All about feeling good
March 17 , 1999
IF THERE was ever any doubt about how deep cricket runs through the veins of Caribbean people, all were removed by yesterday with the triumph of the West Indies team over the formidable Australians in Jamaica.
People everywhere hugged each other and smiled when the formalities were over - it was all about feeling good again.
Everything else takes a back seat when cricket is in the air in this part of the world.
Caribbean Community leaders meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname, earlier this month, ever so often left the conference room, and pressing matters like the jeopardised banana market, to check on the score in the first test.
That test was a sad outcome for the West Indies and their supporters everywhere.
It was a continuation of the dismal period that began in South Africa last year and when every loyal West Indian wanted to turn off the television set or radio to spare themselves the agony and indignity of watching their professionals' noses rubbed into the very dust of the cricket pitches.
Television sets and radios were, however, not turned down for the match which ended yesterday and spirits were high all over.
The resurgence of the region's cricket fortunes mattered so much here, that a member of the Constitution Reform Commission confessed that Guyanese had more interest in the proceedings on the field in Sabina Park, Jamaica, than in the grave matter of reforming the 1980 Constitution - something that could affect the rest of their lives.
The Commission is worried about poor attendance at the public hearings scheduled to get the views of citizens on changes in the Constitution and one member blamed the little interest by citizens on, among other things, bigger public interest in cricket.
Commissioner, Mr. Randolph Kirton, this week said that from speaking to some residents in a few rural communities, it seemed the timings for the hearings were badly set, especially with the West Indies versus Australia cricket test that ended yesterday.
He said that in one village where the hearing was scheduled to start at 15:00 hrs (3 p.m.), large groups of residents were at places nearby, but most indicated they were watching cricket and preferred not to attend the hearing then.
We feel there is much food for thought in this little episode.
Caribbean people of all races were united as their West Indies team fought back to restore the pride that has been so badly wounded in the recent past.
The television images of people dancing, singing and waving as victory swung into sight, lifted the spirits throughout the region and there is hope everywhere that `The West Indies coming back'.
There is still a long way to go and the Australians are no pushovers.
But the important thing is that hope has been rekindled.
The administrators of West Indian cricket cannot lose sight of how much the game means to the people of the region and they have to ensure they go all out to keep their spirits up.
Cricket is not just another game for the Caribbean.
It's also all about them feeling good.