Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Lost Souls

The West Indies under 19 team recently completed an extremely successful series against their Australian counterparts. Winning the one day series two games to one and the only youth 'test' by 4 wickets, thanks to another hundred by Kraigg Brathwaite. This made me remember another good WI U-19 team, the under 19 team of 2004 that made the finals of the youth world cup , losing the finals to Pakistan in Bangladesh. 

Of the squad members that participated in that tournament only four players went on to represent the senior West Indies in ODI and test matches. Of the foursome only one, Denesh Ramdin had an extended run in the team, the rest of the squad fell by the wayside.

The WICB should have had systems in place to ensure that the majority of this squad formed the nucleus of the future West Indies teams. Most of the players were left to fend for themselves, this resulted in the majority of the team not fulfilling their cricketing potential to the maximum.

Players such as Jonathan Augustus, Zamal Khan and Rishi Bachan have not been heard of in any significant manner since 2004. There are also the few name that might sound familiar to the few who follow the regional game. Assad Fudadin, Liam Sebastian and Mervin Matthew have managed to become somewhat regular first class cricketers but they have certainly not set the world alight. Then there is the case of Tishan Maraj, who gave up cricket to successfully pursue a career in medicine, now struggling to make the T&T team.

Xavier Marshall, Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul should be known to the few readers of this blog, have made it due to their own determination to reach the highest level. It appears that this was achieved without any major WICB assistance.

From the current West Indies situation (some might say calamitous) we can no longer just depend on natural ability. There needs to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders in the game to convert teams of natural ability into teams of feared cricketers. In fact all members of the current under 19 team should be drafted into the Sagicor High performance Centre. To turn the boys into a mean cricketing machine.

If something like this is not done, the players may suffer the same fate as the members of the 2004 team. The likes of Kraigg Brathwaite will definitely play for the senior team sooner rather than later, given his knack for scoring hundreds for fun and his obvious desire for the game. Its the other players that may need the help.

Providing the WICB finds the right balance between youth and experience, then maybe then will we see a change in the fortunes of West Indies cricket.       

Thursday, 21 April 2011

WI v Pakistan T20I 2011

Krishmar Santokie must be wondering what must I do to get selected to play a T20I for the West Indies. It probably was taken for granted that he would have made his debut against Pakistan, so when the team was announced his name was nowhere to be seen. Although the game was won against the best efforts of Ravi Rampaul to loose it, the selection of the final eleven could have been better.

Ashley Nurse who was selected as the second spinner or some might say slow blower since there is not much spin involved, should have made way for Santokie. Santokie was the leading bowler in the Caribbean T20 and have and overall T20 record of 13 games, 26 wickets, 9.57 average, 5.61 economy rate, 10.2 strike rate. While Nurse's record after 11 games is 16 wickets, 15.37 average, 6.77 economy rate, 13.6 strike rate.

Clearly Santokie has the better bowling record, maybe it was Nurse's slightly better batting record that gave him the edge for this game. Only the selectors can answer this, but wouldn't it be better to have someone who is excellent at one aspect of the game (fielding not included since all players should be good fielders) as opposed to a player who is decent in all aspects. In addition there seems to be no rewarding bowlers for performing well in the domestic competition.

The game itself was good to look at in most parts, Andre Fletcher has again failed at the international level and he must learn that he could use his bat to hit the ball and not his pads, doing this may improve his statistics from an average of 10.61 and strike rate of 91.39. There was good batting by Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo who carried the West Indies from 2 for 1 to 101 for 2, Simmons played like a man with a point to prove and showed everyone that it was a mistake not to take him to the CWC, he showed great skill against both spin and pace.

Bravo's knock was a good one, but again he got out with a big score in sight by poor shot selection. If the shot had gone for six it would have been hailed as a great shot, but the fact is it didn't and it caused a promising innings to come to a premature end. This is an aspect of his game that Desmond Haynes will no doubt be looking into.

Marlon Samuels had a match to forget, from struggling to put the ball into the gaps to almost dropping Umar Akmal. That being said it was good to see him back in West Indies colours and undoubtedly he will shine in the ODI's and test matches.

