Bukka Rennie

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Stop the cricket!

March 23, 2005
By Bukka Rennie

If we have the guts, if we have the boldness of character, if we possess the kind of integrity that cannot be compromised, if we are not cowards, if we are made of the sterner stuff with which Caribbean history has in the past been so gloriously served, we will stop this blasted charade that passes for West Indian cricket, now. Stop it dead in its tracks and dare any treacherous dog to bark.

Who are these people who dare to call themselves "administrators?" From where do they get this power to dare defy the clamour of Caribbean people and select a Test team on criteria other than meritocracy?

Who and what do they represent? Moreover, what do they understand, assuming that they are capable of comprehending anything? Where did they grow up? Did they grow up in this Caribbean region when Sir Frank McCline Worrell straddled the cricketing world like a human colossus?

Do they not know that for over 500 years we have from time to time thrown up leaders like Worrell in varied professional fields in the effort to root out the system of social relations which pits the powerful against the subordinate and which seeks to confine the masses of people to being objects rather than subjects of history?

Imagine, in 2005, after all the exploits of our cricketing greats, we still cannot determine our own destiny. We are still being subjected to the whims and fancies of "governors" and "governor-lets" who stand insensitive to our deepest desires and our deepest hurts.

We are being commanded today to put a less than mediocre team on a Test pitch against South Africa by people who have claimed in the past to have dropped the word "control" from their acronym, WICB.

We have to go beyond blaming Digicel and Cable & Wireless for this sorry affair, once we are clear that they created the genesis of the immediate issue of team selection.

That is like continuing to blame the colonial masters for our present condition, when we have been responsible for our own affairs and our own direction for the past 40-odd years.

The problem is deeper. It is more about our myopia, our failing to move beyond the confines of the traditional way of seeing and doing. We have to chart our own waters and break new ground. To do this we cannot remain slaves to custom.

Digicel and Cable & Wireless are about doing business in the region for a profit, they are not about our cultural and social development, nor about our well-being. And if certain aspects of their doing business in the region, for example, their sponsorship of cricket, are negative to our well-being, then we curtail those aspects. It is as simple as that.

What the hell do the Barbadians mean when they insist that the politicians must stay out of this issue? They seem to be blinded by Digicel's petty dollars! This issue concerns all of us: politician, priest, pundit, layman-everyone, to the very last person, must have a say.

Once again, the chauvinistic proclivity of the Bajans has been revealed. The great Worrell, a son of their soil, but a great Caribbean leader, stood against their past desire to field their own Test team on the grounds that the idea was arrant nonsense and an absurdity that attempted to "prove the part greater than the whole."

Sir Frank stood up for West Indian cricket and Bajan sentiment turned viciously against him. That is why Sir Frank ended up taking a job at UWI, St Augustine.

Not surprisingly, they were the ones that boycotted a Test match against the very South Africans now due on tour because one particular Bajan bowler was not selected. And this is not to say that insularity does not rear its head all over the region but we must attack it wherever it appears.

In this very space we have called over and over for the best cricketing minds of the region to come together to work out the kind of infrastructure that is best suited to fashion our talents and develop our game for the future, mindful that the modern game is built around the astute marketing of our best products.

If Clico, as a regional corporate institution, can offer to buy out the cricket interests of both Digicel and C&W, what are we waiting for to make our move? And why haven't other corporate citizens like RBTT, Republic Bank, Guardian Life and Unit Trust etc made similar offers? We need as many options as possible.

We even called for the scrapping of the regional playoffs as organised at present on an island by island basis to allow for the development of professional clubs cutting across island borders, an approach that would surely curtail the island insularity that ferments, particularly as island playoffs are the basis for West Indian selection.

We were very impressed when Owen Arthur of Barbados made his sterling plea for the involvement of Cuba in Caricom. We were pleased not only about the economic possibilities of bringing in Cuba but, as well, we were hopeful that the cricket-playing localities of Cuba would eventually be brought home regionally.

Listen, there is too much at stake to allow this Test series to go on. It must be stopped dead in its tracks. Either the governments must step in or the Players Association (WIPA) must act to save the day by withdrawing all its members until the board is brought to its senses or to it knees. It is best we bury the board once and for all and put new structures in place.

Likewise, all plans for the 2007 World Cup must be shelved by the Government until this debacle is brought to an end.

Why are we so harsh, one may ask? And we answer as we have done before:

"...It is because cricket, that game of bat and ball and character, serves to energise a people, rekindle all their hopes and dreams and stirs their loins to face present and future challenges...

"It is about the masses of people who cannot be anything but honest about their human condition, who recognise that they are not perfect, who, as they face all the trials and tribulations of existence, take their personal weaknesses and failings as par for the course, and keep their sights on the Olympian mounts, knowing fully well that all that is ever necessary is that they and all amongst them give their best shot and seize the opportunities when the opportunities come along... and those who pray, pray, and seek solace and divine guidance to fulfil their talents and gifts of potential promise... and character is the result of the sum total of a people's history..."

We are reduced and minimised if our cricket is nothing.

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