Rock-bottom cricket for ’nuff money’
RUFUS eventually called. My first question to him was why it had taken so long to make contact.
His reply was that, although he had promised not to discuss West Indies cricket ever again, recent events forced him to break that promise and talk to somebody before going mad.
And so, off I went to Ellerton last Saturday to meet my old, retired carpenter friend at our usual watering hole. The proprietress, Ms Browne, welcomed us warmly ’though it was noticeable that not many patrons were in the shop. She told us that business was bad and that it would not be long before she shut shop, literally.
My only consolatory words to her were that she was one of many whose businesses were on their last legs.
Rufus and I sat down and the conversation went like this.
Rufus: Skipper, I almost called you a few weeks ago when I was watching some Test cricket from Australia and South Africa. Now that is what I call cricket; not this thing that we promoting and feel it gine be the salvation of the game ’bout here.
TK: My friend, if you know how it hurt recently when we went to India and then New Zealand and put in some of the worst performances you can imagine from a Test side. Did you realise that we have been virtually relegated to a second division and that we will only see the odd Test match involving West Indies?
Rufus: But you know what is worse? Our big boys who running the cricket see no problem. They boasting that they gine earn nuff money from the new ICC arrangement but they ain’t know what it is to be near the bottom of the heap.
I can remember feeling proud as a peacock when we used to beat all them big sides and non-white people all around the world did in we corner because we did represent “black excellence”. So many men spend their life building West Indies cricket only to see we in the league with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh who gine soon pass we out.
TK: But, Rufus, my concern is that we seem unaware that it is a problem. Look at how much emphasis we are placing on this one-day stuff. I understand that the Caribbean Premier League is being managed by new people and some of our former greats and present players will be only spectators. You mean that after all these years of calling ourselves independent, people bring Tom, Dick and Harry to run everything in this region?
Rufus: My worry is that once we see a few dollars dangling in front of we, we does get foolish and forget that we owe it to we children and grandchildren to own we countries. But, Skipper, now that I remember, I see they got problems down in Fontabelle with the cricket ground. I can remember that ten years ago, you argue that the BCA should never allow the Government to take over things down there.
TK: Yes, my friend. I got a lot of licks for saying that Government should have built a new all-purpose facility which would have been theirs and leave the BCA with their own ground which could be used to properly develop the game. It would have cost half as much. And what do we have now? Some kind of elephant.
Rufus: But, boss, after all that we talk, how we gine restore some of that pride we once had? It can’t be easy.
TK: Far from. Rufus, we have to start all over again. We have to go back to our primary and secondary schools and train people to teach the game properly. We have to ensure that our facilities are up to scratch. We have to find dedicated people who are not only there for the social trimmings which the game has to offer. And further, we must develop the will to get back there.
Rufus: But you know, Skipper, we like we forget that we used to rule the cricket world when we had some fast bowlers that had men standing home and sending monkey excuses why they couldn’t play. I had to laugh recently when they bring a man to teach the art to we slow bowlers. I remember a fella saying that what we really need is a “quartet of six fast bowlers” if we want to compete. He didn’t put it right but I know exactly what he means.
It was painful for both Rufus and myself to continue. It is difficult to see something you love destroyed by “brutish beasts” and men who have lost their reason.
Tony King is a former Barbados cricketer and West Indies assistant team manager.