Take nothing away from this team, this was a good win given all that went on off the field of play that could have distracted the players. In the weeks to come there may be more disclosures about the Chris Gayle saga and the dropping of Chanderpaul and Sarwan. Given the importance of West Indies cricket to the region, the minutes of all selection meeting should be made public. This would go a long way into eliminating the I say, they say banter.

Saturday brings a whole new challenge too this team, one that they should make the best off and shock the cricketing world. To the WICB, stop being so secretive and make everything public. Good luck guys and may you have a great game this Gloria Saturday

Monday, 11 April 2011

Johnnie's Fry Bake: Memories

Johnnie's Fry Bake: Memories: "In 1997 I was a trainee at the local sugar factory when we were all called into a room at the HR building and told that they will no longer ..."


In 1997 I was a trainee at the local sugar factory when we were all called into a room at the HR building and told that they will no longer be continuing our programme with immediate effect. This of course came as a shock to everyone, who now had to wonder where would we get training or even a job.

It was months before I was able to secure a job, during which time I had the bright idea to stop training with the Dow Village Cricket Club and try my luck with the nationally known Wanderers Cricket Club. To my surprise they were very accommodating of new players and I was welcomed quite warmly and even given the nickname as "Wimpy" since they say I resembled the skippers brother who had the same nickname. You could imagine the confusion this caused.

The training was rigorous, starting with many laps around the ground, then batting, bowling and fielding. Since there was no nets, all practice sessions took place in the middle, the evening was finished with catching practice. I didn't mind it at all since I was practising alongside players such as Richard SieuchanMarlon BlackDenis Rampersad, the latter two and myself went to the same schools from primary all the way to secondary school. This made acclimatization into the club so much easier. 

Practice had an intensity that I had never seen, probably due to the fact that at this level getting onto the first team meant there was a chance to be seen by the national selectors. One incident that has stayed with me was when a player known as Charlie (Rajendra Mangalie) was padding up to bat and Marlon Black insisted that he wore his helmet. After much deliberation he finally put it on, after about six or seven deliveries he got a short quick delivery from Black which somehow got between the grill of the helmet and left Charlie on the floor bleeding heavily from a nasty gash over his eye. Guess who was padded up next.....ME!!!!!

So I went into bat nervous as a man skinny dipping with piranhas, first few deliveries I was tentative, played and missed a lot, lost my stumps many times, until the coach asked me if I was batting with a tyre and suggested that I should start playing hop-scotch. After that I started to actually bat, hit quite a few nice shots, man I was playing like a pro, that was until I hit Mr Black for a cover drive that had the crowd on its feet (yes there were crowds at training). It was immediately after this shot for which I posed for pictures, that I realized I had a problem with short 90mph deliveries aimed at my head. I was bombarded with so much by the future WI quickie that I was the most relieved man when my stint was over.

The first match of the season was an away game against Queen's Park Cricket Club and to my surprise my name was on the team sheet. I was going to be playing at the Queen's Park Oval, I was as happy as a vagrant on jouvert morning. Stepping onto the field at the Oval for the warm up, the first thing I noticed was my reflection when I looked down on the outfield, at this point it didn't matter that I was the 12th man. We lost the toss and had to field first and of course being 12th man I was soon called onto the field as a substitute, did I mind.....hell no.....I was diving for balls that was hit straight at me, such a good time I was having.

The rest of the season I played mostly B-teams games which was quite fun and competitive. It also kept us quite fit for whenever a chance came up to join the first team. Sadly for me my only other time on the first team was another 12th man appearance, this time against Clarke Road United at their Wilson Road ground in Penal South Trinidad.The facilities there was a far cry from what I experienced at the Oval but it was a wonderful experience, which made me realize that people from South Trinidad are much friendlier than their northern counterparts.

During this time with the second team, the first team had made the finals of the Carib Shield 30 over a side night cricket finals at Guaracara Park against arch rivals Moosai Sports who had Tony Gray in their ranks. I made sure I had on my team training kit and reached at Gilbert Park to catch the team bus, all in an attempt to get into the ground free since I didn't make the team and was still unemployed.

