June 1, 2010

West Indies

Heat, rage and yet more defeat

Andrew Hughes


Gayle: astute readers would know from the curve of his eyebrows that he's thinking about marshmallows, axe murderers and interior decor at this moment © AFP
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There have to be more games in Dominica. In contrast to some of the windswept new constructions we have seen elsewhere in the Caribbean, which appear to have been thrown up on marshland in the most inhospitable parts of the island, this was a beautiful locale, surely challenging the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala as the most stunning cricket venue in the world. The camera spent as much time lingering over the tree-carpeted mountains and the port of Roseau as it did pointing at the cricket.

And there was a full house. It took time for the ground to fill up, but then this was Sunday and there was church business to attend to. But by the time Chanderpaul had dropped anchor, the ground was full of parasol-wielding Dominicans, fanning themselves with scorecards and, away from the well-behaved stands, dancing, singing and causing a racket with a range of musical instruments, from a wheezy trombone to what appeared to be a small plastic horn attached to a length of garden hose.

It looked furiously hot out there. The occasional shots of the interior of the island, particularly the ice-cool emerald pool and the teeming waterfalls, were a welcome relief from watching all that perspiration. The South African jerseys appeared to be a mottled affair in three shades: dark green, light green and sweaty green. For a while Jacques Kallis, standing motionless at slip, reminded me of nothing so much as an enormous overfed lizard basking in the sun.

Chris Gayle doesn’t sweat, of course, but he was fuming. How can you tell? It is all in the angle of the head. Experienced Gayle watchers have learned to spot by the inclination of the Gayle cranium whether he is ecstatic with joy or about to strangle someone with his bare hands. Sulieman Benn, unfortunately, has not picked up this useful skill, and so when he refused to bowl around the wicket as outside his competence, he was informed by his captain that his services were no longer required.

Was he within his rights? Is this an anti-Barbadian stance? Or is it just the kind of thing that happens when it is just too damn hot and you’re losing 0-4? The heat gets people riled up, makes them want to lash out. During the course of the afternoon’s play, even the Bish became irritated and, temporarily abandoning his lofty perch of judgement, came down into the valley, fists swinging as he railed against administrators, players, selectors and everyone who has played their part in achieving the squalid status quo.

As ever when these Titans of Caribbean Cricket thunder their condemnation, it was hard to disagree, but equally hard to see what is going to change. The talent is there, it forces its way through, and there are plenty more like Darren Bravo and Adrian Barath. But when these talented youngsters get to the top, just as with England in the nineties, they find they are on their own. When the best thing to have happened to West Indies cricket in the last decade is a Texan fraudster with delusions of grandeur, then the writing is on the wall.

On Sunday the gods of cricket even played a nasty little trick on the home side, luring them into believing that they might, despite their jaded fielding and slow-motion batting, be able to win after all. The crowd, desperate to see a home win, delayed their exit. Incredibly, South Africa still needed one to win off the final ball. Then the inevitable misfield, fumble and act of frustration, as Bravo gave the stumps a good smack. The people of Dominica sighed and mundane normality was returned. They deserve better. They may have to wait a while.

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Posted by ricardo leacock on (June 2, 2010, 21:54 GMT)

Suileman Benn was wrong . Any employee who fails to do as the "boss" orders has provided grounds for dismissal. to say you cannot do it due to incompetence is admitting that you are in the wrong job in the first place.That aside, how long has Chris Gayle been told of his chancy, carefree, irresponsible batting? i think it was maybe the 2nd or 3rd one day against SA where he was dropped twice and still didn't change his approach. He fell shortly after, offering a third catch and leaving the team in trouble. My point? Nonone seems able to tell him how to bat, he does as he chooses in that department, so how is it you send a guy off the field when he refuses to let you dictate how he should bowl? Double standards !I'll not be shocked when Samuels is rushed back in.Insularity and double standards will be the death of this team. Oh sorry, its already dead!

Posted by Srikanth on (June 2, 2010, 5:13 GMT)

The Gayle-Benn confrontation could surely have been avoided. Goes against the spirit of the Carribbean. I have always enjoyed the calypso brand of cricket - pure sportsmanship irrespective of winning or losing. Their captains always used to say -May the better team win, at a time when others were saying, May the better team win (may 'we' be the better team). From the invincibles under Lloyd to the occassionally brilliant under Lara the decline has been rapid. Their strength which lay in bowling and producing tall fast bowlers is now a thing of the past. With Ambrose and Walsh's retirement all was lost. Agreed that today's bunch has the talent, but the determination and the ability to gel as a team is missing. Occassionally a Bravo celebration and a Gayle jig still reminds us that not all is lost and the Calypso brand of cricket - fearsome, entertaining and inspiring- will re-emerge. Hoping for that day soon.

Posted by sultan ally on (June 2, 2010, 3:53 GMT)

The captaincy should be wrested from Gail. He is not creative, he is not inspirational, he is not a leader. He is a very god batsman. Give the captaincy to Ganga. He will lead this side to some victories. He connot do any worse than many of those who have been tried in the middle. sultan

Posted by Carlisle Jno Baptiste on (June 2, 2010, 1:56 GMT)

Great piece of writing as a Dominican Journalist, I totally agree with it....

Thanks for the writing you have done justice to us in Dominica and do come back again.

Cheers

Posted by allan simpson on (June 2, 2010, 1:29 GMT)

It has to be a very tough call on a captain to ask his player to exit the field and it only reflects the altitude of intolerance and discontentment of what is going on.The west indies team has found themselves in alot good positions,they dismissed South Africa for two low totals in the T20 and lost,then scoring in excess of 300 and giving it away.One has to understand that despite what happens,the captain has to shoulder the responsibilities of the team's performance,he has to face the post match interview and justify what went on the field.It cannot be acceptable that at International Level,a specialist bowler cannot fulfil his captain's rerquest especially with a string of losses,your team in a good position to finally pull one off and the bowlers can't do it.That's grossly inconceivable.I think your actions are justified sir!

Posted by Frosty on (June 2, 2010, 0:54 GMT)

Gayle did the correct thing, losing is bad enough, disobedience in the ranks is criminal - Benn has been playing in these temperatures all his life so he has to be put in the cooler and thought a lesson before he runs out of leash................

Posted by Observer on (June 2, 2010, 0:41 GMT)

Dominica.. Beautiful island. Great cricket game. Great article.

Posted by Anonymous on (June 2, 2010, 0:11 GMT)

Viv (Sir) Richards did that to Richard Gabriel in a test matchh in Australia, The latter having misfielded a ball which went to the boundry. But Chris gale is no Viv Richards!

Posted by Bajan Man on (June 1, 2010, 22:38 GMT)

Sulieman Benn should never be allowed to play cricket for the West Indies again. He should not be allowed to represent Barbados again either. He is a disgrace to West Indies cricket.

Posted by Hollis Hosein on (June 1, 2010, 22:35 GMT)

If we lose after a real fight , then there is hope. There may be other options to discipline Benn but sending him packing off the field is one that I am fully in agreement.Joey Carew sent Richard Gabriel off for misfielding. Its a pity Benn wasn't sent home and there are others in this team to go.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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