An afternoon at the Kingston Cricket Club, overlooking Sabina Park, is like a journey back to the 1960s. Members and old timers either lounge in old armchairs on the lower deck or take the high wooden stools in the bar, sipping coconut water or white rum while viewing an exciting cricket match.
Old swinging teak doors, traditional fare like salt fish, oxtail and rum cake on the menu or the giant grandfather clock on the wall making its presence felt at the stroke of noon — there is an undeniable old world charm here.
On the decline
Cricket clubs in Jamaica have played a long and illustrious role in the history of the West Indies team. But now they are on the decline, buckling under the ever growing need of money and progress.
Despite their diminishing importance, cricket clubs have in the past been social catalysts. Nearby, the Lucas Cricket Club, one of the oldest clubs in Kingston, was the club where George Headley and Frank Worrell, the first coloured West Indies captain, played.
Run down by problems, the club was almost on the verge of closure till Chris Gayle rehabilitated it with a donation of $500,000 last year.
The Kingston Cricket Club, 150 years old, boasts of a long and illustrious list of Test cricketers who emerged from its portals. Only five years ago they allowed ladies to enter its premises. But it hasn’t seen as lucky as the Lucas Cricket Club.
“We have fallen back over the years. Things are getting tighter financially every year,” said Anil Lalwani, a trader from Mumbai who has been a member of the Kingston Cricket Club for 20 years.
“I don’t get paid by the club anymore,” said Sabina Park pitch curator Charles Joseph. “Sabina Holdings (the stadium management) pays me. But I can’t leave this club. They got me a house. I have been coming here for 49 years,” said the 68 year-old, who can’t do without his dose of white rum during a match.
“So much has changed. The pitches have become slower as we don’t give enough time for the grass to grow back. But earlier Malcolm Marshall used to breathe fire here. There is too much cricket now but nothing beneficial for West Indies cricket. The local Senior Cup has been cut down from a two-day match to one day. How will the kids learn,” asked Joseph.
Nostalgia is the only thing that keeps Joseph going.