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Rudder had a feeling

By Terry Joseph
April 16, 2004

A WHITEWASH, even from the Zimbabwe cricket team, wouldn't hurt as much as the English trouncing us on home turf because, in the latter example, there is a sense of history repeating itself in an unflattering kind of way; according to calypso superstar David Rudder.

In Jamaica as a UNDP Ambassador to perform at last night's Caribbean Legends in Concert, a charity show for that country's Aids Foundation, held on the grounds of Prime Minister PJ Patterson's official residence, whose playbill also includes the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Pluto Shervington, Ken Lazarus and Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, Rudder said he quietly celebrated Lara's achievement.

Speaking yesterday from his hotel room, Rudder, whose song, Rally 'Round the West Indies has been an anthem for the regional team, said:

"Firstly, I wish to congratulate Brian Lara on his superb innings and record-breaking score. On another level, his leadership of the team also delivered a formidable score.

"Although I didn't imagine it would be this significant, I did have a strong feeling something good would happen in Antigua, because there was a strange pattern emerging. Ever since the Australia tour, it was noticeable that our team would do badly until the last test when, with nothing to lose, they would achieve something magical.

"In terms of Brian's accomplishment and future-both as captain and player-I have been listening to comments coming from around the Caribbean region particularly and I want to ask that we resist the temptation to ride on the back of a single man, to pin all our hopes on an individual when he is part of a team. It has gotten us into trouble before and we seem to be heading down the same path again.

"You see, genius and complacency walk the same road. At the end of the day, for all the brilliance in a particular individual, he or she still needs something as a motivator, something to make the person dig deep again, having done all the things. There has to be something to force the spirit to rise one more time.

"What I suspect moved Brian was that sense of history. You have to realise the responsibility on a captain leading a team against England. The humiliation and symbolism of England coming down here to win after thirty-something years is something that we would read differently from a lot of youngsters.

"To them, England winning is nothing because, 'it is just a game' but we who know the history of these matters have a different take on it. Brian is at the trailing edge of the last generation to take these things seriously and understand the symbolism. I am not sure if all his players would see the thing the same way.

"We have a whole new generation with a tremendous amount of energy but different perspectives. You can see it in the music. There is no shortage of energy but no melody. Their lives proceed in the same way, without the sense of history and you cannot tell them they don't know.

"I remember when the South Africa team was home last time, I went to a reception for Clyde Walcott and a member of our team asked him if he ever played cricket. That is the kind of headspace we are dealing with so while Lara might understand the larger picture, a lot of his teammates may be there for just game and glory, thinking they have nothing else to defend.

"Some of this shows up in the indiscipline you so often hear about. In fact, if you check results, the team has lacked the required level of discipline for a long time. It has been seven years of losing, you know. I remember the great Clive Lloyd team deriving motivation from the five to one loss against Ian Chappell's Australia and that was a team with lots of stars, including Deryck Murray.

"The thinking across the camp was that this must not happen again. It is West Indians who created the term 'blackwash' so, while no one wishes to introduce the race card, lots of people must have thought that the idea of white people returning, as it were, to beat us on this level was significant enough to label the issue in terms of colour.

"The pride, you see, was one of the motivators, so it wasn't a racist position but one of regional pride from the people of independent states.

Lloyd himself told me the story of when he got his first West Indies blazer.

He said he wore it all day and into the night, until his mother made him take it off-he was so proud to be a member of the team appointed to defend our pride.

"I am hoping, I am sure like a lot of people in the region, I am hoping that we take notice of the scientific level to which the game has been brought and try to inject this new thinking into not only the team members but those responsible for their preparation, so a number of things can change to sustain this sudden momentum.

"I am also hoping this does not become Brian's singular burden. His work has given us a new lease on life in the cricket spotlight but he is working with a team. We must not now expect him to deliver a series of double and triple centuries and certainly not expect him to score 400 every time he goes to the crease," Rudder said.

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