…to the ball game!
Your Eyewitness is pretty excited his home team Amazon Warriors is opening up their season tonight at home!! With Exxon now their official sponsor, he’s reminded of the century-old classic American kid’s song that summarised the excitement of their “ball game” – and ours!! Your Eyewitness, of course, has paraphrased it appropriately for “local conditions”!!
“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some fried rice and fry chicken,
I don’t care if I never get back home.
Let me scream, scream, scream for the Warriors,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
‘Cause I’ll be bowlin’ and battin’ for my team,
At the old ball game.”
There’s nothing like cricket that defines us as a Caribbean people. And that’s why your Eyewitness thinks even though we just celebrated “Emancipation”, we’ve got to admit there are some things we don’t need to be emancipated from! Cricket being foremost among them!! Those who believe otherwise probably prompted the venerable Marxist cricket writer (and revolutionary theorist!!) CLR James to ask, “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”
When your Eyewitness went out to the “ball game” as a kid, he saw people who looked like him, spoke like him and WERE like him, grab the game of cricket by the scruff of its neck from the Englishmen who’d invented it! They imbued it with a love of life – nay, a LUST for life – that hadn’t only SURVIVED the plantation horrors but had actually blossomed and bloomed!! He saw heroes like Garfield Sobers excelling in every aspect of the game – bowling, batting and fielding – even as he retained the West Indian swagger with his raised shirt collar!!
He saw Rohan Kanhai inventing cricketing “shots” – such as the “falling on his behind hook” – that was nothing short of genius rivalling anything that Shakespeare had conjured up! He saw Hall and Griffith take “fast bowling” to its zenith, forcing the English who’d invented “bodyline bowling” to intimidate Bradman, now whining and whingeing at “pace like fire”!!
But the crowning glory of West Indian cricket is the T-20 format – which adopted wholesale the way we’ve always played our “ball game”. Screaming crowds that let the players know their feelings; feasting and drinking in the stands; players vying to hit the ball out of the ground and bowlers intimidating the batters with every trick in the book – with force or guile!!
And that’s why your Eyewitness will be downing tools early in the game to make sure he gets to Providence in time to fortify his “spirits” before the first ball is bowled!!
Play ball, Warriors!! All the way this year!!
…to remember sugar and cricket
Among the most fanatical cricketing fans in Guyana are those from the sugar belt. As CLR James pointed out, it was “bitter sugar” that inspired the West Indian to enter the cricket fields to “fight back” against their oppressors – and eventually to achieve dominance.
Interestingly, after those sugar workers protested, the sugar planters created cricketing grounds in every sugar estate –probably to take their minds off the horrid conditions. But as an irony of history, it was from those sugar estates – particularly in Berbice – that some of Guyana’s greatest cricketers emerged – Kanhai, Butcher, Kallicharan, Solomon, etc, etc.
It’s a bitter irony, however, that in firing over 5700 sugar workers in the last year, the Government has effectively denied those families – over 50,000 persons – from enjoying their beloved game in person. Choosing between food for their children and cricket – even a diehard cricketing fan from the sugar belt has to choose food!
Sadly, their children’s cry to “take me out to the ballgame” goes unanswered.
Less than a week after the President continued with his unilateralism to appoint an energy csar, the Agri Minister and Cabinet did the same for a new GuySuCo CEO.
So who cares if this is a function of a sugar board??