So-called Experts By Pryor Jonas
Stabroek News
August 9, 2003

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I think it’s time we did our own homework rather than have some overseas “expert” do it for us. Certainly, we have more than sufficient know-how right here. If we as Caribbean sportswriters were to get together, glean the necessary facts and share our findings, then a Chris Dehring would not be able to come to us, (mis) quoting the ICC and misinterpreting Wisdens to his own advantage. For of this one thing I am certain: we can do nothing against the truth. Facts and figures sooner or later betray/bewray us. Four years ago, Terry Holder (a senior official on our local cricket Board) and I were asked by the then President to submit a short paper commenting on the current Caribbean cricketing crisis which still haunts us. The first two paragraphs read as follows:

“This paper could well be sub-titled: “The Rise and Fall of West Indies Cricket.’- Where Do We Go From Here?” Because of the thousand-word limit given, most of it has been written in note or precis form. We took a kaleidoscopic view of our present traumatic situation in cricket, and made comprehensive recommendations for a quick and permanent solution.

“When, in 1928, we were introduced for the first time to Test cricket, and were beaten comprehensively in all three representative games, the then editor of Wisden remarked, “Everybody was compelled to realize that the playing of Test matches between England and West Indies was a mistake.”

But less than two decades later, we had established ourselves as a competitive cricketing nation. By the mid-80’s, we were widely recognized as champions of the world. To understand the enormity of the challenge ahead of us, therefore, we must always be conscious of the resentment we will naturally engender. “The West Indies attained supremacy on the world cricketing stage too early in their own evolution.”

That was written four years ago. Now everyone knows how far down the ladder we are. Our love for cricket is almost pathological, but we are realising that love alone is not enough, despite the contributions of captains like Carl Hooper and Singulara. Cricket today has become a global challenge. Our cricketing authorities now find themselves compelled to agree with those who say that cricket in the Caribbean must change to meet that new challenge.

To this I say an emphatic no. On no account can we contemplate belittling, let alone being dismissive of our cricketing traditions. If we let ourselves be seduced into jumping onto the proposed big-time commercial bandwagon, where our traditional centres are pooh-poohed, we will sooner rather than later lose both corn and husk.

It seems that we in Guyana and elsewhere are finally aware of our tenuous position staging a World Cup. It is imperative, therefore, that the cricketing authorities press our Government to make certain that we’re not an also-ran. This was why I could never accept the position of Dehring that has made much of the phrase `so-called traditional centres.’ Our history of Test cricket makes it apparent to me that the four traditional centres must be included. For when a world history of cricket is written, we must ensure that cricketing heroes like Fernandes, Gibbs, Kanhai, Lloyd, Fredericks and Kallicharran are never forgotten. And we must ensure, too, that future generations will know of Bourda and Kensington, of Queen’s Park and Sabina. For those are names to be revered, names that bring sweet music to every Caribbean ear.

Sports Editor’s Footnote: Pryor Jonas’ regular Saturday column is now being resumed. Mr Jonas was the victim of a motor car accident. He is still nursing a fractured ankle among other injuries, but is now well on the road towards complete recovery.

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