Guaracara Park was filled to its 10,000 spectator capacity, there was no room between boundary line and spectator which prompted the skipper to say to the guys focus on the game and not on the sexy legs in the crowd!!! I was not playing so I was focusing on the sexy legs. The game itself was an excellent match, with Wanderers winning thanks to a century by Deonarine Deyal, even Tony Gray's super fast bowling couldn't save Moosai on that night. After that all I could remember was getting on the team bus, stopping by every bar between Guaracara Park and Gilbert Park, and trust me in Trinidad there is a lot. I have no idea on how or when I got home.

That game was at the end of what I would call an interesting season, and I was counting down the days to the next season. however, I was offered a job at one of the petrochemical plants and I suddenly the time for cricket was no longer there. It was substituted by work and when not in work, liming, and more liming. 

Would I have been a better cricketer if I had remained unemployed? Maybe I could have made the T&T team? I don't know the answers to those questions, what I do know is that I love how my life turned out and that my love for the game is still there. Who knows I may still pad up and test my skills against the younger generation........now where did I put my box!!!!!!

Thursday, 7 April 2011


"In the event of the teams in either semi final finishing on an equal number of points the right to advance to the final will be the team which gained the greater number of points when the two teams (of the teams which competed in the semi final) competed against each other in the group stage of the tournament"

This is the rule for the regional 4-day tournament that was in force long before the competition started. It's probably not the fairest rule as it does not reward a team for playing well during the entire season. That being said, this rule is very straightforward, and should not have caused the level of confusion that happened after T&T v Jamaica semi final. In that game Jamaica scored 664 all out and T&T replied with 448 for 9. This resulted in a no result where both teams finished with equal points.

According to the rule for the semi final "the right to advance to the final will be the team which gained the greater number of points when the two teams competed against each other in the group stage of the tournament". The group game between these two teams ended as follows: Jamaica 356 and 226 for 5 dec. T&T 279 and 248 for 5. Jamaica winning on first innings gained 6 points while T&T gained 3 points. My basic level maths tell me that 6 is greater than 3 and according to the rules Jamaica advanced to the finals.

The fact that the TTCB filed an injunction to stop the final was in poor taste and gave the impression that they are sore losers. How could the team management interpret the rule as saying that T&T would qualify due to finishing in a higher position baffles most people, except of course the majority of T&T cricket fans who kept saying that T&T were the better team and they should play in the finals. This silly injunction was swiftly denied by the sitting judge in the Port of Spain high court.

It could also be an avenue to distract the population from the fact that the decision making upon winning the toss was wrong. Also if T&T is the better team as many like to claim then why were they unable to bowl out the Jamaicans for a much lower score, they were simply batted into submission and like a true wounded animal or politician they are now clutching at straws in an attempt to hide their own ability.

T&T should be satisfied with an excellent season thus far, CT20 champions, 2nd place in the 4-day league (higher than the much vaunted English Lions) and a date with destiny the Airtel CLT20 in India. 20/20 cricket is where T&T are way above all other regional teams and even many first class teams in the world. This claim can be substantiated with the evidence that T&T has only lost competitive T20 games to Guyana and the New South Wales Blues.

To Trinidad & Tobago cricket, accept the results which were correct according to the rules and try to figure out where improvements are needed and begin planning for what should be an exciting Airtel CT20 tournament. Good luck to CCC and Jamaica in the finals and let the best team win. 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

My First ODI Experience

Got up at 4am on the 27th March 1993, left home in Central Trinidad at 4:30am my destination was the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain. Those were the days of tickets being sold on the day, we reached the oval at 5:30am and joined the 'line', I use the word line loosely, since it was more like a triangle. 

The crowd outside was like nothing i have ever experienced before in my young life, everyone was full of excitement, there was constant 'picong' and not to mention the free flow of alcoholic beverages, and yes this was before the sun came up. It was a truly memorable experience, one that will never happen again since all tickets are pre sold weeks in advance.

The gates were opened at about 6am and somehow I was able to make it to the ticket counter and pay my $50.00TT fee and I was inside the oval for the very first time. I was surprised at the size of the ground and all the facilities that they had, stuff that a 14 year old from rural Trinidad never knew existed locally. For the $50.00 my 'seat' was any available spot on the concrete cycle track in front of the Carib stand.

