Thursday, February 29, 2024

With holding tax


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THE BEST THING about West Indies cricket now is Michael Holding’s Digicel WI All In advertisement.
The television version blew me clean firetrucking away the first time I saw it, like the last ball of that Whispering Death over, Holding to Boycott, Kensigton Oval, 1981, one of England’s best batsmen being subjected to five unplayable balls that left an entire stadium holding its breath – and then had it erupt with that last ball, that textbook forward defensive stroke and that cartwheeling middle stump catapulting West Indian joy.
Like that over, everything about the TV ad is right up in the block hole: the immediate portrayal of the unnamed visiting team as foreign; the road painters turning into batsmen and their brushes into bats; all the clothes flapping on clothes lines turning into West Indies shirts; that sneering fat man putting a bite ’pon an apple that turns into a cricket ball; the extremely tight, poetically brief copy, not one word of which I can fault; and Mikey Holding’s delivery itself, every syllable as passionate, precise and telling as his run-up, all of it leading inexorably to that wicket-taking last ball and one of the most clever and most positive advertising messages I’ve ever heard voiced over the image of a stadium packed with WI maroon: “When you face the West Indies, you don’t just face one of us, you face us all. We are 19 million not out. West Indies cricket and Digicel. WI all in.”
Sends shivers of pride up my spine.
Pity the reality is so far removed from that glorious advertisement.
Whatever the nature of the pitch, I side with Mikey in remaining optimistic about our cricket.
But if the West Indies Cricket Board should ever wake up and decide it wants to make a realistic TV portrayal of the state of our cricket, we need only tweak the existing WI All In Digicel spot:
• open with a shot of West Indies cricket administrators eating lobster with their fingers
in first class – you’ll have to edit carefully to disguise whether the plane is REDjet or Caribbean Airlines;
• cut down the steps to shots of baggage being loaded by Darren Sammy and the boys, every one of them fumbling and dropping bags. Couple shots of Lendl Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan tossing bags through the air, as if practising chipping a ball straight to mid-on;
• have Shiv Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle wandering around in the background, not sure if they’re supposed to be loading Air India – let all the team wildly swing bats that turn suddenly into ducks;
• in the background, have 19 million people weeping;
• then have everybody collapse, one after the other, until the only one left is a fat WICB official, cramming a whole chicken into his mouth, the correct portrayal of the only thing still desperately needing fixing in our cricket.
I’ll do the voiceover myself in my best Mikey imitation, and we only need one line aimed directly between the eyes of our cricket administration: “When you firetruck the West Indies, you don’t just firetruck one of us, you firetruck us all.”
• B.C. Pires is going to be shouted down to death; email him at


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