Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The wicket was sticky but it was really cricket.

There's a lot that goes into making a good cricket match, but a very small part of it is the score. A large part is the fun you have leading up to the match, the fun during the match, and hopefully the fun after the match when your team has won. Windies haven't given much cause for the last part in recent times so you better believe that the pre- and during-match fun gets more play. Let's bowl.

But the day started off with a damper--literally--rain was teeming down most of the morning and much of the afternoon as we looked out from the dizzy heights of a set of seats in Greenidge-Haynes stand, which gave a view onto the mountains of Barbados. What mountains? They look high from Kensington, which must be below sea level, I guess. Anyway, they looked high enough to be called big hills, if not mountains.

A bunch of tourists were having the best of times playing volleyball and football, and carrying on in the swimming pool in the newly vamped up party stand, with sand transported there to make a mock beach. Not a thing to do with cricket, but a lot to do with partee. Even without binoculars, I could see why the revellers were not ducking the rain. They had a pair of girls of stage winding their hips like snakes, even from the distance one lady's legs looked like a pair of boa constrictors trying to tie each other in knots. I covered my eyes, because I don't like snakes, but peeked a lot because the win'ing was good, boy.

Then we had the calypso and mento and sound of tyre rims being beaten. A Canadian friend, who had braved the heavy security to slide in his plastic bottle of rum, said he could not deny that he had no clue what was supposed to go on but he was learning how music could be made from almost anything.

Then out came the fish cakes, and the sandwiches, and the drink, and we waved the rags given to us by the sweet team from Digicel. The umpires came out at about 2.50. The heavy covers came off. The men brought out the box with the stumps, in a reverent fashion as befits all of cricket's traditions. Stumps were placed in the ground. Down came more rain. Off went everyone again, except the groundstaff in their lovely yellow sou'westers. The party went on. I was texting a friend with step by step details of what was going on, trying to tempt her and her hubsy to get out of their car park nest and come to the stadium. "Wha' fa'? It a rain." None of the details that showed that we would eventually play were going to dissaude her from pushing east and heading for a big feed at Jus' grillin', and so it turned out. The boos started to rain down from the crowd. The booze continued to go down the throat.

Meanwhile, we had paid our B$65 for our seats and our spirits were not being dampened. Our spirit was being downed, for sure, and we were getting a tad damp. No large golf umbrellas could be brought into the ground, according to the pre-match fliers for the Cricket Gestapo. So, I guess all those golf umbrellas that spouted up one the rain pelted people in the lower stands were growing out of people's heads, or did they have some little lapse in security that allowed in those hundreds of umbrellas? For true, the security was about as low as the pitch was set: "Cooler? Bottle? Howitzer? AK70? Yes, yes. Ignore the beeping. Pass in. Hurry up. Next." It wasn't like this for Cricket World Cup, when it took a good hour to pass through the gate; now we were done in 2 minutes. What? We don't care anymore? The terrorists only come when they think there will be worldwide TV coverage? Leave that for another day.

Light was fading, meaning it was getting near to 4pm, and we still don' see no ball bowl yet. We all remembered that this was the stadium of no lights, except those facing in towards the stands and inside the plush boxes--that they cannot rent. Back came the texter. "Look like is goin' to be 5-5 not 20-20. Is a hexpensive tikit dat! I'm tuckin' into grilled tuna." But I was going to get the last laugh. Please. Out came the umpires again. Crowd was getting very raucous now. Off came the heavy covers again. Then there was a short UN Summit meeting near the pitch. The man with the stumps came running. Players started to warm up: interesting that the Aussies kicked around and caught an Aussie Rules football, but the Windies boys kicked around a regular football--maybe a few were hoping to make last minute impressions to get selected for Barbados to maybe save them against the US soccer team on Sunday coming. This looked like the real thing. Players stretched, and sprinted and twisted, and yes, put on pads. Time coming! It was for real now, as the boundary ropes, resplendent with Johnnie Walker signage, were straightened out.

Before we got to the real event, I had one of those thoughts about how people treat cricket like a religion. I had to then wonder about the juxtaposition of the barely clad Digicel dancing girls in a row of seats right next to a fully clad group of Muslim ladies, who didn't react in anyway at the traditional dancing of the cricket religion.

But time to focus now. The first ball was bowled.I texted back my friend to remind her of her rash bet that she would eat she purse. I hoped she had left space past the tuna, and that enough pepper sauce was at hand to add flavour. Runs, running, run. Cricket was on. Not incident free. Poor Fidel Edwards had done too much of the football warm up and as the boy ran in for his first ball, saw the umpire and immediately went for a slide tackle. My wife's concerns about the rain and how it might be slippery and make it hard for the players to run and play properly were not misplaced, after all. Roach sent in a first ball that must have slipped from his hand and was a head high full toss that the Aussie player miraculously steered over his head. Body line?

The details of the match? If you must. Australia reeled off 97 runs and lost 3 wickets in 11 overs. Less than a hundred and we sure to win? First ball Windies faced? Dispatched for six. So it went on with Xavier Marshall knocking off runs like he was picking mangoes. Second over gave us 24 runs. Game done. Bravo--great name for the captain of the day--put some icing on the cake and put a few good balls including one six over our heads and over the roof. Yes, man! Windies threw away a few wickets--the grass was slippery--but finished with a six to make 102 for three wickets down. My wife never stopped talking afterwards about who was going to eat humble pie on Monday, and why did Market Vendor not have any faith that the boys could rally without Shiv Chandrapaul, Gayle, blah-blah. Now, she's Bahamian and they have so little cricket that Alan Stanford apparently had to give them a team for 20-20. Now she is a pundit to rival Tony Cozier; I think she is writing a book called "Cricket and Junkanoo-the unknown connections".

So, decked out in our cool maroon Windies ganzies and those tasteful red Dicigel bandana-scarf-rags, we hit the road for post match drinks and bickles and telling anyone who asked what the score had been. No one believed us and they just gave us more liquor and food for pity. But we had the last laugh. No dream. Windies did win, and it was time to celebrate.

1 comment:

Bajan Lass said...

Dennis: Accurate description of the event. However, you failed to tell your readers that the atmosphere at Kensington could be compared with that of a mini carnival following the West Indies win. This victory was something which those of us in the West Indies, and Barbados in particular, had been starved of for quite some time. Let's see if the team can repeat in the ODI's...