Yes, we have no bandanas

Christine Davey at Bridgetown

May 2, 2003

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West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2

For the fashion conscious, here's a tip. The pirate look is in. Perhaps we should lay the blame on Adam and the Ants, who in the 1980s turned up the jukebox and "did us all a favour" by reinventing buckles and billowing sleeves. Perhaps it's just the salt, sea and sunshine of the Caribbean, exposing latent tendencies towards gold earrings and shoulder parrots. Whatever the reasons, on the first day of the Third Test at Kensington Oval, there was a buccaneering atmosphere at work. And the majority of cricket fans had the bandanas to prove it.

It helped that on the previous day, many had taken up the challenge of the Jolly Roger cruise. For $US60 punters receive a four-hour all-inclusive trip up the Bajan West Coast. Along the way there's snorkelling, conga lines, and more piratey activities than you can poke a cutlass at. Revellers are "forced" to walk the plank, and the high point is a mock wedding where the newly-hitched Mr And Mrs Pirate are presented with eye patches. It's all good, gimmicky fun, and at the end of the trip, as the 150 cruisers were sent ashore to rediscover their land legs, one thing was clear. The hottest-selling item of the day was the skull-and-crossbones bandana.

"I'm never taking this off," said Tim from Sydney. "Don't you think I look cool?" he asked, adjusting the headwear to a style more reminiscent of Noddy than Errol Flynn. True to his word, by the start of play the following day, Tim had taken up prime position in the upper deck of the 3W's Stand, and the bandana was still in place. "I told you," he said, smoothing a stray hair away from the cotton covering his forehead. "This stays on throughout the Test. I am fully prepared to be the pirate King."

Not to be outdone, his friend Tom had gone one better. To use that sporting cliché, he'd thought it through. The red-and-black headwear was bedecked with a stuffed koala on one side and a plastic dolphin on the other. "There is no significance," he said, squeezing the dolphin to display its considerable squeaking capabilities. "It's just a dolphin, but it looks great with the bandana." Unimpressed, Tim mumbled something about sullying the good name of pirates everywhere and went to buy another beer.

Meanwhile in the Greenidge and Haynes Stand, a battle of the headwear was looming. A group of lads from Melbourne had brought fake dreadlocks. "I'm getting into the whole Calypso thing," said Peter, flicking his nylon dreadies over his shoulder with the aplomb of a seasoned supermodel. "Bandanas are for wimps," he added, glaring at the skull-and-crossbones brigade. Naturally, the bandana-wearers were not happy. "We're hardcore," said Rick from Perth. "Pirates are awesome. They're daredevils. I'm a daredevil. I'm keeping it real."

For those with no predilection towards peg legs or pieces of eight, never fear. There were fashion statements aplenty at Kensington Oval. The Australian Rules Football jumpers were out in force, as were the amusing T-shirts with slogans such as "I'm Captain Kangaroo", "Go soak yourself", and the inscrutable "Where's Bob?". There were flags as accessories; as capes, underwear, footwear and occasionally even as items to wave. There were boxer shorts, board shorts, miniskirts and bikinis. There were top hats, umbrella hats, peaked hats and pith helmets.

As with all good fashion shows, the music was carefully chosen. Much to the amusement of the Australian fans, Hayden and Langer took the field to Rolf Harris's "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport". Much to the further amusement, and sing-along-potential of those who'd made the trek to Bridgetown, lunchtime melodies included favourites such as 10CC's "Dreadlock Holiday" and UB40's "Red, Red Wine". Some, however, were keen to go down the acapella route.

Half an hour before tea, a band of yellow-shirted boys in the Kensington Stand began a shaky, and possibly rum-induced rendition of "American Pie". The fact that the lyrics were lost and the relevance was non-existent, didn't matter a bit. "It's just one of those songs you've got to sing," said Martin from Hobart. "Come back later and we'll be performing Piano Man." And they were. By stumps Martin and his Tasmanian cohorts were Billy-Joeling it with the best of them.

Back in the 3W's Stand, Tim and Tim were beaming. The bandanas had stayed in place. "We told you," said Tim. "See you tomorrow. You'll recognise us by the skull-and-crossbones." As the fans left Kensington Oval and the sound system closed down for the day, perhaps there were a few sparing a thought for Adam and the Ants. Thanks for the pirate thing boys. You did us all a favour.

Christine Davey is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Victoria.

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