What the heck!

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Sports is really the purview of our outstanding sports team here at NEWSCO. We’re talking about Neto Baptiste, Jo-Jo Apparicio and Carlena Knight. If you ask us, we’ll tell you, without fear of contradiction, that we have the very best sports coverage in town. Our back pages are award-winning, as is the wildly popular and critically acclaimed GOOD MORNING JO-JO SPORTS show. Nonetheless, after this most recent disheartening series loss by the West Indies to England, we feel constrained to add our editorial opinion to the growing voices of discontent.

What a gutless and weak-hearted team! What a feckless and pusillanimous response to a challenge! What a letdown to a series that initially held so much hope! Especially after our spirited win by 4 wickets in Southampton in the first match of the three-match encounter. All that was asked of our boys was that they win another. After all, this was the first series after the doom and gloom caused by Covid. This was the first outing after the shut-down.  This was the series that came along just when England and the rest of the colonial world was waking up to its dastardly ‘foot on the black man’s neck,’ and the fact that BLACK LIVES MATTER, and that there was enormous ingratitude meted out to the WINDRUSH generation, and that reparations for generational damage done are due.   We stood on the cusp of a new assertiveness; a new consciousness; a New World Order, if you will. A win by our boys would have been a boost to our spirits! Remember, as the late C.L.R James and Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector often asserted, cricket is a metaphor for life. It is more than just a game!

Indeed, it would have been a source of enormous pride to our West Indian brethren in England if our boys could have walked away with the Wisden Trophy. Just about three weeks ago, Sir Vivian Richards, he who never lost a Test series in his stellar career as captain of the West Indies, in a glowing endorsement of the political leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, said that it gave him a great deal of pride to see Mr. Lovell show up at all his games in England. He felt that he had to live up to the hopes and expectations of his fellow-countryman, and all the other West Indians in the diaspora. Michael Holding, he of the feared quartet of fast bowlers, Sir Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft, said that they were once playing a game in England, and thousands of West Indians showed up to proudly root for the team and watch it put a beating on the English. Holding recounts that for whatever reason, Captain Clive Lloyd called the team to the dressing room before the game and instructed them to play, not to win or to lose, merely to draw. It is said that the West Indians in the diaspora began to boo at the team’s overly-cautious style of play, and at the end of the game, even though the West indies had not lost, neither had they won, much to the  disgust of the fans. Suffice it to say, hundreds of irate fans waited outside the stadium to berate the team for its lilly-livered performance. They told Lloyd and the rest of the team words to the effect that they should have played to win the bloody game.

Sadly, this current West Indies team seems unable to do anything but lose. Our very own Jo-Jo Apparicio ruefully spoke of this team’s lack of ‘cojones.’ Especially the feeble-minded captain, Jason Holder. Neto Baptiste concurred. As did a number of ticked-off callers and WhatsAppers to the aforementioned Jo-Jo Sports show. In today’s DAILY OBSERVER, no less an authority than Sir Curtly Ambrose, another fearsome Antiguan fast-bowler in his day, remarked with obvious disdain, “We can’t keep playing some of these players who keep failing and don’t even look like they are going to score any runs or whatever the case might be. The opening positions, right now, Brathwaite and Campbell are totally out of sorts and I say that quite straight up, so we need to look at maybe two new opening batsmen and start fresh next series . . . Shai Hope, I’ve mentioned before that he is woefully out of form, something is wrong with him, he has no confidence and he’s struggling . . .” [See today’s back page headline story].  Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, or Gordon Greenidge and Roy Fredericks, these iconic opening batsmen, they certainly are not. Sir Curtly is of the mind that only the bowlers, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph are worth keeping.  We subscribe to his candid thinking on this matter.

 We also echo the words of the 1962 New York Mets manager, the legendary Casey Stengel, who was so discouraged at his team’s repeated awful play, that he declared in exasperation, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” We have been asking that self-same question, not only of this team, but recent West Indies teams. It is pathetic! Everywhere we go, ‘we get blow’ on our ‘candy’ behinds. And the proud swagger with which West Indies’ fans all over the world – in Australia, England, Pakistan, India would walk, knowing that our boys were masters of the cricketing universe, is no more. Because our cricketers are like pussy-cats – meek and mild! No intestinal fortitude! No brash, bold play! No indomitable will to win! Recent West Indies teams have dropped the ball, and seem unworthy of the revered West Indies maroon cap. We submit that Sir Everton Weekes, God rest his sainted soul, who went home two weeks ago to join Sir Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott in that glorious cricket game in the Great Beyond, must be discomfited in his grave.

It has been said that cricket is “a game of glorious uncertainties and shifting fortunes,” but with these West Indies teams of recent times, jt has become almost a near certainty that, no matter how much the games are handed to us on a platter, we will still find a way to lose! Good grief! We will find a way to ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.’ Whatever happened to the grand tradition of Sir Viv, for whom “No bowler held a terror; not Thompson or Lillee / Not Bedi or Chandrasekhar?” Whatever happened to “Perfect coordination of body and mind / That brother is really dynamite / Pace or spin; he don’t give a damn what yuh bowlin’ him / Fast or slowly; yuh goin’ back to de boundary!” [King Short Shirt, VIVIAN RICHARDS] Sigh!

The story is told of how Chris Cowdrey, an England Test captain, once met Sir Viv before a game to declare his player line-up. He’d barely begun his recitation when Sir Viv interrupted him and said that he did not want to hear anymore, because it mattered not who England picked to play, the result would still be an ‘ass-whuppin’ at the hands of the West Indies! Oh for the day when we will once again be able to sing with a joyful surety, as we did back in those days, “Lead on Andy; lead on Vivi / Lead us on to victory . . .

We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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