The Bystander – Thoughts On Cricket, West Indies Team And Brian Lara

I am not a cricket fan

There. I said it and now the whole world knows it. Maybe that’s a good thing right now. Maybe an impartial observer, or better yet, a bystander like me, can take a look in from the outside and offer one or two thoughts on the game, the W.I. team and Lara.

Over the last few days (weeks maybe?) I couldn’t help but get a little caught up in the game, after all, it’s taking place in my backyard. Of course, my attention was only switched ‘on’ whenever any of the games involved the West Indies. Figures, huh? I can hear you now: “The Bystander is a ‘fair weather’ friend: When all is rosy, The Bystander is your best friend, pals for life even!” No, that’s not true. Even when the West Indies are (or were) winning, I was never a keen follower of the team, nor the sport. Heck, I barely know the names of the players.

Today Was Different

During the course of the day, I listened to the radio, I checked the latest scores online and I was a little happy, no, I was excited to learn that the W.I. had scored 300 runs (forgive me, for I am not well versed in the language of the game.) I can’t remember the last time the W.I. had ever managed to achieve that amount, or something even close to it. Excellent, I thought, the team has finally remembered how to play the game and what a game it was today! I sat at home later on in the evening, glued to the television, watching the last remaining moments of an amazing match.

Remember, I am not a cricket lover, so for me to sit in front of the telly watching the game, it must be worth watching! And today I couldn’t help but watch and hope the hope that the W.I. would defeat England at the famous Oval. But in the end, it simply was not meant to be. My heart sank a little and I felt sad as a result of their loss at the hands of England, who in the end, had barely won by 1 run and 1 wicket (again, forgive me if my cricket terms are a bit off.)

But something else happened today. For on this day, the W.I. team fought valiantly (in my humble opinion.) Knowing fully well that they weren’t going to make it any further, those boys went out there like warriors and fought the good fight. It is a strange feeling, being proud of a team I know little about. Strange that I’ve never been to the Oval, the old or the new.

As for Lara, what can a non-cricket fan say?

I used to think that although he was without a doubt, one of the best and most talented the game had ever seen, that he was not made of ‘captain material.’ Whenever I read about him (especially the Hollywood-like celebrity life he enjoyed) he never struck me as an indvidiual who could lead the W.I. team to victory or even consistently decent play. Strange then how I felt bad for Lara when I read that he got knocked out of the game so early and how the West Indies, his team, lost in the end today. I felt bad for Lara. Sportsmen like him, like to go out with a bang when it’s their last game. Lara may not have been able to do that today, but the team sure went out swinging and fighting. I can only hope that he is proud of them today and that they are all proud of each other.

Well done, West Indies (and Lara) well done.

Read the original article and much more at The Bystander 


Filed under Barbados, Cricket

17 responses to “The Bystander – Thoughts On Cricket, West Indies Team And Brian Lara

  1. Rumplestilskin

    I too have felt for a long time like you, re Lara’s batting genius which from the ‘outside view’ did not transfer to his captaincy, which is in itself not a bad reflection on him, some are leaders in a particular genre and some not.

    Not to dwell too much on negatives, but any shortcomings of the team over the last numbers of years, even if he was partially to blame, can in no way be laid at his feet alone.

    The Board and its antics on player contracts, management’s allegedly weak line on discipline, poor and inconsistent selection policy which has sidelined and omitted players who actually have deserved a chance and last but not least, apparent less than required committment from some of the players themselves.

    A leader can guide and mould, but the players need to be ‘guidable’ and ‘moldable’ and themselves have desire. Look at the ‘proof in the pudding’ scoreboards and you will see the same names performing again and again while others do not. What does that say?

    Enough of that.

    As for today, it was exciting and no shame to have lost. England, despite its own struggles, fought well also.

    It would be wonderful if what we saw is indicative of the way the future will be i.e. the plays of the match, while contributed in a major way by such ‘gutsy’ old timers as Gayle and the older but effective Nixon for England, depicted the younger players in a good light.

    Such as Devon Smith, while inexperienced, showed fortitude and fought for his 61. Pietersen’s century for England highlighted capability and determination under adversity and last but not least and certainly a meaningful contribution, young Stuart Broad in only his sixth one-day showing that he has the guts and nerves to have ‘courage under fire’, thus guiding England to victory England at the last.

    So, while the cloud of both teams ending their CWC campaigns might have lended to join with the occasion of Lara’s retirement to give an air of sadness, the silver lining appeared in the performances of both teams youngsters, which gives some hope for the future.

    And sets the stage for the upcoming series in England.

  2. Rumplestilskin

    By the way, I could not leave the above written without mentioning the other young player who made the match exciting and ‘almost’ turned the tide fully, that performance of Dwayne Bravo, himself an example of eagerness and determination.

    This is the type of material that champions are made of.

  3. John


    An absolutely fantastic game of cricket …… and Bravo did show all of the qualities you say …… but I would add that he showed one more ……. and that was love for what he was doing.

    That was what the West Indies of old had above all other things, … love of the game and what they were doing!!

    Yes Lara is a batting genius, and yes his captaincy skills are off, and yes there are other factors contributing to the decline of West Indies cricket.

    But I think the single factor which contributed and contributes to the decline, and which could overcome all the others was and is love for the game.