The cycle track was fully packed by 7am and remember this game was not starting until 9:30am, the wait didn't seem so long as the people around you were so nice and friendly that the time flew. Complete strangers were offering me stuff to eat and stuff to drink, there we people reading, some listening to radio and others were catching up on some sleep. There were also quite a number of individuals who had their fair share of liquor and were passed out.

I was having so much fun that I didn't even realize that the game was about to start, I was so busy taking in the sights and sounds that I didn't even see the teams had made their way onto the field. Apparently West Indies won the toss and choose to bat. I clearly remember asking why is the Pakistani keeper standing so far back after the first ball i knew why. Wasim Akram delivered a ball that seemed to still be rising when Rashid Latiff collected, my thought were TV does not give you the real picture.

The game itself was exciting for a first timer, getting to see West Indies players like Haynes, Lara, Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, Hooper, Richardson and Pakistan players like Akram, Younis, Inzamam, Rameez Raja was absolutely incredible. The noise when a boundary was struck or a wicket fell was phenomenal something I have never experienced before and something the has stayed with me all my life.

Unfortunately West Indies were not able to defend the 259 for 4 that they posted, Pakistan winning by 7 wickets. It was an absolutely enjoyable day one that I'm thankful that I saved the money to go on that day. I still go to the oval to look at International matches, but the atmosphere while still excellent may never reach that level. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Groovy Soca Monarch Review

Another groovy soca monarch has come and gone and this time the winner is deserving of his title. KES delivered the performance of the night making up for the generally poor showing from the artists before him. His delivery was excellent both vocal and visual. The guest appearance of Lord Nelson was a fitting tribute to the original wotless man, the interaction with the crowd was also fantastic, in fact he was the only one to get close to the crowd and connect with the people. Well done man and we all look forward to the new album that you will be releasing after Carnival.

Benjai was deserving of second place, in fact he was in the lead up until KES performed. His downfall I believe was the band, their playing of the music for the song was not up to standard and his use of the national anthem in the beginning of his performance maybe against some laws of the land. I don't believe he should be charged he already has enough legal issues.

The people that should be charged are the judges for giving Destra third place for the half ah song she performed, even her back up dancers didn't even know she was finished. It was a poor performance from an artist that was expected to deliver a masterpiece. Allrounder deserved to be placed third, just for sheer entertainment it was interesting to say the least and who would ever forget the Gold Member outfit and the Mohawk wig

This brings me to the acts who took an unwanted page from the Soca Chutney book. Patch, Blaxx and others, start writing something that requires the use of some part of your brain and not this rum, rum and more rum shit, oh gosh man ease we up nah!!!!!!

The most disturbing aspect was the use of children in an environment where there is excessive alcohol consumption, and all the other activities. No child and I mean no child should be at the soca monarch finals after midnight, where are the parents or child services, UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!

In the power category it was close between Iwer and Machel, with Machel coming out on top I say congrats to him and this is one time the judges had a hard task. there will be the masses that will say it was fixed, I'm sure the same would have happened if Iwer had won. The best part for me was in the beginning when JW & Blaze finally admitted that they wished they had sung Palance this year!!!!!!

Congrats to all winners and here's to having a safe and enjoyable carnival 2011.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cricket & Betting

The news today was that Marlon Samuels respectfully declined an invitation to join the West Indies teams at the World Cup saying that he is not ready to return to the international fold. The immediate question in my view is is this the only reason that he choose against going to India. I do not doubt for a minute that he is genuine in his view that he is not ready to return to the international fold, but i am wondering if the match fixing allegations had anything to do with it, similar to the South African players  who had refused to tour India until they get assurances that they wont be arrested.

This brings me to another point, why is betting still illegal in India, legalizing it might be the way to stop illegal bookmakers from trying to get their hands on the players . It could also be a good source of income for the BCCI or even used to help the many under privileged individuals and families in India. Then again the reason could be a moral one, I'm not here to judge just to share my view.

