-Western Grandstand- A happy captive of Twenty/20 cricket
From as far back as I can remember, I have always been a lover of cricket. Whether it was playing in my front yard with my brothers or playing at my primary school, it was never easy to pull me away from the game, which gave me so many wonderful childhood memories.
One of the childhood memories that still brings a smile to my face was the many times I would hang around at Sunday school for the roll call and then quietly slip out of the church to watch community cricket matches at a nearby playing field.
By the age of 11, I was a bona fide fan of international cricket. I can still remember sitting up late into the night with my father, listening to the exploits of Sir Gary Sobers, Rohan Kanhai and Lance Gibbs on radio commentary during the 1968 West Indies tour of Australia.
While I had no idea what most of the players looked like in those days of no television coverage, and just occasional newspaper photographs, the West Indian stars were my idols and I would often pretend I was one of them while playing backyard or primary-school cricket. We would even adopt the names of some of the players.
Interestingly, in those days I had no problem listening to the five days of a Test match on the radio. During the days, I could hardly wait for 10:30 a.m. start of each day's play, and I very much disliked the rest days, which would come after three days, as in my mind it was disrupting the flow of the game.
By my teenage years, when I was old enough to actually go out and watch regional cricket, it was my greatest delight to spend time watching the stars out of Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and the Combined Islands matching skills against the Jamaican players. In addition, I would always be glued to the television set when Test cricket was on.
Back then, there were no one-day internationals (ODI), Twenty/20 cricket, coloured clothes and white balls. It was just the stately two-day parish, four-day regional matches and five-day Test matches. For all those games, the players were meticulously decked out in full white it was indeed a gentleman's game in most respects.
When ODI cricket came to the fore in 1975, I resented it. In my mind, it was careless cricket. The batsmen were not playing the attractive strokes I had grown up admiring as they were usually just throwing their bats around, which looked rather ugly, to say the least. Had the West Indies not won the inaugural World Cup 1975, I probably would not have developed an appreciation for ODI cricket.
Now, with Test cricket getting all but completely worthless, I have all but become a total Twenty/20 convert. Earlier this week, I heard on a radio sportscast that Pakistan had beaten England and I was completely taken by surprise because, in all the excitement of the Jamaica Tallawahs dominating the Caribbean Premier League, I did not even realise that a Test match was being played in England.
In fact, as things are at the moment, the West Indies and India are now engaged in a Test series right here in the Caribbean and it has failed to catch my interest. In fact, I can't see myself spending five days before my television watching any of the games. On reflection on my many years of watching cricket, it has dawned on me that I have been become a convert of Twenty/20 cricket.