June 18, 2006

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on India in West Indies 2006

In the cradle of Windies cricket

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
Cricket by the beach in Barbados, Barbados, June 17, 2006
 © Siddhartha V
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With an eight-days gap between the second and third Tests, I decided to take a diversion and pop into Barbados. Unlike any of the other islands we’ve visited, Barbados seemed to have an English feel about it. The Grantley Adams International Airport is a truly sleek construction, unlike the miniature settings in the other cities, and one could immediately sense the opulence floating through the country. The conversion rate tells you a story (1 USD is equivalent to 2 Bajan dollars). Needless to say, considering that the country primarily depends on tourism, it’s a beauty.

Strangely, this is the first island where one can feel the interest in cricket. In the other islands one saw a few stray instances of park/street/beach cricket – maybe it’s all because of my faulty eyes - but the passion wasn’t palpable. The ongoing football World Cup has obviously drawn a few away but the Bajans, it appears, still have time for the cricket. Club games abound in weekends and it’s pleasantly surprising to see around 50-100 spectators at a game between two top teams. As Ryan Hinds, playing for Empire Club, clobbered the trundling medium-pacers to different corners of the Banks Brewery ground, several enthusiasts gulped their beers and talked their cricket.

Talking cricket in the Caribbean has its own charm. One often gets into an endless conversation that shifts from topic to topic and soon realises the deep understanding of the game that the average West Indian fan possesses. A batsman’s technique is often scrutinised till its last detail and comparisons are often made with names from the past. As time flies, with the alcohol intake gradually increasing, one is likely to witness raucous arguments about who was greater than who and similar such. Hinds, meanwhile, continues to pound the Banks club bowling to pulp.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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