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THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Batting not to die for

Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Batting not to die for

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I felt so bad, I felt so bad, I felt so . . . bad last Friday night as I watched Trinidad and Tobago humiliate Barbados in a cricket match that had no right ending the way it did.
Unfortunately for me, I did not endure the humiliation that all Bajans suffered whether they were on the scene of the slaughter at Kensington Oval, watching it on ESPN in the comfort of their living rooms, or over a drink in a sports bar, or following in the traditional way on radio.
I, not remembering that the night’s main match was between these two archrivals, boarded a LIAT plane last Friday afternoon bound for Trinidad.
Just before 8 p.m., I was stretched out on a couch in the family home of my friend, Mervin, dozing off on a cloud of shots of welcoming brandy and feeling like a newborn baby.
Suddenly, Mervin’s voice penetrated my peace: “Al, the match start.”
I opened my eyes, focused on the television set and saw Kensington Oval packed with people and, out in the middle, two batsmen dressed in the red and black of Trinidad and Tobago surrounded by a field in the blue and ‘yellow’ of Barbados.
It only took the recognition that these two countries were at it again on the battlefield of the cricket pitch to rinse every drop of sleep out of my eyes and have me sitting up ready for the action and very optimistic about Barbados pelting some real licks in Trinidad and Tobago.
Although Trinidad and Tobago’s performance with the bat silenced me like a lamb in contrast to the jubilation of Mervin.
Nevertheless, I silently kept my faith, confident that whatever Trinidad and Tobago did, Barbados would do it better. So that when in the final over wickets fell like rain, I found my voice and warned Mervin that his celebrating would be short-lived.
And even Mervin had to admit that what I had predicted looked like it was about to come to pass when Dwayne Smith and Rashidi Boucher immediately tore into the bowling and had the thousands of Bajans in the Oval feeling like I did, that we were about to witness a T20 massacre.
Who could have believed that the performance of the openers would be the climax of the Barbados innings and that after they were dismissed the rest of the team would just shrink and fall?  
I ate my humble pie with a few more shots of brandy straight up to sooth the hurt and pain of having my national pride destroyed in the land of the destroyers.
I have always boasted of Trinidad as being my home away from home but this evening can’t come too soon for me to board my LIAT flight and see this country disappear in the distance.
Regrettably, with the memory of Friday night still fresh in my mind, the feeling will be no different when eventually I look through my cabin window and see Barbados appearing in the distance.
• Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm.