The agony and the ecstasy of the West Indies cricket T20 win – what it means for the diaspora when the West Indies show disharmony on the world stage.
This was one of the most thrilling cricket matches seen for years. Chasing England's earlier total of 155-9 at the Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata, India, the Windies needed to score 19 runs in the final over to win. The low England score gave the West Indies could have left them with a false confidence about reaching the target and time after time they stumbled to make the score of 159/9 leaving themselves 19 to in the last over. The destruction of Stokes by Carlos Braithwaite who smashed four sixes from the first four balls of the last over was one of the greatest moments in West Indian cricket history. No one had given this team a chance at the beginning of the tournament. In the face of adversity, the under 19s, the women’s and men’s teams won all three of their respective competitions.
Why is this important in the UK? Ever since Norman Tebbit came up with the ”cricket test” in 1990, there was a time when supporting the West Indian team coincided with not being British. Funnily enough, the large reductions in the size of the crowds supporting the West Indies in the UK came along with the steady decline of the test team. The cricket test is no longer relevant in the 21st Century. The cultural identity of many young West Indian black people is being lost in the UK, Canada and the U.S. as we integrate and seemingly have no association with great cricketing events which demonstrated moments of colonial defiance in the 1970’s and 80’s . Yes, you can be black and British and support the West Indies.
Many of the reasons for the decline are founded in the incessant in-fighting that is continually played out in public by both the players and the management of the cricket teams. Both the Man of the Match and the Captain of the men’s team made it clear that many of the players had something to prove for themselves and their team members, and also that people should be supporting them. This is possibly the only global stage where a proud diaspora was listening and in return heard the usual negativity about ourselves.
What is needed is for someone to rise above the petty internal politicking and bring these formidable teams together to represent the best of the region and maintain links with the diaspora. This will help with support but more importantly represent the region globally in a way that allows the real true ability of the young to shine through.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) needs to represent the sport in a way that befits its position in the region, and on the world stage, and therefore reform of the Board is urgently needed. Caricom understands that the clock is ticking and access to 30 million recent descendants will be lost if action is not taken to manage and celebrate the global success of the West Indian Cricket team and use this as a basis for moving the sport forward to show the brilliance we have in the region and our people.
Start representing and stop dissenting!