West Indies v England, 1st Test, Jamaica February 4, 2009

Light Nash no white West Indian


Brendan Nash is about to appear in his first home Test for West Indies © Getty Images
 

In many places it has become fact that Brendan Nash is about to become the first white West Indian to play a home Test since Geoff Greenidge in 1973. It makes him sound like an old-fashioned colonial who has arrived to assume his place by birth instead of merit. Nash, a 31-year-old who was born in Australia, is a light West Indian.

While not sensitive about the topic of Nash's "record breaking", his parents Paul and Andrea mention an article from Michael Holding, an old family friend, to support their point of view. "It has been said that Brendan is the first white player to represent the West Indies since 1973 but that is rubbish," Holding wrote on SkySports. "If he is considered white, what was Larry Gomes who played throughout the 1980s?"

Nash's parents are mixed race - in Jamaica they would be called "browning" - and the cricketing world has been carried away by the fairness of their boy's skin. During Nash's Test debut in Dunedin the cameras spent time focussing on his parents as they discussed the white claim. His dad compares his son's complexion with that of the French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

During Nash's early trial games for Jamaica there were shouts from the crowd of "go home, white boy, you're no good" and the tag has remained. Coming from Australia did not provide Nash, who has now appeared in two Tests and nine ODIs, with an easy ride, but he quickly progressed into the international squad.

"He has a silent determination," Paul said. "He's got a much stronger character than we knew, and he faced the fire and brimstone for several months."

Nash's mother was seven months' pregnant when the family landed in Perth in 1977 and Brendan travelled back to Jamaica regularly during his childhood. A junior player with Queensland, he progressed into the senior team but couldn't hold a long-term spot and after visiting the Caribbean for the 2007 World Cup decided he wanted to go home. Paul wished he had made the move earlier.

Both parents have flown from Brisbane to Jamaica to see Nash in Wednesday's first Test against England at Sabina Park. Paul was an Olympic swimmer, competing in Mexico in 1968, and was more interested in the pool and badminton than cricket when he was growing up on the island.

He has spent some days at Sabina Park, including watching Brendan's 91 not out versus Guyana in his first season - the best he had seen his son bat. Andrea was the cricket fan - Garry Sobers was her favourite - and will probably to be too nervous to watch during the Test.

"It's the happiest time for me that he's living and playing in Jamaica, I couldn't hope for more," Paul said. "They're not just my roots, they're his roots too."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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