With the Australians and Englishmen all set to party at the stadium on Sunday, irrespective of who eventually wins the Super Eights showdown, Antiguans might just feel a bit left out. As if to make up for that to an extent, or to show the cricket tourists what they are all about, the locals invited everybody to a bash at Sand Haven beach on Friday.
It was scheduled to be a programme featuring a beach cricket match between the locals and visiting media personnel, followed by a performance by the Big Bad Dread and The Baldhead. The Antiguan tourism department was in charge of things and must have been delighted with what it had come up with.
The game, took place under bright sunshine on a lovely day, with waves flooding the ‘pitch’ every now and then. Boundaries or even catches in the ‘deep’ happened in waist-deep water and to top it all, the team comprising Indian, English, Australian, Kiwi and South African newsmen faced Viv Richards and Richie Richardson among the opposition.
With hundreds crowding the place — now called ‘Bikini’s’ and formerly known as ‘Lashings’, till Richardson sold it a few years ago — were thrilled just to see the ‘King’ with a bat in his hand once again. As value addition, they got former Australian players Greg Blewett and Damien Fleming — here as commentators — in the role of umpires. It was not all, because Richardson was back to the fore again when the band played, this time with Curtly Ambrose.
“We enjoy our cricket in a different way. Because of the restrictions imposed by the ICC, you have not been able to see that during the matches, so this was an opportunity for us to show you how we like it. This was a welcome change because we felt you had not got the true picture from what you had seen at the ground. Hope you liked it too,” Richardson said.
He was not quite stating the obvious because most of those present were actually delirious with the experience. Food and drinks were adequate, there was music all over right from the start with either Richards or Richardson at different times gyrating to it and when they did not, there were enough pairs of legs around to shake to whatever was going on.
There was a small break after the match, which the local team won, and it was quite an experience to see Ambrose supervise whether all the cables had been plugged in properly and Richardson check the microphone settings.
“I listen to every kind of music depending on my mood. And because I want to be a professional musician, I must listen to whatever I can so that I can play a wide range of things,” said the fast bowler who fancies himself with a guitar in his hands these days.
Having taken the ICC stipulations very seriously, even if it means not going to the ground, the Antiguans have been hurt to see a situation where their favourite game is being played under the name of the World Cup with hardly any of them turning up for the matches. If they wanted to prove a point on Good Friday, they ended up making a few. To a newcomer to this place, there had hardly been better Fridays.