COLUMN – Greats are not treated that way!

Today's WomanI am writing a deliberate potpourri. We have to be more able to multitask on issues as a country. We must stop discussing topics as “nine-day wonders”. We must be able to consume carnivals and free fetes and keeps our eyes glued to political issues.

If we do not inculcate this continuous debate mechanism in our national discourse, we are going to make the same errors we have in the last seven years; errors we cannot afford to deepen or sustain.

We must continue to be appalled and shocked that it would take almost a month to complete an autopsy when foul play is to be ruled out of the death. We must ask ourselves how the minister presiding over the tipping fee fiasco could be so dismayed over, in his view, the waste haulers reneging on their word to a three-month trial of the fee.

How should the electorate feel after voting for his administration which took power and reversed every tenet of the winning campaign?

We must ask ourselves how a minister could encourage a nation to “multiply” just mere weeks ago, but then in “plain talk” admit that everybody is not made to have children.

Some women and men sensitive to the rights of women have taken offence to the statement.

What is offensive is that the ministers in 2015 Barbados do not understand the significance of their voices in forming policy. They use words in a seemingly reckless manner without understanding that their words carry more weight than the words of most people. Notwithstanding that, the minister’s realization that parenthood is a significant responsibility and one not to be embarked upon simply for the sake of shoring up the National Insurance Scheme is health maturity.

Everybody is not suited to parenthood. We must assert that as a collective nation, as well as individual citizens, because we must be a part of the checks and balances in ensuring that children are protected. It is however pointless to outline it in a country where Government policy does not support the statement.

If everybody is not suited to parenthood, the logical reverse is that some unsuitable people will have children. The policy question then must be what happens when unsuitable people have children? What is the role of the state in the protection of that child? What are the state mechanisms? How are they to be activated? Where can unsuitable or suitable people get upskilling or retooling in parenthood?

If you are a part of the Government in a country where all of these questions have no answers, then it is little more than salacious to comment on the citizenry’s suitability for parenthood.

Not only must we be able to engage in our national debate; regional issues of significance should also occupy our attention.

The West Indies’ selectors’ treatment of Shivnarine Chanderpaul is a significant regional issue. I still remember the first evening I saw Chanderpaul batting on television. He was cute! I remember rambling on and on to my mother about him, and asking her more about him.

Of course, she had nothing much to tell me, because he was a relative unknown; but I watched the rest of that day’s play
for sure.

Chanderpaul went from being an unknown to being the man my mother and I hoped for at the crease when the West Indies were in trouble –– often as they were in the 1990s; and often still are.

He would always settle the order, and although he would make his runs one at a time, we always felt hopeful with good old Chanderpaul at the crease. I’m not sure how a career builds itself so slowly and surely, then for the selectors to dispense with it as if it were a crumpled CCC paper. As usual the blogs have gone crazy. In our typical Caribbean style, we are talking and talking back.

I wonder, do we really understand the issues?

C.L.R. James, the Trinidadian-born philosopher, historian and social commentator, posed the question: “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”

He then delivered Beyond A Boundary, which was able to lay bare cricket as a metaphor for the social and political currents in Commonwealth Caribbean society.  Have we forgotten what cricket really is? Has Caribbean cricket’s passing through the era of globalization changed the game format, as well as our reading of cricket’s functional uses in our society?

Does anybody else notice that Shivnarine Chanderpaul made his international debut two years after the People’s Progressive Party won elections in Guyana in 1992?  The history of the ethnic division in Guyanese political life is well documented.  Following James’ and Professor Sir Hilary Beckles’ analysis of cricket, it probably is not accidental that Chanderpaul became the first Indo-Caribbean player with over 100 Tests for the team at exactly the time that he did.

Chanderpaul’s slight has come from the Afro-Guyanese recently appointed head of selectors, Sir Clive Llyod.  Lloyd and his entanglements with politics and the Guyana Cricket Board are of recent history. Is it coincidence that Chanderpaul’s troubles come mere weeks after the ethnic-political guard has changed in Guyana?

When the WICB did away with Clive Llyod, Forbes Burnham paid his passage back to Guyana to play for his home side. Lloyd officially retired in 1985, at least one year and a half older than Shivnarine Chanderpaul now is. Perhaps some felt Sir Clive’s form was declining too, or that he had simply been around too long.

However, the decision to drop Chanderpaul will evoke the same ire as dropping Lloyd would have for the same reason: greats are simply not treated that way.

To dispel any doubt, Shivnarine Chanderpaul is a West Indian cricket great.  He is the metaphor of Caribbean defiance in the globalized era of West Indian cricket.  His technique was unorthodoxed, but then so were the issues facing his Caribbean. His innings were painfully slow sometimes, but he persevered just as the small societies and economies of the Caribbean did at the height of the global movement, to displace and replace any and all things not needed by the capitalist overlords.

This issue is another glaring manifestation that the management of West Indies cricket is simply not right. Why are we now trying to figure out when Chanderpaul should retire. Who is planning the careers of our cricket talent?

Are we still making sport at cricket, despite its importance and ability to create jobs and generate income for our badly floundering economies?

There is much to sort through and I understand C.L.R. James thoroughly when he asserts: “It seems to me that most commentators and analysts do not pay sufficient attention to a very important aspect of the game, the way in which at any particular period it reflects tendencies in the national life.” (Beyond A Boundary, 1983, Page 214.)

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has written a two-volume seminal treatise on West Indies cricket: The Development
Of West Indies Cricket: The Age Of Nationalism And The Age Of Globalization

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