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Cricket World Cup and Lara

I do have a food post in the works (more like in the mind!) but this is what has taken up some of my leisure and blog time. Cricket World Cup. I’ve now been to the refurbished Kensington Oval for 3 matches and was going to do a post similar to that on Guyana’s National Stadium at Providence. But then in the world of West Indies cricket or indeed world cricket, much has now been taken over by thoughts of the retirement of Brian Charles Lara from international cricket. Like the Manicou, my stint as a cricket follower is inextricably linked to BC Lara. When he burst onto the international scene was right about the time that I started paying attention to that thing that Dad always had on the radio on our long drive home from school (excruciatingly boring at the time to listen to stuffy Brit commentators describe a ball rolling across grass somewhere), or the game that dominated the one television station at unreasonable times. I didn’t start paying attention to cricket because of Lara, but it certainly helped that he was such a batting genius, a world class player who commanded international attention even before he broke those records. We had a star.

(For the record, I was already a fan and staying up late at nights during that Australia tour to see him in some of those remarkable innings when he scored the 277 and in the Oval on the next home tour when we got sold packs of nuts that were the Lara special because each brown bag had exactly 277 nuts – or so the Nutsman said!)

There are those who discount him because he is a star, not wanting to deal with celebrity in a sport arena (ha!), but coming from a small, twin-island nation, in the middle of a conglomerate of some even smaller island nations (and Guyana!) to be able to lay claim to the Prince of Port of Spain as one of ours cannot be discounted. Particularly since I have always had the feeling that I started this cricket thing when the Windies were clearly a team to be reckoned with, no matter what the status of the indivicual countries in other sports, or in economics or any other field of assessment. Unfortunately, I don’t think I saw the team continue along that path. Viv Richards retired. Greenidge and Haynes. Richardson. Ambrose and Walsh. It’s ok for players to retire, for eras to come to an end, but it seemed like as the years of my fandom continued, the status of the Windies just continued to sink. And no, I am not connecting it to myself. But I know there are a lot of you out there like me, who wonder why we couldn’t be fans of the team in its heyday. Why did we get sucked in on the eve of what seems like a decades-long decline? (And why we’re still here, but that’s the nature of support…)

But I am distracted. Back to my point. In the midst of all the decline we still had a star. Someone who was recognised the world over and in the cricketing world in particular ensured that no one ever discounted completely the West Indies team. Not as long as we had Lara on it. I am not unbiased in my view of Lara. I don’t know if he made a good captain. I don’t know if he was sufficiently disciplined or a team player. I do know that his retirement has ended without a doubt in my mind that last relic or vestige of hope we used to hang on to that Windies domination wasn’t so very far away again. Not just because he was great, but because when he was 19, when he started, he was playing with the greats, or in the fresh shadow of their departure when we still had that hope. I am not saying we can’t play well and win again. It’s just not going to be that easy to muster up the dream of the old days. The old days are definitely and definitively passed. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe whoever is in the team now will have to work in the knowledge that the West Indies have no automatic status or respect. We only have the opportunity to work hard, practise and desire the win. To some extent, it doesn’t matter who’s on the team. It doesn’t matter whether we have star power. Look at Ireland and Bangladesh.

Before I get depressed thinking about the fate of our team…back to Lara’s retirement (hmm…any less depressing?). Kensington Oval was packed. 22,500 people came to see Lara’s last match – West Indies vs England in the Super 8s of the CWC. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but it was a nailbiting end and I can say I was there in the Oval for that historic match (not till the end unfortunately, but Lilandra and I were there among the 22,500 for most of it). There were signs from fans of all countries thanking Lara. When Chris Gayle got out, the entire Oval quickly reacted in unison to chant “We Want Lara”. The England team formed a guard of honour to welcome him onto the batting pitch for the last time. We didn’t get any fantastic display this innings, but as the crowd enthusiastically confirmed when he asked at the end, he certainly entertained us throughout his entire career.

Pictures from the match.

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13 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. *sniffle*

    1. Lilandra on April 24th, 2007 at 2:43 pm
  2. I maybe biased but I am yet to read any written story or news report wrt Lara which comes with so much feeling as your blog just did.

    The style and flair of the Prince of POS would surely be missed by the world at large the cricketing world that is.

