December 20, 2013

Supporting WI for almost 50 years

West Indian supporters have been few and far between in New Zealand, but in the shade on the Hamilton boundary one recalls his years of following the team

Being a West Indies supporter these days tests patience and faith. One moment they are offering the teasing prospect of improvement, the next they are crashing to a three-day innings defeat.

There are plenty of fans, though, who don't give up. Two of them were sat under shady tree at Seddon Park, offering plenty of advice to Darren Sammy. Ray Walters and Trevor Williams have travelled from London and have been at all three Tests alongside Brenda Boyce, the widow of former West Indies fast bowler Keith Boyce who has come across from Barbados.

They have a West Indies flag draped over their legs. They have become something of minor celebrities in Hamilton. West Indies supporters have been few and far between at the grounds for this series. It's a heck of a long way to come. There's a lone Jamaican flag on the other side of the ground and Trevor points out the Trinidad colours as well. They are excited to hear that Franklyn Rose was at the ground. "I have a message to pass onto him," Trevor says curiously, "but I'll have to do it myself."

Trevor watched his first West Indies Test in 1965, Bobby Simpson's Australia, when he was 13. He moved to England in 1975 and has clocked up a vast number of Test matches. Every time West Indies have visited England since 1976 he has been there - "although perhaps not for every day, I still had to work" - and has also travelled to watch his team in South Africa and India.

This is his first trip to New Zealand, but Ray's second although his previous time was not linked to the cricket. He was a technician for UB40 and Simply Red when they were on tour. He loved New Zealand and promised himself to come back for the cricket one day. Trevor's next ambition is to visit Australia and Sri Lanka.

Trevor can tick off having watched many of the great names in West Indies history. Who was his favourite? "Lawrence Rowe," he says. "He scored 200 and 100 in his first Test, against New Zealand, and I saw every ball."

And what about the current generation? "I'm not sure the talent is there. Maybe there's too much money around, I'm not sure."

As we chat, it's during tea on the second day and New Zealand are under a hint of pressure after West Indies' impressive first-day fightback led by Denesh Ramdin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. At 86 for 5 it hadn't looked good at all. "We were all feeling a bit pessimistic," Trevor says, "but, I tell you what, I slept a lot better that night."

West Indies' supporters don't expect miracles. They just want their team to fight. Regardless, though, Trevor will keep on following them around the world.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo