Cricket – more than a game?

More than a game
There are other issues that we in the Caribbean must confront and perhaps this may well be the case for the other third world countries now playing the game.
CLR James reminded us that for the peoples of the Caribbean cricket assumed an importance that extended well beyond the niceties associated with the game. His concept of beyond the boundary was intended to show the extent to which in the early days of the region’s involvement in the game of cricket was transformed into opportunities. These were opportunities to have the coloniser recognise us as
peoples in our own right possessive of intellectual and physical achievements of the order capable of matching their own achievements.
Cricket, for many decades in the Caribbean, was much more than a game. It was the embodiment of the aspirations of our peoples at home and in the diaspora. It was a reason to be proud and to show that we are no less worthy of being considered men as were the colonisers.
It was a means of showing that colour did not matter.
It was an opportunity to show how we learnt from the colonisers a sport at which we would raise a major challenge to them.
It was a route to self respect, self development, self confidence, integrity, independence and achievement, individually and collectively.
It was a mechanism for regionalism and for extolling the virtues attendant thereto.
It was an opportunity for upward social mobility.
The issue of whether cricket still has the same significance for the peoples of the region is contentious. Certainly it seems difficult to find players of the contemporary team who have such an understanding and appreciation of the game. The same may be said of some of the people who are being brought in as administrators or marketers of the game in the region.
Should they be concerned about the legacy?
How do they at one and the same time maintain the legacy established by the Constantine, Ramadhin, Valentine, Gibbs, Sobers and the like, while fashioning an approach to the game that engenders greater concern for remuneration than it does the honing of skill competencies, passion for the game and a commitment to excellence?
The aforementioned question must also be faced by us as a region even as we eagerly await the Stanford 20/20 experience.
Perhaps at the end of the day it may be that money rules. But even if that is the case, what happens to the very rich legacy of West Indies Cricket?
Perhaps we are already too late.
The West Indies Cricket Board’s powerful lack of vision allowed the West Indies Cricket Hall of Fame to be conceptualised and established outside of their ambit, a phenomenon they cannot now change. This same institution has allowed its stars across the region to be brought to the fore by Stanford in his 20/20 initiative, a true marketing master-stroke, in a manner that the WICB has never been able to do.
Perhaps it is a case of making much ado about nothing.
Perhaps no one really cares.