JUST LIKE IT IS: An exciting week
The last week has been outstandingly exciting for Caribbean people.
There was the well honed music, bouncing boobs and bumpers of Pic-O-De-Crop and Kadooment, the dominance of the West Indies cricket team over New Zealand and the great track achievements of regional athletes at the London Olympics.
The deeper the gloom, the greater the need for some form of temporary escape. Reports on western economies in recent times have painted a picture of deepening of the loitering crisis, creating new stresses and strains.
The overwhelming West Indian victories in all three types of the modern game seemed indicative of a new, more professional approach. The arrival of Ottis Gibson as coach, his skills honed with the English team, seems to have had an uplifting effect on the team.
The instant impact of Chris Gayle’s return to the team and the demonstration that his batting has lost none of its hard-hitting dominance exposed the folly of the shenanigans which conspired to keep him out of the team for over a year.
There is a clear lesson which we can only hope those controlling West Indies cricket have benefited from and will not repeat. The role of certain political leaders in settling the problems between Gayle and the board has shot down the thesis that politicians should not get involved in Caribbean sport.
In all of our societies politics is in command and bearing in mind the pivotal role cricket plays, the political class can be ignored at our collective peril. I had a look recently at the report of former Jamaican prime minister P.J. Patterson and am ashamed that most of its excellent recommendations have been largely ignored by the board.
It defies logic that the recommendations of an investigation commissioned by the board have been so callously shunted aside. The time is fast approaching when both the board itself and the selectors get an infusion of new blood.
This year’s Crop Over celebrations were most enjoyable from my recliner. Calypso music is at the festival’s centre and we were blessed with an epic output of top-level social commentary. The avuncular and much heralded Mikey was a deserving winner of his prizes and his emergence shows that there is new blood to carry the genre forward.
Red Plastic Bag and the Mighty Gabby are international calypso icons who keep the flag flying high year after year, moving local calypso music to new heights. Let me also admit a liking for Adrian Clarke, Blood and Chrystal Cummins-Beckles who played a masterstroke by bringing her mentor, the magnificent Singing Sandra, on stage.
It is commendable that in a highly charged atmosphere of revelry, significant imbibing and gay abandon on the streets Kadooment Day, there was just one report of an incident attracting police attention.
Sharing the spotlight with Crop Over and cricket was the XXX Olympic Games in London. Once again Jamaica led the Caribbean charge and Usain Bolt stamped himself as probably the greatest ever sprinter. It was not just that he won the 100 metres in record time and 200, both for the second time, but the way in which he won.
Hitting the tape he always seems to be holding back something and if pressed could pull out a little more. He has brought new global attention to athletics. Like Muhammad Ali and Viv Richards, he has also brought to top-class sport a special swagger endearing him to hundreds of millions across the globe.
It boggles the mind that a country with a population of less than three million, Jamaica, could produce the three fastest men and the fastest woman in the world. With Yohan Blake running second at 22 years old, he is Bolt’s natural successor whenever he hangs up his boots, though at 25 the Brazil Olympics may see them clash again.
The Jamaican lady sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100 metres (and was second in the 200), and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who won the bronze, covered themselves and their country in glory. Cuba and the Dominican Republic also won gold, leaving many reflecting on the possibility of the region competing as a single entity.
Eye-catching was the performance of Grenada’s Kirani James winning gold in the 400 metres. From a population of just over 100 000, the 19-year-old slammed the world in style. What a wonderful tonic for the Spice Isle, grappling daily with pervasive political vagaries! The mentoring benefits are immeasurable.
Barbadian Ryan Brathwaite got to the 110-metre hurdles final, exciting the country with great expectations. He finished fifth. Christian Taylor, born in the United States of Barbadian parents, won gold in the triple jump for the United States.
If Grenada, with a third of Barbados’ population, can win gold, surely it is only a matter of time before someone walks in the footprints of our cricketers, producing a world champion.
• Peter Simmons, a social scientist, is a former diplomat.