It was not the best day to pass by Kiah’s Spot, a small shop in the suburb with a few wooden benches selling beer and playing music to customers. There was no soft music, no scope to give in to fancy emotions on a Sunday evening when the hosts’ exit from the World Cup looked imminent.
It was bouncers raining thick and fast, the passion running unrestrained and the pain, that comes from unfulfilled expectations, becoming palpable with each passing minute.
The following samples are not an expert’s opinion, but the explanation from a group of laymen who take their cricket with as much seriousness as those who only know cricket!
“Bad captaincy, bad selection, bad management. No need to keep fielders in the deep when the batsman approaches his century. Get them up close; put pressure. Don’t bite nails, keep feet moving. Lara is no more a great player. He has become a bad captain, worse than Antigua’s son and ‘A’ team skipper Dave Joseph.
“The bowlers have no brains. There were days when we bowled danger balls, the bumper, but now that the umpires take it away, we need to think. These guys can’t think. They bowl three balls in place and then go crazy.” Apt descriptions, perhaps, of the successors of a breed that has become extinct. “They say when you catch, you cup your palms upwards and get body close, so if the ball slips, it stays in reach.
These guys keep palms parallel to the ground!”
The speakers were Edwin Williams, a mason who calls himself ‘Baseman’, Faides Mack who is a butcher and taxi driver Hewlett Joseph, known as ‘Termite’ in his circles. They were deeply disturbed by the disappointment their team had subjected them to. Just like in India.
There was a difference, though. “They burn pictures there? We don’t. They throw stones at their houses? We don’t. Jesus! We just curse and go to the cricket the following week. We can’t live without it.”
The people here are not only intensely involved with the game, they follow it in detail. But they also treat it as just a game. That’s why they lose their head over it the day their team loses, but don’t mind mixing it up with some humour. “From India? You gone home long back maan.” After that, nobody wakes up with a headache. People flock Kiah’s Spot again, smile replacing anger.