Colourful Caribbean Cricket Centers

By Prof Ravi Chaturvedi

TORONTO, Canada – Kerry Packer, the Australian television tycoon brought colour and spectacle in cricket by founding the rebel World Series Cricket (WSC) in 1977-78. The night cricket was a revolution in cricket.

The introduction of coloured-clothing (instead of white), black-sight screen and white balls was an attractive spectacle. The recent innovation of Premier Leagues with cheerleaders is the latest addendum to the entertainment and eye appealing spectacle for the spectators.

Colourful Caribbean Cricket Centers

Cheerleaders in Caribbean Premier League

Cricket in the Caribbean is not a game but a culture that binds the different islands under one banner- the West Indies Cricket.

It is a national sport enjoyed with the total involvement of the people. Actually, cricket in the Caribbean is really a people’s game.

Spectators clad in bright coloured clothing, carrying bugles, conches, drums and other musical instruments provide a unique canvas to the setting of the Caribbean cricket stadia  The icing on the cake is the presence of special spectators, the ‘VIPS’ in their own right.

They have been entertaining spectators, both at the bright and dull moments in the stands to relieve them (at times) of the monotony of the proceedings in the center. West Indies cricket, to the outside world is all – Headley, Worrell, Weekes, Walcott, Hall, Sobers, Lloyd and Lara. But to author with his close association with the cricket in Caribbean since 1976 (when commented for All India Radio) there were other eye-catching spectacles on the ground as well.

There were entertainers, joking and laughing spectators colourfully attired.

Cricket crazy spectators find ways and means to watch the game they love intensely. In the earlier days of the game, tents formed the boundary of the ground and shelter to the VIPs.

The poor enthusiasts for want of money could not afford to buy a ticket to enter the ground. They devised a novel method and will make a hole in the tent. Those who got the view of the proceedings on the pitch will describe (like a present day commentator) the happenings to helpless to ‘watch’ the game with their ears rather than the eyes. But the most amazing spectacle observed by the author during his commentary tenure in the Caribbean was the spectators perched on tree-tops on the nearby trees of the cricket venues in Guyana and Jamaica.

Trini Posse band at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad

Trini Posse band at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad

Most of the Caribbean international cricket venues have their share of entertainment at the cricketing center. In recent years, besides the normal components of entertainment, both in terms of men and material, the Trini Posse band at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad is the cynosure of all eyes. The band is aroused to action during intervals, fall of a wicket or a boundary hit.

Another regular feature at the Queen’s Park, Oval in Trinidad is a character by name ‘Blue Food’ for over three decades who regales players and public by his antics.

In recent years, the spectators have been seen in the stands with coloured faces. Cricket spectacle reached its crescendo when spectators coloured their faces in their national flag colour.

Over the years, it has become a common sight in all the cricket venues across the world.

The spectators at Kensington Oval in Barbados have seen the antics of ‘King Dyal’ and Mac Fingall. The former lives nearby and he rides a bicycle to reach the ground, the dynamo of the cricket venue who is formally dressed in a coloured suit, changed, both at lunch and tea time. He is the livewire of the Kensington. He not only travels throughout the Caribbean to watch cricket but has also been to Lord’s as visitor of the touring West Indies teams. He remained unemployed throughout his life and died in poverty to earn a sea burial. The latter is a comedian and a school teacher whose band entertains the crowd during a Test or ODI in Barbados. He is one of the Caribbean’s leading entertainers, honoured with the Barbados Service Medal.

The crowd at the cricket venue in Jamaica, the Sabina Park, Kingston has been entertained by a ‘Lennie’ named character who mimicks the greats of the West Indies cricket, both the present and the past. The scene shifts to ‘Lennie’s corner on the fall of a wicket or during the intervals, when he would enter the ground and entertain the spectators by mimicking familiar Gary Sobers blustering gait marked by upturned shirt collar.

A common feature on the Recreation Ground in Antigua is the sight of a long-named Labon Kenneth Blackburn Llewellyn Bouchan Benjamin (named by his father to recall his colonial masters).

He earned the epithet of Gravy for his craving for gravy in his food. He made an abortive attempt to settle in USA for number of years but prodigal finally returned home.

He has vast array of themes in his entertainment armour. Benjamin’s comic acts include showing his costumes and gadgets. His other pranks are appearing dressed as a nurse with a wig and stethoscope and Santa Claus or a boxer wearing giant-sized gloves. His other popular entertainment item is rope jaunt by standing on his hands and swing the rope to greet an incoming batsman.

His compatriot ‘Mayfield’ has talent to evoke fun and laughter. A common feature is the duo entering the stadium with boxing gloves on and a referee with boxers ready for a fight before the start of the play in all sessions.

Cricket is people’s game in the Caribbean. People from all walks of life, of all colour and creed participate in cricket with same passion and pleasure as in Trinidad & Tobago’s world-acclaimed carnival.

*Prof Ravi Chaturvedi, a Zoologist is a cricket commentator, author with 23 cricket books, avid Caribbean cricket follower, bestowed Padma Shri national awarded for his role in establishing, popularizing and providing credibility to Hindi cricket commentary.  

 

Posted in: Sports
  • Archives:

  • Categories:

  • Tags: