Windies conduct unbecoming

by Donald Duff
Stabroek News
April 21, 1999

CRICKET, it has been repeatedly said, is the only unifying force in the region that is the Caribbean. The players that make up the West Indies team might come from different countries and islands in the Caribbean and South America but, to the many fans who idolise their `stars' the people and players might well come from one country and be of one race.

These eight million-odd die-hard cricket fans of the Caribbean became disillusioned with the whipping South Africa meted out to the West Indies team during the recent series when they became the first West Indies team to be whitewashed 5-0. The also endured the agony of the 6-1 beating in the limited overs series.

But they stuck with the team and were overjoyed at the recent successes which helped restore West Indian pride.

Whenever cricket time comes around the players are hailed, feted, photographed with fans, hunted down for autographs and badgered by phone calls during their private moments.

As they say, it comes with the territory, it is part of the price one has to pay for being a star.

Similar or even more bizarre things happen to film stars from Hollywood.

But this is not the United States and the West Indies players must realise that without the paying spectators and the media that thrust them into the spotlight allowing their deeds to be highlighted all over the globe they will remain nameless, ordinary mortals.

And so this is why the slight by the West Indies team to the fans and the media in Guyana must be condemned in the strongest possible manner.

The West Indies and Australian teams arrived on Monday afternoon for the Guyana leg of the current Cable and Wireless tour and within minutes West Indies manager Clive Lloyd and skipper Brian Lara refused to speak with the media.

On the contrary Australian skipper Steve Waugh had no such qualms giving an interview to the print media and even a live interview which was broadcast on GBC.

But even more disturbing was the attitude of some of the players as they were about to board the bus to travel to the city.

A crowd had gathered in anticipation of seeing their `heroes' but they received not even the slightest acknowledgement of a wave from their `heroes' whose names were called out with gusto and familiarity. It was boorish behaviour at best.

Yesterday morning at Bourda was no exception. Reports indicated that even local star Shivnarine Chanderpaul was seen adopting this egomaniacal attitude.

It is inconceivable that the West Indies players can treat their very people who will today cheer their lungs out for them as they oppose the formidable Australians in this manner. It is indeed conduct unbecoming.

It is time for the West Indies players to come down to earth.

Despite their heroic performances of late they are not Gods and must not behave as if they are. They are, like their fans just ordinary mortals and must remember that their attitude can either endear them to the public or cause the public to dislike them.

It therefore would do them well to carry themselves with dignity and be approachable to not only the media which has the important role to perform of educating and informing the people, but also to the fans especially those who support them through thick and thin, through their bad patches and who defend them with the ardour of one defending a relative or kin.

While it is true that cricket has the ability to unite the region the attitude of Brian Lara's West Indies cricketers which borders on arrogance has the potential to do just the opposite.