    2. trinimom on April 24th, 2007 at 8:30 pm
  3. It is sad to see Lara go. I would have liked to still see him in test cricket but as all the pundits have been saying, he has been dealt the same fate as Viv Richards before him. I just read that the New Zealand captain has retired from one-day cricket and is very keen to play and captain a test side, it is going to be interesting to see what happens in that situation. Inzi from Pakistan also retired from one-day cricket and I am sure that he is not going to be left out of the test side of Pakistan (I think). So my question is, why the powers that be could not let Lara continue as a player in the Test side. I would have liked to see him finish at the time he set for himself – 40. I think he still has some good batting in him.

    As to your comment: “I do know that his retirement has ended without a doubt in my mind that last relic or vestige of hope we used to hang on to that Windies domination wasn’t so very far away again.” I do not agree. Too often in the Caribbean we live in the past. We want to achieve victories whether in politics or on the cricket ground, on the memories of a time gone or people who have left this world. They did their best and they made a difference and created something there for us to build on. The responsibility is now ours to carry on the work, not to spend time, all our energies, only thinking of the time gone by and using that as THE EXCLUSIVE yard stick to measure all that is taking place today. These are different times in every sense of the word. I am NOT saying that we should not recall the past and the wonderful times and learn something from it, what I am saying is that let’s not spend so much time recalling those times and forget to act in the now. Live in the now. Do what we can do now, not merely to recapture the time past but to create new memories, new glory days, build on what we already have.

    I think we – the fans, the board, the selectors, the players, EVERYBODY needs to understand that and make a conscious effort to move forward and not have our steps bogged down by the memories of an era that cannot be recaptured exactly as it was… that’s not progress, that’s not moving forward…

    3. Cynthia on April 24th, 2007 at 9:00 pm
  4. Hi Cynthia – thanks for the comments. Actually I agree with you. Maybe I didn’t express it properly ;-). But it is true that while we had any vestige of the old guard, the star power in the team, we hung on to that idea that “We used to be world-champions” to the exclusion of planning forward – perhaps as if we reminded ourselves of what we used to be, we could do it again just like that. Without the work. Just because of the past.
    So I completely agree that we shouldn’t use the yardstick of the past (especially when the demands and strategies of the game have changed).
    But at the same time I understand the sentimentality of that hope that hung on the past. It’s very much a part of our developmental identity – we beat the more developed countries at something.

    4. chennette on April 24th, 2007 at 10:45 pm
  5. I’m not much of a cricket fan myself, Chennette. Well I’ll admit I did get bitten by the cricket bug during the Ashes success in 2005. Lara was a true sporting legend and someone will be remembered and celebrated for centuries to come.

    5. Trig on April 27th, 2007 at 2:10 pm
  6. Trig, success is always a good draw :-) I think that Ashes of 2005 drew a LOT of attention worldwide. Now we’re back to wondering just how long Australia plans to have the final match play out.

    And, for anyone who’s reading. I AM HEADED TO THE FINALS!

    6. chennette on April 27th, 2007 at 2:41 pm
  7. Hey come on. I am backing Sri Lanka. I’m tired of the Aussies winning. :)

    7. Cynthia on April 27th, 2007 at 10:08 pm
  8. WOOHOO!! Ditto Cynthia. But that was my inner cynic coming out in the previous comment. Go Sri Lanka!

    8. chennette on April 27th, 2007 at 10:44 pm
  9. i see you in my reader roll!
    i see you in my reader roll!


    9. The TriniGourmet on April 28th, 2007 at 1:16 am
  10. yay! I changed my cookie settings temporarily before visiting your site. It worked for me too in that I saw myself on my reader roll too! But once I change it back…no go. Why doesn’t my browser lnot ike MyBlogLog cookies?

    10. chennette on April 28th, 2007 at 7:18 am
  11. leave them how they were then 😀

    11. The TriniGourmet on April 28th, 2007 at 10:44 am
  12. Hey Chennette, that was a good post (again). Lucky you to have seen the last innings he ever played!

    12. Mani on May 2nd, 2007 at 10:27 am
  13. Thanks Mani. And yes, despite any complaints I may have expressed about the work and the relocation and the living in 3 countries, the last 2 weeks have had many moments where I was extremely happy to be in Barbados at this particular time.

    13. chennette on May 2nd, 2007 at 10:40 am

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