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A ‘cricket anthem’ for unity

Ever wondered how the West Indies — with players from different sovereign island nations — sing one anthem? Here's the answer. The West Indies have something called a ‘cricket anthem’, which they have officially adopted recently — “Rally Round the West Indies…Now and Forever”, writes Venkat Ananth.

cricket Updated: Jun 18, 2009 23:03 IST
Venkat Ananth

Ever wondered how the West Indies — with players from different sovereign island nations — sing one anthem? Here's the answer. The West Indies have something called a ‘cricket anthem’, which they have officially adopted recently — “Rally Round the West Indies…Now and Forever”.

The anthem, written and composed by a Trinidadian legend, David Rudder was released in 1988.

Set to a peppy tune, it begins with the glory days, when the West Indies were winning series after series and rolling over oppositions. As one listens to the song, there is a tinge of lament, especially when the lyrics go “Some of the old generals have retired and gone. And the runs don't come by as they did before”.

A specific reference to Michael Holding comes right in the middle of the anthem, when the lyrics go “Way Down Under a warrior falls. Michael Holding falls in the heat of the battle. Michael shoulda left long time!”

This, according to Caribbean journalists, is about the time in the 80s when Holding was struggling to attain his 250-wicket target and was bowling way below his potential.

This, the songwriter feels, is the root cause of the downfall of cricket in the Caribbean --- players not willing to move on, not leaving on a high.

The lyrics are particularly significant given the troubles West Indies cricket is going through.

Even as it talks about the rise of the game in the West Indies, there is a point in the anthem where there is admission of the divided nature of the islands. The anthem then urges the people to come together and support the West Indies. “This anthem gives us our identity as West Indians, not as citizens of individual islands,” said Phillip Spooner, the West Indies media manager in England.

The team manager, Omar Khan, told HT that, “During Clive Lloyd's days, we used to have a tradition where the national anthem of the country the captain belonged to would be played. But, over a period of time, we've evolved this into our official anthem.”

There were also suggestions made before the World T20 that before every match, the national anthem of one island should be played.

The last verse of the anthem goes like this: “Are doomed forever to be at somebody's mercy...Little keys can open up mighty doors.”

Perhaps, the West Indies are in search of that elusive key.