I never expected to see the day when Marlene Coudray would become more high profiled in T&T than Chris Gayle but such appears to be the case. Both are involved in seemingly never ending turmoil, but whatever happens to Gayle, Somerset and WICB really has no effect on the governance of T&T. However, the Coudray issue between UNC and COP and everything/everyone in between is having a negative effect on the minds of citizens where confidence in leadership is concerned, emergency meetings or not. Do we want to remain Third World forever? If world politics were a football league, T&T might be relegated to Fourth World status and if WI coach Otis Gibson needs an extra spinner in England, we have an abundance of PR “spinners” to suggest.
50 not out and going strong
May 2 was the birthday of the two Bryans/Brians—Davis and Lara—and all sportspeople wish them many happy and healthy years ahead. I go back to 1961 with Bryan, practicing in the Oval nets when I returned from university and in 1963 while working at Trinmar, I used to book a vacant office where employees could meet Bryan to discuss personal insurance matters. Being a northerner, Bryan thought that Trinmar was at the other end of the planet and needed a compass and his passport to get there, but I reminded him that twice a week I had to drive the same distance to the Oval for practice so I could keep my place on the Queen’s Park ‘A’ team. I think that gained his respect! In 1965, I was so proud to see Bryan walk out to bat for WI against Australia at the Oval and say to myself “I know that guy!”, and in 1968 while I was working in Zambia and Bryan was playing for Glamorgan in the English County Championship, we carried on an ongoing correspondence, which letters I still have stacked somewhere. Last week I spent some time in Bryan’s Q.P.Oval office while his son Gregory coached my grandson Dominic in the indoor nets. It feels good to know our personal partnership has passed 50 years and both of us are still not out!
Good fortune smiles on Sunil
It seems that good fortune has smiled kindly and perhaps unexpectedly on off-spinner Sunil Narine, who if all goes well and with proper planning, should enjoy the next decade of his life without too many financial worries. A few months ago, the outside cricket world had hardly heard of Narine until out of the blue he was offered a $US 700,000 IPL contract. Whoever made that decision should be nicknamed “Mr. Perceptive” because the results so far have been very positive. I have watched Narine play in six of his seven games so far and he now lies third in number of wickets taken (12) and second in the RPO table (5.64). More important than his actual statistics are the ongoing compliments paid him by the various commentators most of whom identify him as the “mystery bowler”. Given that he will continue to enjoy success, it seems a good bet that he will be in great demand wherever T20 tournaments are held, which is not good news for West Indies selectors.
Injury Possibility Likely or IPL
Unfortunately, the same may not be said about Kevon Cooper who signed on for US$50,000 and who quickly established a top class reputation until he allegedly (the in-word to avoid a lawsuit!) fractured a knee attempting to take a running catch on the boundary, which I saw happen. Cooper is out for the remaining IPL matches and two questions are (a) regarding his injury, how will IPL deal with the situation in terms of compensation and medical expenses / treatment? (b) might this allegedly serious injury affect his future in cricket? Kieron Pollard is also out temporarily with a shoulder injury which I also saw take place, and which may affect his bowling and throwing if not his batting. When you add the injuries to the likes of Tendulkar and Adam Gilcrist, maybe the acronym IPL should stand for Injury Possibility Likely. Despite the injuries, the IPL crowds – which have exceeded 1,000,000 - continue to sizzle, and in the 44 matches played so far, 410 sixes have been hit (9.3 per game!) – not a bad scoring rate! Chris Gayle has now hit 99 sixes in his IPL career including 29 this year.
How times have changed
When I was a youngster my three favourite football teams in England were Wolverhampton (Wolves), Arsenal and Blackpool. England captain Billy Wright and goalkeeper Bert Williams played for Wolves which won the League championship a few times; the great Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen played for Blackpool and England for countless years, and the Compton brothers, Denis (England batsman) and Leslie lined up for the “Gunners”. In 1951 my Dad took my brother Chris and me to Highbury to see Arsenal play and because we wore a red and white supporter’s scarf, a lady fan gave us a sixpence for being so loyal, and taught us how to shout “Up the Gunners” with appropriate gusto. I can re-live that like yesterday! Now when I look at the League table, Arsenal is 4th, Wolves lies at the bottom and will be relegated and Blackpool is no longer in the Premier League. How times change!
The uncertainties of sport
Wigan never entered my brain until last month when in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation, the club produced out of the blue wins against Manchester United and Arsenal in successive weeks and then added a 4-0 victory over fifth placed Newcastle to stay above the four bottom clubs. The Relegation Derby can be exciting! At the time of writing, Newcastle has just overtaken Chelsea for fourth spot in the table and Manchester City is ahead of United on goal average, so by the time you read this, local football fanatics would know who finished where in the Premier League. I hope you were lucky enough to witness the two goals scored by Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse against Chelsea – you will not see many better.
Things money can’t buy
Two events took place last week which did not appear on CNN News but are important nevertheless in a local context. First was the Youth Training Centre (YTC) annual sports day when the 15 dormitories participated in the March Past and there were many races for the young inmates, their parents, siblings and friends. I take my hat off to the YTC officers who give extra time and personal resources to ensure a good day is enjoyed by all, and even though the lads may have done something wrong and must stand the consequences, they are still in dire need of love, caring and recognition and a sports day is a great motivator. The key question which influences officers and volunteers is: “if he were my son or grandson, wouldn’t I hope and pray that someone would be kind enough to help him in a small way?” Try to imagine what it is like to give a teenager who has committed a crime something extra to eat and hear him say: “please tell the Macaroni Lady her food was delicious and thank her for thinking of me.” Money cannot buy such an experience!
Perfect message for teens
The other meaningful occasion was the fifth Guidance Day for the 30 winners of Daren Ganga’s Scholarship Programme which was held in Barrackpore and attended by the boys and girls along with their parents. The purpose is to educate through short lectures on special topics such as behaviour, nutrition and academic discipline as well as the distribution of funds for the following three months. We always encourage the winners to try to be “different” in a positive way since they are remembered for these differences, and I always think of “Brandon” aged 12 when I first met him at his home and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. I expected him to say like all young cricketers, “to play for the West Indies”. Instead he answered: “I just want to grow up to be a good person.” How is that for being “different”? What a perfect message for all teenagers!
T&T jockeys set for Northlands Park
It was good to receive a phone call from jockey Nela Mohammed confirming that he, Ronald Ali and Stanley Chadee had arrived safely in Edmonton, Canada and had settled down nicely. The season at Northlands Park started on Friday and Saturday, and all three jockeys had secured mounts. Two summers ago when I visited my brother in Calgary, we drove four hours to Edmonton to see Nela ride, so I can relate to the track, stands, jockey room and other facilities which make it easier to communicate with him. Jockeys are often criticized but each of them possesses some lovely character traits such as courtesy and thoughtfulness of which the public is not always aware.
May God bless you and yours and let us look for the good in others so they will do the same for us.