Sunday, April 21, 2024

B side versus D side

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What do Freundel Stuart and Owen Arthur have in common, other than the fact that they both have their names inscribed in the chapter titled Prime Ministers in the Barbados history book?  
Well, if before two weeks ago somebody had asked me that question, I would have been as much at a loss as most other Barbadians would be, simply because when you place the personalities of the two side by side, it’s very difficult to imagine anything they could have in common.
Then one night recently, I was watching the CBC TV8 news and just before it ended there was an announcement that the programme would be followed by a recorded address by Prime Minister Stuart. It was delivered during the ceremony at which five Barbadian cricketing legends – Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, Seymour Nurse, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith – were honoured with the official launch of a series of DVDs chronicling their lives.
When I heard the announcement I muttered: “Oh Lord!” and picked up the remote to check another channel, wondering what the Prime Minister knew about cricket to qualify him to address a gathering that included five who were not only among the greatest of West Indian cricketers, but among the greatest ever anywhere in the world in the history of the game.
However, out of curiosity I delayed switching channels just to hear how he would start off and was I in for the biggest of shocks and surprises.
I had already known Arthur as an avid cricket fan who follows the game – from the discomfort of sitting on the hard ground watching a BCA match to the comfort of a soft seat in a box at Kensington for an international contest.
On a few occasions I had also seen him pad up and stroll out into the middle to exhibit a level of skill that would categorize him as “not too bad” a batsman.
On the other hand, there was no way that I could have pictured the present Prime Minister playing in any role whatsoever on a cricket field, other than maybe going out to refresh players at a water break.
But I must confess, and I doff my hat to him, that Stuart did the impossible and captivated me for a whole half-hour as he chronicled both his own prowess in the game, representing Boys’ Foundation School and the University of the West Indies at the Intermediate level, and his intimate knowledge of West Indies cricket and cricketers with his storehouse of information, both mental and physical.
Right now the promoter inside of me is seeing a big-big inter-political cricket match being staged at the Oval featuring a B team lead by Arthur against a D team led by Stuart. If that couldn’t fill Kensington, nothing else could.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email algilkes@gmail.com

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