Outside the team hotel, the party is about to begin on Friday night. With beers in hand, dressed in the Trinidad and Tobago jerseys, waving the unmistakable red and black flags, the guests are ready. But the heroes of the night haven’t arrived yet.
On the eve of Diwali, the team has given them the perfect present in the form of a stunning win against New South Wales Blues here. The Trinidadians were just thrilled being part of Champions League, let alone beating three big teams. The party people inform that back home, in the tiny Caribbean island, they have stopped work and are celebrating even if it’s only mid-day. “Trinidad is in a mess right now. People have one foot in a rum shop and the other in the office!” exclaims one gentleman.
“Ma Laxmi bless the boys and help them bring the cup,” says Seerajie Ganga. There are those eyes, and that smile. Bright and beautiful. They also belong to the captain of the T&T team, Darren Ganga, her second son.
Two of their sons – Darren and Sherwin – made it to the squad. And Seerajie, referred to as Jenno by the players, and husband Ramesh, a retired teacher, who had never been on a cricket tour before , could not resist the temptation to visit India, the land of their forefathers.
“We are Trinidadians but we still carry lots of Indian traditions,” says Ramesh. “Diwali is big back home. People fast for the festival or at least abstain from eating meat.” The couples of Indian descent, in Trinidad and Tobago, still get married in Indian temples.
Though they want to explore famous tourist destinations – the Taj Mahal, and most importantly the river Ganga – the main purpose of the visit has been cricket. At the matches in Hyderabad, boxed-in at the players’ stand, they keep the faith.
“I knew as long as (Keiron) Pollard and Sherwin were there we could win this one,” Seerajie says, still shaking with excitement. “They are a good bunch of players, none of the boys are rude.” They are the only player parents here, but Seerajie is used to host the bunch of them at the little pond in their house where the team members have come fishing.
The Trinidad and Tobago team hasn’t been kind on her nerves. But having watched Darren play for the West Indies for well over 10 years now, the heart doesn’t threaten to pop out every time now. She remembers his first Test, in South Africa in 1998, where the family used to get up at insane hours in the morning to watch him bat. But even more than that, she remembers a phone call.
“I can never forget that,” she says, eyes tearing up. “As soon as Darren was selected for the West Indian team, Brian Lara called up home and told me, ‘Don’t worry, I will take care of him.” For people from Trinidad, Lara is second only to God.
“Oh yes, even now everyone wants their son to play like Brian Lara. He is the idol,” chips in Ramesh. “He even called up before the start of the tournament and wished Darren luck.” Their sons may not the object of worship back home, but they certainly are leaving an imprint on their ancestral land.