The last known recorded miracle occurred when our Lord Jesus turned water into wine 2,000 years ago. For the West Indies team to reach the semi-finals of the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup they will require a miracle and it is therefore highly unlikely, if not impossible, that this will happen.
West Indians in the UK are saddened and ashamed that the regional team has given a display that gratuitously would be described as pathetic. If this were not a publication read by children, other words would have been used.
Our journey to the finals has been labelled as fortunate, but having qualified, one expected far more than has so far been delivered. To recap, the victory against Pakistan was overwhelming and one wondered whether or not the team had peaked in the first game. Alas, this appears to have been the case.
West Indies proceeded to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Australia before humiliating defeats against England and Bangladesh followed a wash out against South Africa. These are the bare statistics in a summer in which it was thought we had an outside chance of winning the competition. Sadly, we have lost the chance and have been left outside.
The manner of the capitulation leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Searching questions need to be asked and answered by those in charge and also by the players. No one truly expects that each game will be won. But it is not asking too much that a cricket team representing the region should perform with fight and courage and a professionalism that would proudly carry the legacy bequeathed by the likes of Sir Garfied Sobers, Sir Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd and many other great players with dignity. We do not need emblems on our chests. We need courage in our hearts and fire in our bellies.
These players have performed as though they are not aware of the ethos of West Indies cricket and what it means to fellow West Indians, particularly those who live in the UK. The diaspora in the UK have little to showcase in the international sporting arena except an ability to compete successfully at a game that pits our small nation states against others in the world. It gives us the pride to walk tall in the streets of London, Birmingham, Manchester or wherever, because all across the country, West Indies and cricket go hand in glove.
We must ask whether or not the teams of this era are conscious or indeed, have been made aware, that to almost all West Indians across the globe cricket is more than a game. Has it been instilled in their minds that when they pull on the maroon colours that it is not about the money in their bank accounts but about the pride of a small nation of cricket lovers?
This summer has seen a vast number of visitors from all over the region who have come over to support the team. I have met and chatted with some of them. They are people who, through a love for the region, held an expectation that they could come, cheer and share the joys of a real Caribbean cricketing experience. They hoped to walk around the grounds with broad smiles rather than with the glum faces I encountered. And they have been sorely disappointed.
I met a business man and his wife who had come over from the Cayman Islands. As we sipped our beer, the pain was etched in his face as he talked about his trip. He said he could deal with the losses but the manner of the defeats was difficult to bare. Renard continued: “It is a long way to come to see the abject display that has been given today against the England team. My only joy has been to observe my wife’s enjoyment as she tucked into the Bajan fish cakes and coconut bread that were so generously offered by your country men. Otherwise, it has been a miserable day.”
A visitor from Florida was of the view that money had gotten in the way of pride in their performances. Kim said: “Look at the bling bling they all wear. Do you see that on the players of the other teams? West Indies players seem to worship the god of the Indian Premier League and appear not to care about their performances on the international field. To me, it seems like it is just another game to them. Florida to London is a long way to come to watch such rubbish.”
Sam is Antiguan, lives in London and is seen at all the games. He said he buys all his tickets and the whole tournament will cost him a hefty pound. Sam was too distraught to talk at length and would only offer: “I really cannot understand what has gone wrong with our cricket. It will be difficult to face my work mates tomorrow.” (Sam was speaking after the England game.) Sam is a glutton for punishment and was seen at the game on Monday where Bangladesh’s batsmen toyed with our ‘pie chucking’ fast bowlers.
I do not have a brief to write on cricket but what I do have is an appreciation of some of the points on the game that have not changed from the days of WG Grace and I simply ask: 1- Why do we need 5 or 6 medium fast bowlers in a 50-over game? 2- Have West Indies players been made aware that (a) no stroke, however far over the ropes, is worth 12 runs (b) singles and two are still legitimate currency and are recorded by the scorers and (c) cricket is a game played in the head as well as with bat and ball?
Finally, as I tire of watching our bowlers test the middle of the pitch with long hops at little more than medium pace, I am reminded of the captain who admonished his similarly offending bowler with the words: “If I were a groundsman, you would not be allowed to bowl on my wicket.”
Vincent ‘Boo’ Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser.
He is passionate about the development of his island home and disapora.