By Arley Gill
A Windies test series win against England at home is a commendable accomplishment. For so long the West Indies cricket, ranked eighth in the world, brought embarrassment on and off the field to cricket fans throughout the region. Now that we have something to shout about, let us do so.
Since winning the T20 World Cup a few years ago, and also triumphing in the Women’s and Youth World Cups, our cricketing pride has been on the down low.
To secure victory in the long version of the game, where we once reigned supreme, is truly a proud moment. It was heartening to see fans filling up the bars to look at cricket, and fans discussing the game on the street corners once again.
Of course, captain Jason Holder’s one-game suspension for breaching the slow over rate rule of the International Cricket Council (ICC) left a bitter taste in our mouths. The ICC, in my view, is not the most progressive global sporting organization in the world. And, they have proven it. Ninety overs in a day will that bring the crowd to the grounds. I doubt it will.
I am of the considered view that patrons pay to watch good cricket regardless of how many overs are bowled in a day. Fair enough, there should be a standard of how many overs should be bowled; but, suspending a captain for a game appears to me to be lacking in thought and common sense. There must be other sanctions that can be affected without affecting the quality of the subsequent game. Suspending a captain as Holder for the third and final Windies/England test in Saint Lucia was utterly brainless.
The issue of homophobic behaviour came to the fore as well. Shannon Gabriel was suspended for four games for abusive language to the English captain Joe Root in the third test.
Now, I believe that someone’s sexual orientation and personal preferences ought to be respected at all times. I do not believe that persons should be discriminated against, abused or offended by anyone for reasons of sexual orientation, gender, race, origin and class. We are all equals.
However, we have to be careful that we do not become overly sensitive, leaving us unable to have a conversation on certain issues. Gabriel, in his statement, said that he told Joe Root, “Why are you smiling at me, do you like boys?’’ Root retorted, “Do not use that as an insult, as there is nothing wrong with being gay.’’ To which Gabriel replied, “I have no issues with that, but stop smiling at me.’’
In my respectful view, Gabriel’s statement, taken as its highest, is a mere inquiry from Root as to whether he likes boys. He is not making an allegation or making any disparaging statement. Root, for his part, is saying to Gabriel, don’t even “think about’’ using that to sledge me because there is nothing wrong with liking boys. Gabriel then clears all doubt about him being homophobic by saying I do not have an issue with that, just don’t smile at me.
Come on! This is just banter between two men during a cricket game. I am of the view that Gabriel was not abusive or homophobic in any way.
Of course, the British media picked up on it and made a big story. Root’s a hero! Gabriel’s a villain! The way they wrote about the relevant laws in Saint Lucia, an innocent reader will go away with the idea that these people in the Caribbean are not modern or enlightened but are backward and stone age creatures.
I am of the respectful view that these former slave owners and colonialist continue to have little respect for our achievements, our culture and our civilization. One gets the sense that some of them merely tolerate us for what we offer to world civilization. I agree with Fazeer Mohammed, a Trinidad cricket commentator, when he addressed this issue on an interview, he did with Sportsmax. Mohammed highlighted the difference in treatment between players of the most powerful cricketing nations and those less powerful.
You see, David Rudder already told us that this thing, “goes way beyond the boundary”.