Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ON REFLECTION: ‘How it go look’ at the Oval?


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They say that in the realm of sporting franchises in today’s globalized world, issues like nationality and sovereignty are non-points and the stuff of minutiae. But are fair play and perception also taboo?
The naming of Trinidadian all-rounder Keiron Pollard as captain of the Barbados Tridents for the upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is being greeted in some places with high emotion which, in turn, is being dismissed as claptrap in other circles.
But I agreed with most of the points made by former Government minister Hamilton Lashley, since in my humble view, tried and tested leadership ability would have made Barbados captain Dwayne Smith the obvious choice. Such reasoning seems, however, to be absolutely irrelevant in the realm of sports franchising.
And I would admit that by now most of us are aware that, for instance, in English football, teams like Chelsea hardly start with a substantial number of English-born players in their lineups; neither do several basketball teams carry mainly state-born players in the American NBA.
But are we not to give this CPL matter at least a modicum of analysis?
When the CPL squads were first announced, Trinidad offspinner Sunil Narine was named captain of Guyana, but that post has since been given to Ramnaresh Sarwan.
When the CPL opens next week, therefore, West Indies One-Day International captain Dwayne Bravo, born in Santa Cruz, Trinidad, will lead the T&T Red Steel team, West Indies’ Test and T20 captain Darren Sammy, born in Micoud, St Lucia, will captain the St Lucia Zouks, Chris Gayle of Kingston, Jamaica, will lead the Jamaica Tallawahs, Guyanese Sarwan will lead his country, while only Antigua and Barbados will be led by non-nationals Marlon Samuels of Jamaica and Pollard respectively.
Is something wrong with that picture or am I too sensitive, insular and overly patriotic as a Barbadian who must watch Dwayne Smith, born in Codrington Hill, St Michael, Barbados, being led by his junior Trinidadian counterpart who has little or no leadership experience?
Further to the point, why would Guyana only be satisfied with this franchise setup after a clear change of the original captain; while Barbados, boasting a captain who is current, submissively allows a non-tested captain to lead the Tridents?
Why must Barbados, still a regional cricketing force, be one of only two being asked not to focus on nationality as an issue in the CPL?
And what gives Trinidad the gumption and apparently incontestable cricketing superiority that makes it the producer of not one captain in the upcoming CPL series, but three in Narine, Bravo and Pollard?
As the joint highest paid player in the 2010 Indian Premier League, Pollard comes eminently qualified as an Icon Player for the CPL, but not as a leader in my view since his lone crack at leadership was when he deputized for Dwayne Bravo in the second game of the West Indies tri-nation series.
Smith, meanwhile, with an average not far removed from that of Pollard, is a proven leader and, in my emotional but also commonsensical view, should be the man at the helm of the host country when the glitzy CPL opening ceremony comes off at Kensington Oval on July 30.
Not only does this event, in which a now-rejected Barbados captain will be noticeable, come at the peak of Barbados’ national festival Crop Over, but the maiden game will be against the St Lucian Zouks, rightfully led by a St Lucian.
And although I must remind myself that this is the essence of franchises and will take some getting accustomed to, it also raised some eyebrows in the IPL three years ago.
Furthermore, if nationality doesn’t matter and the bottom line is simply money and performance, why do stipulations mandate seven nationals for each CPL team; and why did one organizer seem to be bursting with pride when he spoke of the “large local contingent in each of the franchise teams throughout the Caribbean”.
Something is wrong with this picture, and such a situation would never have gone down gently in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago if no Trini was named captain of the Red Steel or, in fact, any other team; and equally insulting would have been the thought of somebody from the “small islands and dem” captaining Trinidad.
Politics is already ingrained in West Indies cricket, so why should politics not be used in the arguments of Hammie-La and others, anyway?
And even if the concerns are explained away between now and next Tuesday, according to one popular Trini number by Ronnie McIntosh, “How It Go Look?”
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor of THE NATION.


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