    Strategy, tactics, training, management etc are all important but it is impossible to fight an opponent who can pull surprises out of the bag at will, and these surprises come from being at peace with yourself and at one with the game.

    Australia, SA and NZ are machines, well oiled, well drilled and seemingly undefeatable, … and yet, a machine will fail when confronted with something it isn’t programmed to deal with.

    Sri Lanka has what we lost when we became more developed, an unquenchable spirit and a love for the game.

    Just watch Murali’s face when he bowls or bats. It is magic. It says more about the man and the game than all the theorising of tacticians and strategists can ever say.

    These finals will be all about the machine vs the man. I really hope Sri Lanka throws a spanner in the works of the machines, for it is time cricket became once again the fire to light the spirit we once possessed.

    Remember, the Jamaican bob sled beat the highly designed sled of the Americans once upon a time!! …. and it wasn’t the sleds that are remembered.

  4. You're Fired!

    Lara woulda still be dey, had he not been saddled with Captaincy Crap(just because he was star batsman).
    How star batsman status automatically endows someone with Managerial Skills is beyond me, but that’s how we think in these West Indies.

    BUT wunnuh made star boy into a Capt., and so his head was full of all kinds stress when he went out to bat, instead of being entirely free of everything except how to apply willow to leather, to achieve trajectory onto nearby rooftops outside the stadium.

    And so the golden batting goose was killed by mixing up batting skills with managerial ones.
    Senseless waste of resources based on assumptions of other resources.

  5. Rumplestilskin

    You both make valid points. Passion for the game is indeed the ‘foundation’ upon which it all lies.

    As for Lara and captaincy, I fully agree that the expectations on Lara were not reasonable. Some have it and some do not. Simple.

    After the first occasion, we should have looked for another captain even after Chanders also was unable to ‘do the job’. But instead, sentimentality and glamour overcame rational thought.

    Ah well. Now the time has come to move on and I hope that the Board and management really ‘move on’ and leave old habits behind.

  6. BK

    I agree that Lara is a great batsman but a poor captain. Maybe it is time to rebuild without him.

  7. Justasking

    Making your best batsman your captain without knowing if he has the necesary leadership and other skills is like a business making its top salesman sales manager without knowing if he had the requisite management, leadership and other skills.

    If the person is not suited to the position you lose your best batsman/salesman and haver a poor captain/sales manager.

  8. samizdat

    Sorry to be rude, but this article strikes me as being really lame, and not up to BFP’s usual standards. Reminds me of the kind of inconsequential personal-opinion columns you find nearly every day in The Advocate…

  9. Hello Samizdat,

    It was I that wrote the article. For the record, I never intended for it to be held in the same high regard as most BFP stories. It was, as you said, simply a bit of ‘inconsequential personal-opinion.’ Opinions which I am entitled to have and to share at will, with those who choose to read it, including yourself and opinions which I knew fully well could be targeted for positive/negative feedback. Negative in your case, but feedback nonetheless.

    BFP may have also published it because it might’ve been a slow day in the ‘newsroom’ and they needed something to display on the front page.

    I know I submitted it because I thought it might be interesting for them and their readers to see (or read) what a non-cricket fan had to say on the game, the team and Lara, as a result of Saturday’s match.

    It was not intended to provide any in-depth analysis or to be used as a ‘manifesto’ of sorts on how we should move forward with the game or the players.

    Your inconsequential, lame friend,
    The Bystander.

  10. samizdat

    Ah, sorry man. You make me feel bad now.

    I take back what I said. It was unnecessarily harsh and too critical.


  11. Hi samizdat,

    Don’t study it. At the end of the day, whoever publishes an article anywhere (BFP, The Nation, The Advocate, NYT, etc.) should always be prepared for feedback, positive or negative. The debate and the discussion that follows is important.

  12. Warrior

    You’re Fired!
    April 22nd, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Lara woulda still be dey, had he not been saddled with Captaincy Crap(just because he was star batsman). How star batsman status automatically endows someone with Managerial Skills is beyond me, but that’s how we think in these West Indies.
    You’re fired, you have spoken a true word.

    But here is an interesting theory and its just a supposition.

    Suppose Lara was offered some fine dollars to resign, just for a few years, and just so that people would fill Kensington stands (of course ppl would want to see the Prince bat for the last) – I put nothing past Barney Lynch and OSArthur to make sure that CWC ’07 appear to be successful.
    Suppose he is only to “resign” for a couple years, or we suddenly hear that ” he resigned but we begged him to be part of the team for the England tour”

    Something does not add up with Lara’s story about picking himself for the England tour and the Chairman saying that no side had yet been picked.

    Mind you I have a wild imagination!

  13. ??

    Warrior wake up you are dreaming again!!!!!

  14. Warrior

    ??That’s true it was a dream induce by the sandman a.k.a Minister Noel Lynch, Owen Arthur and the LOC

  15. Rumplestilskin

    Warrior says: ”Something does not add up with Lara’s story about picking himself for the England tour and the Chairman saying that no side had yet been picked.”

    Interesting observation Dr.Watson. But, supposing the selectors changed their minds for one reason or another?

    Chairman may need to save face, without disclosing the reason for the change of mind, no?

    Some say that there is more to the pestle….

  16. Rumplestilskin

    Or rather, excuse me..more to the mortar than the pestle…

  17. Warrior

    Rumple:- There always is