On to the world cup itself, the ICC (Idiots Controlling Cricket) has in there "wisdom" decided that from the next edition associate nations would not be allowed to participate. As a result, from the next edition I would like to suggest that the ICC change the name from the Cricket World Cup to the 10 nations cricket festival. I cannot see how it could be called a world cup with most of the world being excluded. As Graeme Swann said "how could you take the world out of the world cup".

This is the first world cup where the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is being used and from the first day, it was introduced in the wrong manner. Players should not have the right to challenge the umpire's authority if that is the case then the umpire could sit in the shade and let hawk eye do all the work. Granted that mistakes are made with  or without the UDRS, (just ask India) a much better way to use technology is to allow the umpires only to seek help when they are unsure about a dismissal. This was tried with great success during the one and only Stanford Super Series by members of the elite panel. Its something to look into in the future.

Exciting cricket is expected at the world cup and also here in the Caribbean, with three rounds to go after a break this weekend the push for the semi finals will be tight. The top four teams have played the best cricket with CCC being the surprise and Jamaica seemingly having the right mix and have a player in the form of his life. T&T needs to work on their application while batting and the English Lions are quickly realizing that the teams in the Caribbean are not as weak as they are finding it difficult to force a victory after the first game.

Interesting times up ahead, will the West Indies make the quarter finals and who will take the regional crown. All shall be revealed in due course, till next time....CHEERS!!!!!! 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Chutney Soca Monarch

And the winner is................by 7000 votes..........RRRRRRRRR.......Rickki Jai. 

Backstage at Skinner Park utter chaos:

Ravi B: "how could dey give dat to he i is d one who tell d whole country dat i spend $300,000 on d show how could dey give me only $100,000...ah go do fuh dem wait"

Jai: "Wait nah i really win...nice....ah hope nobody ask meh to share meh 2 million wit d  other artist, i hope nobody get dat idea".

Ravi B: "How dem people chupid so dey ent see i light up my jacket and spray paint abs on meh skinny body"

Jai: "I would like to thank White Oak for allowing me to sing this commercial here tonight and for waiving all applicable fees"

Ravi B: "Look at d shit he sing.....blasted rum song....he ent even have d balls to theif a good old indian tune like me"

Jai: "Buh wha do this skinny ass pipsqueak he ent know i singing while he was still liquid"

OK people all joke aside, the behaviour of Ravi B was unacceptable, although he had a right to be disappointed its human nature his action as a public figure shows people who look up to him as role model that violence is the way to express your disappointment. If there is cause for him to be charged for inciting a large crowd to violence he should be charged.

Lets face it, the quality of music that night was not at its highest standard all we can hope for is a better show next year. Anyhow I look forward to the soca and groovy soca monarch competitions with excitement...lets see how the Machel / Destra "battle" will shape up.

My Thoughts on the First Class Season thus Far

Two rounds have finished in the 2011 first class season and it looks like it might be a close one this time. We have three teams at the top: England Lions, Jamaica & T&T, all with one win and a draw. Two of this top three will be facing each other this weekend at the Queen Park Oval in Port of Spain. Both teams, the Lions and T&T will have to keep the distractions of the pre carnival activities away for this encounter (good luck with that).

The other leader Jamaica has a not so easy task of taking on the Bajans who sit second to last after losing first innings points in both of their high scoring games. After the third round is finished things might begin to look a bit more open or even tighter at the top, time will tell.

Here is a team by team breakdown:

England Lions:
One win and a draw, they have already shown that batting will be their strong point, the bowling may not be as penatrative as it seemed against the Leeward Islands. In face of a score of 471 by Barbados they applied themselves and went about their task in a professional manner that most other teams would do well to adopt.

Horrible on the first day against Guyana yet still managed to recover to win that game. How did they do it, maybe Sean Devers who was there watching the game unfold could shed some light on the matter. Marlon Samuels is again tempting the region with his undoubted talent, lets hope for the sake of West Indies cricket he is consistant and we may just see him in the side againt Pakistan. My concern is the form of Brendan Nash scores of 29, 25, 0 & 4 may be cause to worry but he still has time in the season to rectify this. Jerome Taylor is back and this can only mean good things, I would like to see him return to the kind of form that destroyed England at Sabina.

