“The loudest sound in current West Indies cricket is the sigh people emit when they talk about the old days.”
That’s a quote from Jarrod Kimber, whose 2,300-word story about the dark day/night test that the Cricket West Indies XI failed abjectly contains a kind word or two—although you might need a comb with very fine teeth to find it/them.
But we might also have begun with Geoffrey Boycott, who lambasted Holder’s team black is white and then got himself in trouble for what he subsequently conceded were “unacceptable, clearly wrong” racist comments about three West Indian cricketing knights.
But as Holder’s schoolboy team lick their wounds and prepare to take the field in the Second Test at Edgbaston starting tomorrow, it’s not racism we WI fans have to live with. Or sneering chest-thumping. For there is no shortage of scathing material to be found in the hundreds of negative articles appearing in the British press over the last week, negative, of course, from the West Indian point of view.
But the triumphalism is conspicuous by its absence.
Joe Root’s team had already knocked the stuffing out of Holder’s Hope-filled but hopeless men, disposing of them by an innings and 209 runs in under three days at Birmingham in the First Test. The press finished the job their team started, well, only officially. Some will argue that the hatchet job was already well under way when the West Indian selectors had finished their job.
Eight Bajans? Not in the 16-man squad but in the 11-man team! Gimme a friggin break!
Kimber is completely unimpressed.
In a piece headlined “West Indies’ legacy left in the hands of schoolboys,” he notes mockingly that, facing Mooen Ali, Jason Holder “finally got the edge he’d been looking for.”
Jermaine Blackwood, he says, “made more runs in one innings than any of his team-mates managed in two (and t)hey ended up 75 runs short of Alastair Cook.
“West Indies,” he adds, his tone unchanged, “could have batted in four innings and there would only have been an outside chance of England batting again.”
His story begins by identifying 19 different things Holder’s men did not do well. And then he has this to say: If you had a list like this as a coach of a school team you’d be angry. But this is not even a complete list of the mistakes the West Indies made in the first Investec Test.
Adding along the way that “Phil Simmons (…) was sacked for suggesting that some of the players in (a) list (of better players) should actually be selected, he ambles to this conclusion:
“So Cummins backed up, and started sprinting from the moment the ball was released, and stole the single that gave Blackwood the strike and kept him on course for his hundred.
No, sorry, that’s not what happened. Cummins didn’t back up. Or even react to the chance of a run, and he ended up well short.
It wasn’t the biggest error of the day. It was just another mistake for the Schoolboy XI.
Considerably shorter, Boycott’s piece, unequivocally headlined “I take no pleasure in saying this—West Indies are the worst Test team I have seen in over 50 years,” is, however, no less damning. The former opener deems the West Indians “outclassed and out of their depth,” the Test “a mismatch,” the spectacle of the ineptitude of Holder’s side “a tragedy,” and the gulf between the two teams “wider than the Grand Canyon.”
And that’s just in the third and fourth paragraphs!
Here are the two that precede those: “This West Indies lot are the worst Test match team I have seen in more than 50 years of watching, playing and commentating on cricket.
They can’t bat and can’t bowl. I take no pleasure out of saying this as I played against some of the greatest players the world has ever seen wearing the maroon cap of the West Indies.”
All of which would have raised no eyebrows had Boycott not been subsequently reported in the press as implying that the knighthoods given to Ambrose, Richards and Sobers were undeserved. He went further to say that, had he been black, he would not have been twice denied the knighthood for which he was twice nominated.
In the cricket piece, he laments the absence of “experienced players to help and guide these youngsters at difficult moments” and declares that “the series is over as a contest” because “the West Indies lack talent.”
They cannot, he affirms, “compete at Headingley and Lord’s,” where it will again be “men against boys.”
He says that the cricket-loving public will stay away but he stops short of calling for a, well, a boycott.
The really galling bit in all this is that, in the years when our West Indies were pulverising the English left, right and centre, we West Indians were gloating. When the late Tony Grieg left us, he was probably still carrying in his mouth the bitter taste of those famous seven words he had to swallow:
“We are going to make them grovel.”
So we are less than comfortable when Boycott, Kimber and company in the British media are not content merely to enjoy their temporary (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahaha) superiority and rub our noses in it; instead, they kill us with their excessively patronising sympathy.
President Cameron’s team may be a set of schoolboys but we are not. Stop the shit, Jarrod and Geoff, stop the shit!
After all, 1838 is not just the number of runs England are likely to score before this series is over; it’s also the year when the visible realities on the privately owned plantations changed. But the invisible realities in privately owned minds remained unaltered, which means we have had almost 200 uninterrupted years of British contempt.
Why do the media men want to change tack now?
Frankly, I’d give anything to have been able to see the pain on Sir Viv’s face as he read Kimber’s piece suddenly surrender its place to a big, broad smile when he read about Boycott’s challenge to his knighthood.
He can live with the contempt, old chaps. And the overt racism. Save your sympathy for Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
And CWI, Cameron, Courtney B and the other minions.