Sunday, December 17, 2017

The crux of the matter

Too many questions. Not enough space. It’s flattering to be asked for an opinion on cricketing issues, although you often wonder if the questioner is really interested in entertaining a different point of view or merely wants validation of his or her own perspective. For what it’s worth though, here are responses to some matters that came up over the past week.

Question: You hear about the latest bacchanal with (name withheld) that gone viral? Answer: No, and I’m not interested. One of the very, very few regrets of being involved in the sports media is getting to really know prominent personalities who were previously admired for their cricketing ability from a comfortable distance. Not all fall into the category of obnoxious, pompous jackasses of course, but there are more than enough who fit the bill so as to make all this “role model” talk complete foolishness.

Role model on the field of play, maybe. But whatever it is they’re getting up to beyond the boundary is of absolutely no interest to me. Why so many are so fascinated with the salacious private lives of prominent sports personalities is a little bit bewildering, because expecting moral rectitude from high-profile individuals in an immoral, increasingly hedonistic society is more than a little hypocritical.

Question: You think the new captain could handle them West Indians? Answer: Even in the market, when I’m extracting $12 from the wallet to pay for a handful of bodi, disciples of Denesh Ramdin are concerned that he is going to be set up by “them” (meaning all the non-Trinis, of course) and then be sacked as a failure.

It’s no longer intriguing to see how parochially defensive people can be when it comes to the regional team, concocting conspiracy theories well in advance in anticipation of some dastardly plot to undermine their hero, just because he happens to come from our beloved twin-island paradise, or worse, that he is of Indian descent and will therefore have to face the black brethren who will do anything to make the new captain look bad.

All of which conveniently overlooks the well-established reality that the West Indies, especially in Test cricket, are distressingly mediocre and have been for the better part of the last 19 years. Every other captain since 1995 was apparently an incompetent joker.

But Lara, Ganga and now Ramdin (even Chanderpaul and Sarwan because they’re “Indian”)? Well, it surely can’t be their fault when the team loses, can it? Heartening to know then that there will be enough black fellas to take the blame from the first Test against New Zealand starting on Sunday in Kingston.

Question: You heard Sir George Alleyne’s brilliant address at the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Committee thing last Tuesday? Answer: No, because even though I’m not allergic to cobwebs and I’m sure the committee members are all very well-intentioned, why would I want to endure another exercise featuring the same group of people speaking to the same dwindling audience, trying to show how bright they are while failing to make any effort to connect with contemporary cricketers or a younger audience generally?

Look, I hosted (and was promptly paid, I might add) for hosting the SFWMC’s media interactive session the day before at the Queen’s Park Oval, and even though the assembled media practitioners’ failure to interact with Sir Wes Hall and Tony Cozier spoke volumes, at least this was an effort to reach the wider community.

But the by-invitation-only event on Tuesday up at UWI? I’m trying to think of someone who plays cricket at the moment and would be entranced by the Chancellor’s reference to the “classic Pygmalion effect” or his assertion that the arguments put forward for Worrell to be the first appointed black West Indies captain in 1960 “created a vis a tergo so strong that the collected clamour for cricketing justice could not be denied.”

This is not about dumbing down the message but taking off those colonial vestments and connecting with ordinary people on a topic they need to understand. I first learnt about Sir Frank reading a comic book about his life 40 years ago, and I know that I know more and have a greater appreciation of his contribution to the West Indies and the cricketing world than some of those supposed legends who rubbished his legacy in that shameless piece of shabby propaganda known as “Fire in Babylon”.

Question: What it is the West Indies Board have against Sunil Narine? Answer: Nothing. Just read TC’s assessment of the situation in yesterday’s Express. Then again, no kind of explanation will shift you from your opinion, will it? Sometimes I wonder why people even bother to ask questions.