Trinidad & Tobago:
Undoubtly blessed by a kind fixture list in which their first three matches are at home, although in both of their games so far they have been pushed to the limit to get the points. The emergence of Shannon Gabriel (10 wkts) and the re-emergence of Rayad Emrit (7 wkts) will be good news for Darren Ganga. Denesh Ramdin is showing form with the bat and his wicketkeeping was never in question, but consistency is the keyword here. Who now after Darren Bravo's reported performance with the glove for the Windies vs Sri Lanka might give him food for thought. If the T&T players dont get distracted by all the carnival activities it could be a good match. Not sure the attendance will be what the cricket board might have hoped for but lets hope for good cricket.

Never did I think the CCC would have done so well and I must say i'm plesently surprised. No longer can they be considered a developmental side that is ripe for the picking, they have shown that they can hold their own. However the perception that they are a Barbados 'B' side is still there, seven players from the side that lost to T&T are from Barbados with the token Trini, Guyaneese & Jamaican thrown in, apparantly collages and campuses exists only in Barbados. Could someone also explain to me why Floyd Reifer is still playing and not concentrating on coaching, his manner of dismissal in the 2nd innings against T&T showed he learned nothing in all his years. Anyhow, keep up the good work CCC and may you grow in strength.

An inexperienced side had Jamaica on the ropes on the first day of the first match but couldnt maintain it over the four days required and eventually lost, and either by poor planning or the need to pay for the Providence stadium their game against the Leewards was 'played' at Bourda. Bourda looked like an island on the Demerara river not a former test ground, while i'm sure whatever concert / event at Providence went off without a hitch. Its unfair to gauge the guyaneese team after one game, lets hope for better luck next time.

Windward Islands:
Poor against CCC and probably saved by the weather against Jamaica, the Winward islands are like the West Indies of West Indies cricket, you never know which team will show up. A loss and a draw means they have lots of catching up to do, i'm not to sure if they have the fire power to do that. However maybe they will make me eat humble pie or as we trinis like to say "ah put goat mouth on dem".

Poor poor Barbados, never has a side played so good yet stuck so low on the standings, as good as they have played the other side has been slightly better and with Jamaica on Friday, it may not get better in a hurry. It good to see Fidel Edwards back and the scoring of Kirk Edwards, Ryan Hinds and  Kraigg Clairmonte Brathwaite have been good. Given the talent in this side I see them making progress as long as they goet too wound up by the other team and poor umpiring decisions.

Leeward Islands:
What can i say about this side, are they still missing Runako Morton or are they just not that good this season. It will be unfair to judge after one completed game so I will not judge and i'll wait until the next match to pass my judgement.

So i'm looking forward to this weekend of cricket when i'm not getting on wotless at the various events taking place this weekend. Till next time......cheers!!!!

Rum Song Culture

When Ravi B released 'Rum is meh lover', singing about rum was still quite a novelty, most people, myself included fell in love with it for many reasons. In the following years many artist followed this route of singing about rum to the tune of old and not so old indian songs (oh how my grandparents must be hating this in the afterlife). This brought them various degrees of success and I for one can't blame the artist for doing this. Just like many of us they have families to take care of and if its making money they should go for it.

The problem is when you hear primary school children singing "Rum is Meh Lover", "Bar Man give Meh ah Guiness and Puncheon", "Bring D Rum" etc. Should we blame the artist, the media or the parents, i'll leave it up to you to decide. I have my view but that will lead into a whole new discussion. 

I refuse to believe in this country of many talented people that songwriters cannot come up with original soca chutney music. Maybe they have, but because of the demand of the drunken thousands they choose the rum, or as was hinted to by Andy Singh in a gayelle interview their music is not getting airplay. That interview hinted to the presence of a chutney mafia where only selected songs are being played, more on that later.

Another question I have and maybe someone who is reading this may be able to answer, were all the required approvals obtained from the copyright holders to ensure that this level of sampling was sanctioned. If not then it might be in the best interest of all involved that the music stay confined to T&T, Guyana & the respective diaspora all over the world. I shudder to imagine the legal ramifications if the Indian Copyright Office gets a hold of this.

It may take one brave artist to change or it may take all of us. Only time will tell........