Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents B9
Thursday, June 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
An hour into a stultifying morning of
Test cricket at the Oval, my girlfriend reluc-
tantly puts down her newspaper and
squints towards the pitch. Without her
glasses on I doubt she can see much.
I suspect it s the smell of bake and shark
coming from the back of the stand that s
caught her attention more than New
Zealand s opening partnership.
"I m not a big fan of cricket," she con-
fessed the day before.
"You don t have to be," I said. "Only 50
per cent of the experience is about the crick-
"Twenty-five per cent," she replied.
I assured her nobody would think any
less of her if she departs at the tea interval.
Besides, Germany and Portugal in the bar
at lunch will break the day up nicely.
She goes to buy brunch and narrowly
avoids singeing her eyebrows when the cook
tosses a batch of fries into a hot vat of oil
and a fireball whooshes into the air.
Food inspectors pass by, apparently
unconcerned about the fire regulations.
"Shouldn t this garlic sauce be on ice?"
they ask the vendor.
"It has no mayonnaise in it," he says.
And they wander off, satisfied.
Pot-bellied men go back to their pock-
This is the level of mundane details that
passes for excitement on a slow cricket day.
The morning is overcast and the breeze blowing over
the houses and gardens of Elizabeth Street into the
ground passes delightfully down the backs of our
I hope it doesn t rain, like it did, torrentially, the
first time I visited the Oval. That ODI was an alto-
gether different experience. There was mayhem in
the crammed Trini Posse stand.
Here, only a handful of supporters have clustered
into one stand while the rest of the ground is empty.
The scheduling is odd. It s a Monday, the World
Cup has just started and the rainy season has just
begun. But it s more than that. The Caribbean has
bred a generation uninterested in cricket. Football is
It doesn t help that the Windies are dreadful.
Several dropped catches against New Zealand provoke
the frustrated fans ire further.
"They pick Gabriel for pace...but you tink he can
take a wicket?" "Benn doh spin de ball. He just
Midway through the afternoon session we return
from watching the Portuguese humbled 4--0 in Bahia.
Tom Latham is still at the crease. I turn to the
man behind to ask what he s on. When I turn back,
Latham is immediately caught at gully for 82.
"You blight de man!" our neighbour cries.
Perhaps I ought to try a few more harmless stats
A man with an entirely expressionless face peers
at his copy of the Guardian. He turns to a story I
wrote about a Benedictine monk making techno
"Let s see how much of it he reads!" we giggle,
spying on him over his shoulder, but he doesn t get
past a few paragraphs.
"Oh look, he turned. He got bored," she says, highly
We ask a policeman to take our picture. He looks
happy with his work but when he hands back the
camera, we see his photography skills are appalling.
A cute little Indian toddler is fed curry by her
doting parents. A rasta pelts bags of peanuts into the
crowd. A customer pelts back a crumpled $5 bill but
the wind whips it towards the boundary rope, to the
amusement of the spectators. New Zealand s subs
ensconce themselves in a mini marquee in front of
the pavilion. A groundsman starts up his motorised
roller and rolls away towards the nets.
Leaves rustle in the elegantly shaped tree beside
the electronic scoreboard. A young boy changes the
numbers on the old manual scoreboard. Old habits
"Cold beers! Allyuh take some ting!" is the aggres-
sive marketing strategy of the beer vendor.
Shadows lengthen on the pitch. Wickets begin to
fall and the crowd livens up, desperate to see West
Indies bat before the close of play. But my girlfriend
has had enough and gets a lift home with her mum.
With half an hour left Chris Gayle comes in to
open. He fiddles with his gloves, leaves a few out-
swingers, barely moving his tree-trunk legs. Then,
on the 11th ball, his off stump is uprooted and a col-
lective groan goes up.
Back home, my mates are watching Sky Sports 3.
The camera zooms in on me shaking my head in
disbelief. They post a screenshot online and we laugh
from across the Atlantic. It s a classic example of the
global village perpetually connected thousands of
Modern times and technology have created shorter
attention spans. Now, 20 overs of walloping is enough
for most. But not for me. Give me stultifying any
Chip pan fire in Babylon
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