, Denesh Ramdin.

Short of public demonstrations from Kingston to Georgetown it is hard to imagine West Indian cricket as we have come to know it surviving this and not going the way of the
 manual scoreboard. Will there be cricket in the West Indies? Of course! There will be endless T-20's and other flying attractions. We have the grounds and the climate and Digicel. It's called sports tourism. Test cricket? We could 'buy' players. Offer them citizenship. Isn't that modern sport? Cricketers are already raffled in the Indian Premier League or we could bring back Tony Gray and Bryan Davis. 

In the meanwhile look for statements, calls, recriminations, appeals and calls for good sense to prevail from the impotent and 'important' statesmen, elders and administrators in region. And I say this fully aware of the tragedy that this represents so soon after the Jack Warner/FIFA debacle. Once again I am reminded of something C.L.R James, servant and savant of West Indian cricket wrote in one of his essays.

He stated that Kwame Nkrumah wrote to each of the heads of the islands, when the West Indian Federation was about to collapse, reminding them that the former territories were on the march towards independence and the colonial masters would see the collapse of the Federation as proof that we could not manage our own affairs. He also pointed out that not one of them dared make the letter public. Well the federation did collapse but West Indian cricket remained the only Caribbean institution for every calypsonian from Kitchener to Rudder, to Gabby, All Rounder and Rootsman to celebrate in song.

I wonder if any bard in the region feeling to write or sing now, or if the colonial masters really knew our ruling classes better than we are willing to admit.
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