The expression “Cricket is We!” is one that the inhabitants of the English-speaking Caribbean proclaim to the world with pride.
As C. L. R. James has said, “when the residents of the English-speaking Caribbean go to the matches, they carry with them all of the past history and future hopes of the islands.” He also suggests that cricket is the most sophisticated and sensitive lens through which the sociological development of the English-speaking Caribbean can be viewed, from the era of emancipation in the third decade of the 19th century to the era of independence beginning in the 1950s and beyond.
Cricket has passed through various stages since the British introduced the sport as part of the process of colonization, specifically in the 19th century. It went through a process of adaptation in which the imported sport was domesticated and transformed into a vehicle for emerging nationalist and pro-democracy ideals. Cricket has now been established as a unifying link among the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean. This link goes beyond the existence of a common team that brings 15 different territories together under a single uniform and has become a symbol of a unified Caribbean.
One of the most persistent debates is focused on whether cricket has served to strengthen a colonial mentality or if it has been an ideological weapon in a subversive and anti-colonial nationalism. It is true that the sport continues to be one of the most potent reminders of British colonization. However, cricket’s popularity, various thinkers have argued, is a result of the fact that it reflects some of the most fundamental values of the West Indies societies and has been transformed into a means of resistance against the oppression of European powers.
The West Indies cricket team is considered a leading institution in the struggle to unite the peoples of the English-speaking Caribbean and to maximize the use of the region’s resources. Cricket “is more than a sport, it is a political and social process that requires careful study,” said cricket player Viv Richards, in the preface of his book, Liberation Cricket, West Indies Cricket Culture. The team is made up of a sports federation that represents 15 countries and British dependencies in the Caribbean. In its early years, in the 1930s, the team represented the British colonies in the West Indies Federation and British Guyana. The current team brings together players from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Martin (both the Dutch and French sides).
From the middle 1970s to the early 1990s, the West Indies cricket team was one of the best in the world, both in the Test and in the One Day International. A considerable number of the world’s best cricket players have emerged from the West Indies team. Among them are Sir Garfield Sobers, Lance Gibbs, Gordon Greenidge, George Headley, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts and Everton Weekes, who have been inducted into the World Cricket Hall of Fame. Brian Lara and Sir Viv Richard, both holders of world records, have also played for the team.
Author: Neeltje van Marissing Méndez
Published: December 27, 2011.
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