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The Passion of the Prince

By Terry Joseph
March 26, 2004

The sight of West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara, the Prince of Port of Spain, wearing a virtual crown of thorns this week, repeatedly whipped and having to singularly bear the cross for collective transgressions, brought tears to his followers' eyes.

On the way to cricket's Calvary, a route lined by the likes of no-holds-barred commentator Colin Croft, the Prince was spat upon, jeered, received a couple of lashes from Tony Cozier, was generally castigated by the Pharisees, fined and put to further ignominy, after team manager Ricky "Pontius" Skerritt washed his hands of the whole affair.

While support for the Prince still came from good Samaritans, detractors were hell bent on a crucifixion. In fact, they had set out to nail him long before now, their purpose only strengthened after he disappointed the multitudes in Australia and again in South Africa, then failed to perform required marvels on the present pilgrimage.

Still, he shepherded his disciples into Jamaica and he told them what things would happen unto him if they could not pass the test, saying: "Behold, the Prince shall be delivered into the hands of scribes and commentators and they shall mock him and shall scourge him and shall spit upon him and shall kill him but on the third day he shall rise again."

As it happened, on the third day no such resurrection occurred and worse, he scored yet another duck. They were merciless unto him, saying he was richly talented and should have put on a greater show, perhaps even a miracle, but one among them said: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for this man to return to the pavilion in glory."

And it came to pass.

"If he is indeed the Prince, let him show us a sign," they said, but he could not deliver unto them. Things were falling apart. Several of his disciples were found in breach for going to the Mound of Red Stripe at Sabina and the Prince was soundly rebuked when he did show the umpire a sign but one, seen in poor light, looked like his middle finger was pointed toward The Father in Heaven.

His heart was heavy as he led the eleven to his village for the second test.

On the first day, he scored another duck and shortly before the Passover, he said unto the scribes: "We batted poorly and will have to shoulder the responsibility in the second innings to make a match of this. There are still three days to go and a lot of cricket to play."

They knew him well and understood the parable, although doubting Thomas thought he kept such miracles for emergencies like turning water into wine but still they followed him, waiting on the trick that would restore confidence. Even after the lofty speech, he failed again, dashing the hopes of his followers one more time.

Now, it had bothered "Pontius" Skerritt that disciples were strutting about as though triumphant and even more contrarily, had congregated in the temple of soca. He rebuked them, writing a scroll to the West Indies Cricket Board who, hindsight shows, may have been premature in dropping the word "control" from its title for, on the evidence, it was lack of it that forced his decision to abdicate.

In a show of anything but administrative savvy, the Board copied his memo, circulating it to the accused, asking for explanations and betimes betraying Skerritt's request for confidentiality, severely compromising his authority over the players, who were allegedly out of control, with members apparently doing precisely what pleased them; bringing further worry to already embattled followers.

But it had come to this and the Prince, as leader of the flock, was duly accused and convicted, with a group saying: "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Those in higher authority stood back as if without sin, adding de facto thumbs-down to the body of opinion that had already sentenced him.

And he, with pleading eyes, tried to conjure up a calm demeanour but must have been quietly thinking: "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" as they waylaid him, the scribes reporting faithfully that neither he nor his apostles had put up any resistance. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads and saying: "Ah, thou art the Prince. Save thyself."

The humiliation was complete, his voice weakened and he trembled, having come to the realisation that all was lost so far and now it was only a matter of saving face, restoring belief, perhaps but if even that couldn't be accomplished, he would no longer be able to claim he was "King of the Juice."

He had been their hero all the while, the anointed one, but now, even among diehard supporters, there was niggling doubt. If he couldn't save his reputation at this crucial time and had, even more incriminatingly, demoted himself in the batting order, what was to be expected from mere apostles?

But his staunch believers still saith: "He shall rise again, possibly in Barbados, even as they know in their hearts he could not singularly redeem all that had gone before and would possibly come in for more blows, more pain.

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