Media Monitor: Kalicharan launches attack on WI elite, Skerritt called to defend innocents

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In all my years of observing and commenting on West Indies cricket, I have tended to agree rather than disagree with public positions espoused by Dr Noel Kalicharan. Or Ricky Skerritt. But I guess there’s a first time for everything. That’s progress! 

Progress comes in various forms. For more than a year since he first came to the world’s attention in August 2019, i95.5fm’s Don Lee wrongly pronounced the name of the man who became the first-ever concussion substitute in Test cricket.

The now 26-year-old man’s name? Marnus Labuschagne, (pronounced LA-BOO-SHANE).

Photo: Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne.

For the first time last month, I heard Lee not call him LA-BOOCE-CAG-KNEE. I was tempted to celebrate by popping open a bottle of champagknee.

No progress, though, for Lee’s i95.5fm sidekick. I have not had the stomach to take a full serving of Roxanne Gialdo since the mid-November day after CWI president Skerritt spoke at the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture. 

In her report, Gialdo treated listeners to ‘Sir Worrell’.

Only a glutton for punishment would return for more; I do not, I’m afraid, qualify. 

It’s one reason why I missed the initial airing of the Cheerless One’s interview with David-John Williams. In it, Baptiste announces that he has read the statement from the Panama bank and can find nowhere in it anything that says John-Williams has an account in Panama.

“And I,” he assured listeners, “know English good.” 

Photo: I95.5fm reporters Andre Baptiste (centre) and Tony Lee (right) speak to Trinidad and Tobago’s 200m Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jereem Richards at the Gold Coast in Australia on 13 April 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

But it never apparently occurs to him to change the tense and ask whether John-Williams has ever had such an account.

I kid you not.

Similarly, the 7pm TV6 sports is no longer on my TV schedule. I am really the live-and-let-live type. But thanks to the inanities with which James Saunders punctuated—and, presumably, continues so to do—the evening sports news, I ran the risk of becoming the kill-or-be-killed type. 

So it was on CNC3 that I saw all those awful interviews with the West Indian second-string cricketers peopling the two Bangladesh squads.

Now I have no idea who first decided to expose these media innocents to the full glare of the live camera. Someone in Digicel? In Sandals? In CWI Communications? That someone clearly needs to have his/her head examined. 

Photo: West Indies players take a drinks break during the second Test against India at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica on 30 August 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Perhaps (s)he watches the NBA and sees the ease with which ordinary basketballers handle the situation when a microphone is shoved in their face. 

Our cricketers can do that, (s)he thought. 

Wrong! They can’t!

No more than the Strike Squad’s footballers could handle it when some sado-masochist decided to record one-on-one interviews with every member of Gally’s squad back in the day. 

If ‘cringeworthy’ had not been in the Urban Dictionary before that series hit the airwaves, it certainly would have entered the lexicon immediately thereafter.

Anyway, please, president Skerritt, I’m now off Labuscagknee and I’m on bended knee. Please, please, please, nix that plan. Change the contracts. Please, please, please, give us a rest from these less-than-articulate gentlemen. 

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt.

When we take the Test captaincy away from the incumbent and give it to Polly, placate Jason Holder with an offer of the job as team media spokesman. That he can do well.

But please spare us the painful three or four or five minutes of squirming as we watch the discomfiture of the opener or the off-spinner who may be competent with bat or ball but is clearly not at ease with words.

Words, of course, pose no problem for Kalicharan, a senior lecturer in computer science at The UWI and author of 19 books. In his scathing Letter to the Editor published on page 17 of this week’s Sunday Express, he wields them to very good effect, alleging ‘hypocrisy’ by some of the elite players. 

He seeks to persuade us that the sorry showing we can expect from the second-string currently in Bangladesh will not necessarily be worse that what we might have got, even if there had been no mass withdrawal on the spurious grounds that Bangladesh posed greater danger to life and limb than the UAE.

I have no problem, Kalicharan writes, with players earning as much as they can, but they can’t be encouraged to think they can flit in and out of the West Indies team as and when they please. Those who show commitment to the team’s cause must be given priority. Given time, they will come good.

Photo: Dr Noel Kalicharan.
(via EBCCTT)

The least we can do, the letter ends, is give the team our full support. At least they are proud to represent us, unlike those who chose to abandon ship.

There is a lot of truth in Kalicharan’s statements but I have a difficulty with a couple of the stances he takes. 

As many as 12 players were identified as not making themselves available for the tour. How many of them played in the UAE’s T10 League?

His letter says that ‘[q]uestions must also be asked of others’ but it feels like ‘ODI captain Kieron Pollard’ was singled out for attention. Perhaps on the grounds that, even beyond the boundary, the captain must somehow accept responsibility for the business decisions made by those he leads on the field of play? 

Surely Kalicharan does not believe that. Even in the now seemingly antediluvian Age of the Amateur, such a suggestion would be, at a minimum, suspect.

In today’s Age of the Mercenary, I would invite him to project forward to the day when, ‘given time’, those who currently ‘show commitment to the team’s cause’ and ‘are proud to represent us’ now will have ‘come good’. 

Photo: The West Indies cricket team.

Is Kalicharan prepared to go out on a limb and say that, given the same choice between licks in wherever (…) for less money and higher pay in the UAE or elsewhere, they will not opt for the more lucrative assignment?

Sing ye, Noel, oh ye of great faith! But since you’re into books, I want to close by offering you two verses from the Good Book. 

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for;’ Hebrews 11 tells us, ‘it is the evidence of things we cannot see.’

No one,’ 1 Samuel 2, warns, ‘will succeed by faith alone.’

Alas, neither presidents of Cricket West Indies nor West Indies cricketers, elite or second-string, nor The University of the West Indies lecturers are exceptions.

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About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. Labuschagne is an Afrikaner name and it is pronounced

    • Gerry, the French word for the stock exchange is bourse, pronounced BOO-RCE. How is the name of the Port-of-Spain company of the same name pronounced?

      But don’t take my word for it; ask anyone who listens to the live cricket commentary and see whether they agree with you. If you tell me the commentators, including Australians, are all wrong, I will be the first to apologise to Don.

      And to you.

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