Two Blokes, Two Audacious Strokes

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published April 27, 2015

Jason Holder celebrates his maiden first-class and Test century.

Jason Holder (right) celebrates his maiden first-class and Test century. Kemar Roach (left) looks to the scoreboard.

On my way to work, mom called, “Dad’s sick”, she muttered hesitantly. Without hesitation, I u-turned the car on the highway, 25 miles away and headed home. West Indies were staggering at 189 runs for 6 wickets, still 249 runs away from victory, and over 50 overs away from a draw. Jason Holder picked up his bat, twisted and turned his hips, and headed out to the middle.

Unbeknownst to my mom, what I feared based on her detailed descriptions, and what I eventually saw when I got home, surmised that my dad was having a stroke, also known as a brain attack. Similarly, Jason Holder must have wondered or feared his colleagues had a brain attack (stroke) based on their rash shots that saw West Indies stumble and limp to this predicament.

I placed my dad in my car, buckled my seatbelt, and with composed driving ranging between 90-125 mph (145-200 kph), I wailed through the traffic like an ambulance to the hospital, which was 30 miles away. In a similar manner, Jason Holder placed West Indies on his back, buckled down, and with composed batting like Brian Lara’s 153 at Bridgetown in 1999, attempted to bring the infirm West Indies through the maze and to close of play. Continue reading

HILLIE’S SON: Swetes’ Ruthless Competitor

by Zaheer E. Clarke

Published April 20, 2015

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Curtly Ambrose being restrained by captain Richie Richardson after Steve Waugh experienced a “moment of madness” and swore at Ambrose during a Test match in 1995.

It’s a little past midnight and Hillie is up listening to her transistor radio with her bell nearby. Her neighbours in this small village, called Swetes, are fast asleep, unaware of the thunderous awakening they are about to receive. On the other hand, Hillie’s son is halfway around the world, at Perth, and is bitterly upset with his performance in the previous two hours before lunch. What transpired thereafter is described by many as “seventh heaven.”

Hillie’s boy, like an unrelenting torrent from the Swan river end, produced a deadly spell. He took seven wickets while conceding one run in this winner-takes-all finale against Australia in 1993. Seven times Hillie jumped for joy and rang her bell fanatically. Seven times Australia batsmen walked to the pavilion, bemused at how they returned so quickly. Seven times Hillie’s boy raised his hands, with index fingers to the sky, in celebration of another victim. Regrettably, the Perth curator and Hillie’s neighbours were also victims. The curator lost his job before tea, while Hillie’s neighbours lost their sleep before dawn, after her son, the executioner was finished. Continue reading

A Fine Balance between Hope and Reality

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published April 13, 2015

West Indies team celebrates victory during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup's final match between Sri Lanka and West Indies at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA

West Indies team celebrates victory during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup’s final match between Sri Lanka and West Indies at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA

A few hours after West Indies have been ousted from the Cricket World Cup at the quarter-final stage, I took a therapeutic shower for the mental wounds I’ve suffered during this World Cup and over the last 20 years. Void of logic and sanity, I found myself singing the West Indian anthem: “Rally, Rally round the West Indies, now and forever”. This is the bipolar condition of all West Indian fans during this time of extreme famine: an agonising balance between hope and reality.

Unlike us fans, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has realized that doing the identical steps repeatedly while expecting different results is indeed lunacy. Therefore, since last August the changes have been numerous, subtly glaring and swift. Continue reading