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ICC Victory Does Much For Caribbean Psyche
Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2004

by George Alleyne,

"I have drunken deep of joy/ And I will taste no other wine tonight." Shelley, The Cenci. Saturday's defeat of England by the West Indies at The Oval, London, and with this the team's emergence as ICC champions, will do a lot for the Caribbean psyche in the immediate months and years ahead. For the victory represents not merely a return to the summit of international cricket, albeit one day internationals (ODIs), but it has come at a time when the region, battered both by hurricanes and advancing globalisation, needs the sort of psychological uplift that being at the head of the ICC class can provide. This does not mean that the social and economic problems that Caribbean people have been steeling themselves against will vanish, but there is at least the knowledge that the same crucial ingredients which made the Caribbean ICC champions for the first time since 1979 - resolve, team spirit and a disciplined approach - can be employed in the battles ahead to overcome those problems.

West Indies skipper, Brian Lara, holder of the world's highest score in Test cricket, led by example, supported by a team as determined as he, whether on the field or at the crease. Chris Gayle's opening 23; Shivnarine Chanderpaul's gallant 47; Courtenay Browne's 35 and Ian Bradshaw's 34 and his two strategically taken wickets of England captain, Michael Vaughan and opener, Volanki; Wavell Hinds' three (Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones) for 24; Lara's run out of Marcus Trescothick, and that of Dwayne Bravo's of Andrew Strauss, will make the rounds several times over of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and hurricane scarred Caribbean. The excitement which followed, particularly the victory march, which although limited in distance, reminded ever so much of Lord Kitchener's march around Lord's after the West Indies 1950 first ever Test triump there - Kitchener strumming a guitar and singing "Nora, Nora."

What is of the essence in a Caribbean victory over England in cricket, whether in a Test series or in ODIs, a factor ever so often embarrassingly nudged aside by the silly few, is that it means a lot to rank and file Caribbean people to defeat a country which was once their imperial overlord. In turn, cricket was a game invented in England, and winning against England has all the tones of the pupil doing better than the teacher. Only this time around, when the Brian Lara-led Caribbean cricketers defeated England in the ICC final, they came out on top of the world in ODI cricket. It had not been an easy start to the 21st century for Caribbean people.

For many of the region's states the around-the-corner end of preferential entry of sugar and bananas to the European Union meant the upcoming loss of thousands of jobs, and the spectre of a reduction in greatly needed foreign exchange earnings with which to pay for imports. The full implementation of the rules and regulations of the WTO will mean the eventual disappearance of tariff barriers which protected Caribbean industries, small manufactures and agriculture from cheaply produced foreign goods. It will mean, let me repeat, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Added to these negatives have been this year's hurricane season's Charley, Ivan and Jeanne.

Ivan, for example, destroyed 90 per cent of Grenada, brought damage to Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, the Bahamas and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as crippled francophone Haiti's second largest city of Gonaives along with other areas. I switch gears. The West Indies Cricket Board must make full use of available technology along with counselling sessions for players to ensure that Saturday's Caribbean triumph in the ICC final does not become yesterday's news. It should seek to translate the winning of the ICC Champions Trophy into a launching pad for the return of Caribbean Test cricket to where it was in the 1970s and the 1980s, at the top of the world. This it owes to Caribbean people, particularly the young as well as those hurt by the recent hurricane damage and those who will be by the steadily growing onslaught of globalisation and clearly are in need of a psychological uplift.

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