Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Waiting for the next sure thing


BIG BLAST: Guyana wicket-keeper Derwin Christian, left, looks on a Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) batsman Chadwick Walton launches the ball for a straight six during their Caribbean T20 match on Monday night at Queen's Park Oval. Walton topscored for CCC with 99 not out in their total of 159 for three, but Guyana reached the 160 for eight off the final delivery. –—Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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Before a ball was bowled on Monday afternoon, who could have forseen that Guyana would need the last ball of the match to beat Combined Colleges and Campuses (CCC) in their Caribbean Twenty20 clash?

With the low-scoring mismatch in the first game of the afternoon between Barbados and the Leeward Islands, it could hardly have been conceived that CCC would get as much as 159 in their innings. But having got to 136 for five with three overs left, the few on hand at the Queen's Park Oval that night would probably not then have anticipated that the Guyanese would proceed to lose four wickets for five runs to set up the drama of the last over and ball, where Devendra Bishoo and his captain Veerasammy Permaul scrambled the winning run.

One could say such error-strewn frenzy is typical both of the T20 game and regional cricket nowadays. Contests like that one though, make for compelling watching. Did you notice the happiness on the faces of those Guyanese players when it was confirmed that the last run was good? It was as if they had just won the grand final, not the opening match, and a game they would have been favourites to win anyway.

The tournament will need more games like that in order to match the ESPN-generated hype and bring out the spectators so patently lacking it seems, when Trinidad and Tobago are not down to play.

Thinking about that match, I was reminded again about why with every new year, we followers and players of sport can have genuine cause for optimism. It is not self delusion or some denial of reality.

It is not as if the people in local football, for instance, can ignore the case of the 2006 Soca Warriors and their still unresolved court business with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF). New TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee will have to find a way to settle this matter; the administration can't start building a solid financial base without settling completely or at least going some way to settling its many debts, in this case and in others. Mr Tim Kee cannot truthfully speak of a new dispensation and attempt to brush aside outstanding payments to coaches and technical staff past and present. Not that he is inclined to do so.

But the TTFF boss will also remember that despite all the turbulence he stepped into last year, the senior team that was put out of World Cup qualifying by unspectacular Guyana, still found themselves playing for the Caribbean Cup itself in December's final. Totally unexpected, that was, out of the blue almost.

Speaking of turbulence, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dr Julian Hunte can write a book about the trials and tribulations of the Caribbean game. Last year, his organisation found itself back and forth in court with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) over an assortment of matters. And Hunte's WICB found itself losing all of those that were completed. If the challenge from its players was not challenging and embarrassing enough, the regional board also found itself at odds with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller over the Chris Gayle impasse.

The WICB is also still not on good terms with the Government of Guyana because of its objection to the Government-appointed Interim Management Committee, supposedly running the affairs of Guyana's cricket, but studiously ignored by the WICB, which continues to do business with remnants of the old Board who are under a court injunction, and thus not legally authorised to function.

The final outcome of that messy matter is hard to predict, but one suspects history will not look favourably upon the WICB's overall approach to this issue. But it is all of this that Hunte presided over in 2012. However, along came the World T20 and the West Indies Gangnam Gang's first international title in eight years.

It may be true that the Windies had been hyped as potential tournament winners; but nothing in the erratic, flatter-to-deceive recent history of WI cricket suggested that hype would become reality last year. But it did. So as he faces up to another 12 months with the overall health of West Indies cricket still delicate, Dr Hunte will always be a believer in miracles.

And speaking of miracles, hardly anyone in these two islands will soon forget the Olympic javelin competition last August in London.

Silver medallist Oleksandr Pyatnytsya of Ukraine and bronze man Antti Ruuskanen of Finland must probably still wonder at how the fellow from Trinidad and Tobago, Keshorn Walcott out-threw them for gold. It was you might remember, Walcott's first senior competition at international level. The 19-year-old had gone to London after just having become the World Junior champion. He came back as 2012's king of the javelin. It was as stunning a triumph as the Olympics had seen in its history.

At that point, the disappointing results of medal hopefuls Kelly-Ann Baptiste and George Bovell would have been forgotten; cast to the back of the collective consciousness like old clothes in the cupboard. In fact the unfulfilled gold medal hopes of all the Olympics since Hasely Crawford's golden strike in Montreal 1976 would not have mattered last August. Out of the blue, history looked different.

As if that was not enough, Bovell's impressive end to 2012, topped off by World Short Course bronze in the 100 individual medley, was a lagniappe.

So reader, as the new year rolls out, don't steups too much when the outstanding moments don't seem to come as hoped. The next big one is around the corner, somewhere. It is sure, sure to come.