The Big 3’s Reincarnation
by Fazeer Mohammed
If we didn’t want to use our might on the field to make a difference for the good of the game, what do you expect us to do now? All this outrage over the collusion involving India, England and Australia to restructure senior international cricket for their own financial benefit completely misses the point, for it has always been thus. Anyone with the time to spare can simply search “history of cricket” to get a better appreciation of how this latest development is merely a continuation of the wheeling and dealing that has always defined an entity that we loosely describe as a “sport”, with all its assumptions of a level playing field, fair competition, etc, yet is more akin to a delusional pastime involving masters and servants.
All that’s going to happen in Dubai over the next 48 hours is the formalisation of what we know and have experienced already: that India, because of its enormous financial clout (accounting for at least 80 per cent of revenue in the game) as a result of its huge population (over one billion and counting) has been elevated from servant to master, so forcing the long-time overlords to accept the inevitable, do a deal rather than appear adversarial and—very importantly—make absolutely sure their pronunciations of Srinivasan and Sivaramakrishnan and the like are spot-on, even as they hold their noses and mutter to themselves about what the hell the world is coming to with all this chicken tikka masala and aloo paratha displacing the bacon and scrambled eggs in the sterling silver trays of their ivory towers.
Among those genuflecting and kissing the ring, metaphorically of course, of the newly-installed master in what is essentially a Vatican-styled installation will be Dave Cameron. Maybe he’s refining his puckering technique right now in front of the mirror in the lavish bathroom of his opulent accommodation. With so many others striving to perfect the same technique in pursuit of maximum possible impact, every little bit of practice helps.
In between the alternation of the pursing of the lips and a welcoming ear-to-ear smile so as to avoid the risk of cramping at the most inopportune time, I wonder if it is flashing across the mind of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president that the organisation he represents did nothing meaningful in seeking to make cricket at the highest level more of an egalitarian construct at the time when the team from the region dominated the game as never before or since, and enjoyed the sort of popularity—both at home and abroad—that seems more than a galaxy away from our present and protracted pitiful status.
Let me amend that a bit. Rather than blame the WICBC (they still had the “Control” then) of the 1980-1995 period of invincibility when the West Indies didn’t lose a single Test series, how about putting the focus on the players, our Caribbean conquerors who flattened opponents on fields near and far, who bestrode the cricketing world like a collective Colossus to thunderous acclaim, yet were quieter than mice when it came to seeking the interests of the game beyond the narrow perspectives of individual and team ambitions?
Since the watershed defeat to Australia at Sabina Park in 1995, we have grown accustomed to every Aussie captain—Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and now Michael Clarke—making pronouncements on cricket and clearly influencing administrators. Likewise the English, who have never relinquished their presumed pre-eminence in pontificating on the game they founded. And now, in the era of Indian might on and off the field, Mahendra Singh Dhoni just has to sneeze at a media conference and questions are raised about the air-conditioning temperature levels at venues everywhere.
Did Clive Lloyd have any such influence? What about Sir Vivian Richards, or Richie Richardson, the three men at the helm during that 15 years of unprecedented dominance? They and their teams certainly changed the levels of fitness, excellence and professionalism, not to mention the culture of dominance by speed, to the extent that they were heralded as years ahead of their time.
But did any one of them, or any member of the team, either as an individual or as a collective, seek to bring that power on the field to bear off it, to the extent of forcing change to the structure of a Victorian-era anachronism? If that wasn’t in their job description, as many of them will rightfully claim, then none of them should have anything to say about what is transpiring now, because real leadership is not merely about prosperity for self, but seeking fairness for all.
If we’re asking too much of individuals who were “just” outstanding cricketers, how do you then explain the vision and influence of Sir Frank Worrell, the first black man to be full-time captain of the West Indies who, in his first assignment at the helm, contributed mightily to the resuscitation of Test cricket and the appreciation of people of colour during the 1960/61 tour of Australia at a time when something called a “White Australia Policy” prevailed Down Under?
Yet it was some of these same cricketing legends of the 1970s and 1980s who trivialised that groundbreaking duel and rubbished the dominant West Indies team of the 1960s in the 2010 documentary Fire in Babylon, a film that apparently inspires the current generation of West Indies cricketers, which says a lot.
What did CLR James say, what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?
originally posted on http://www.trinidadexpress.com