On occasions too numerous to mention, I would hear people say that they cannot afford to take on stress. Of course, it was not until recently that the word ‘stress’ entered my lexicon. As a boy growing up I could not recall any moment when I heard my mother talk about being stressed out.
She would say that she was fed up or that she was under pressure, but never did I hear her say that she was stressed. And so it was that I grew up not knowing anything about stress.
These days, it is so different. Everybody is stressed. The word has even been attached to people. I would hear young women describing an individual as being “sheer stress’. Even I am stressing myself, albeit with no serious consequences.
The root of my stress is the West Indies cricket team. I am an avid fan. I have been with this team for years. I have been with them from the days when they were England’s whipping boys. Then that changed in 1963. West Indies cricket had arrived.
Yes; we lost a few matches, but we also won a lot. I remember when we won the Cricket World Cup in 1975. I have a photograph holding the trophy when Clive Lloyd and the boys brought it to Bartica. We got a whipping later that year and into the next when Australia drubbed us 5-1.
Then came the glory days. We beat all and sundry at home and away. We won more than we lost. There was no television, but radios brought us everything. I was happy and I knew nothing about stress. There were some disappointments, but I knew that the West Indies would bounce right back.
Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ireland were nowhere in the picture. Sri Lanka was just making an appearance. India was there, but we always beat them. So too was Pakistan. One can now imagine my stress that Bangladesh, a team that the world once said was not ready for international cricket, is beating the stuffing out of the once glorious West Indies.
I remember when Bangladesh came to the region and played against a second string West Indies team. They won that series, but we took a Test match off them. They came back when Brian Lara was captain. The first match was drawn. Lara was so incensed that he said that he would resign the captaincy if his team did not whip Bangladesh in the next. He did.
I remember South Africa coming here to play their first Test match following their re-entry to the Test scene. Barbados’ Kensington Oval was almost empty. West Indies seemed to be meandering toward defeat when the former masters, among them Vivian Richards, saying that the young players seemed not to have sense of history. We went on to win.
So here I am watching every Tom, Dick and Harry Lall beating the stuffing out of West Indies. Last year we hammered Bangladesh in the Tests, but lost to them in the One-day series. That was when I began to understand stress.
So here we are in Bangladesh, losing as though that is our nature. What has happened to West Indies cricket? Many things. The best players came into conflict with the cricket Board and opted to ply their trade anywhere they could for a bright payday.
The Board chopped and changed the up and coming players until there is nothing left to chop.
Last week I spoke about the advent of the smart phone and its influence on young people. They no longer need to play cricket to have an enjoyable time. The result is that I have to watch my team being beaten by everybody.
Just recently they could not even win the qualifying tournament against Afghanistan. In fact, they had to enter the qualifying tournament to get into the Cricket World Cup next year. And when they qualified, barely, there were smiles as though the team had landed on the moon.
One view is that West Indies does not have a cricketing programme, the likes of which exist in England, Australia and India. Even the local clubs are lacking. They have fallen from cricket clubs to bat and ball clubs, the likes of which existed when I was a little boy and when people went to see the matches for entertainment.
More recently, West Indies have been playing to empty stands, because people have walked away. They can do without the stress of paying good money to see their team beaten like schoolboys.
The captains and coaches are always saying that the team is turning the corner. It has to be a very long corner. Perhaps they mean that the team is turning the corner that would take them away from cricket.
Last week, I spent tortuous hours hoping for the best and could have ended up in hospital from all the stress that had built up inside me. Friends would say to me that I have time to waste following the team. And indeed, I know many who have simply found other things to do than watch West Indies play. It is a sad reflection of what a once great team has become.
But I love cricket. I have been watching India play Australia and on my phone, I have been watching New Zealand play Sri Lanka.
Even now as I look back at the woeful West Indies, some things come to mind. There was the Pakistani supporter who died as soon as his team won a match or it might have been a World Cup. He was in the grips of tension all the way. When the team won all he could say was “God is great”. Then he died.
I remember when New York won the Stanley Cup, the pinnacle of ice hockey back in 1994. A fan proclaimed that he could now die happy. He had been waiting for 58 years. I don’t have 58 years left.
Jan 21, 2019President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Wayne Forde challenged participants of the Concacaf facilitated two-day Club Marketing Workshop, which c oncluded yesterday, to strive to implement...
The Police Commissioner told a press conference that Charrandass Persaud is being investigated for bribery and if possible... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected]il.com / [email protected]