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A THORNY ISSUE: That’s no way to treat a hero

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: That’s no way to treat a hero

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Where is it written that a cricket legend has honour in his own country?
Surely not in Barbados, which is notorious for not being a respecter of persons, especially of sportsmen.
Therefore, the treatment meted out to Desmond Haynes was par for the course; in keeping with tradition.
And he’s not alone by a long shot.
Several years ago I shook my head in disbelief when a security officer at the entrance of the Challenor Stand refused to let in Sir Garfield Sobers because he didn’t have a pass.
The hurtful thing is that he recognised who he was stopping but he was adamant that the game’s greatest player couldn’t enter without accreditation. 
It was only after someone sent a message to a former secretary of the Barbados Cricket Association that he came and escorted Sir Garfield up.
It is ironic that having found himself in hot water this time, Haynes was fearful that the same thing might happen to our only living National Hero and he wanted to prevent that.
It was a very noble thought, but subsequent comments by some in authority did not give any assurance or guarantee that Sir Garry wouldn’t have gone through the same proverbial “horn pipe as Haynes.
If it had happened, I am sure many would have likened it to sacrilege.
Maybe it was the tone of certain comments after the fact that made matters worse. It was like Haynes trying to defend his wicket against the ferocious pace of Jeff Thomson at Kensington in 1978. 
In that context, the flaring of tempers in the heat of the moment should be understood on both sides.
The burning question we have to consider is whether the matter should have reached that point.
I don’t think it should have, if Haynes only wanted to be fast-tracked into the Oval so that he could put things in place in one of the boxes in his capacity as chairman of the Legends.
I get the impression he would have been prepared to stand in the long queue like the others had not his matter been urgent.
He knows Bajan culture and would have done everything possible to avoid being put in an embarrassing position.
The bitterest pill of all was that he even found difficulty entering the stand that bears his name.
It seemed to be a culture shock he never thought he would experience in his own domain. No wonder his spontaneous reaction was to call for his name to be removed from the stand.
Haynes seemed to be pushed to the limit when I thought there was a clear case for some discretion and flexibility to be shown by those involved.
It would be wrong, though, to make scapegoats of the security officers for doing their jobs but what has to be scrutinised is the absence of a system at Kensington that makes access easy for people of Haynes’ standing.
I am certain that will be rectified as a result of what happened to the legendary West Indies opener.
I believe it is also unfortunate when the middle man gets squeezed in the circumstances that unfolded in the Haynes affair. The people at the top should hold the stick for their oversight, not security personnel who have to follow instructions.
People who have served the country with distinction shouldn’t have to face the horrors Haynes did.
It may not be necessary to roll out the red carpet for every function the legends attend but surely international cricket at Kensington has to be an exception.
That is a shrine that stores evidence of their mighty works for country and the West Indies and their passage shouldn’t be hindered when they return to support others who may one day rise to similar heights and be accorded similar recognition.
We tend not to care about people the way we should if we determine that their shelf life has expired. But what if something good comes out of Holders Hill?
Shouldn’t we be trying to ensure that others grow and want to walk in Haynes’ footsteps?
Seriously, after his experience don’t you think that some youth would agonise about the sense of contributing to national development?
Just because these cracks in the system are legendary, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to fix them. 
Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist.