Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Leave the Caribbean and Play Better Cricket

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Leave the Caribbean and Play Better Cricket

Article excerpt

I have been trapped on my settee apart from the odd sortie into the light of day. Curtains drawn, essentials at the ready. I have been concentrating on Test cricket wherever possible. My satellite system has allowed me to be physically in England while my head and my heart have been in Sri Lanka, Guyana and Trinidad.

English cricket is experiencing a mild revival. The sports commentators have translated this as an all-embracing renaissance. Before the series that England have just won, Sri Lanka suffered a severe drubbing in South Africa. The series was very close; Sri Lanka held their own.

Moreover, Sri Lankan society seems to have lost its post-independence innocence. The people have had to resist the giant blast of Tamil terrorism. They are a tough bunch, knit together in adversity. Now that they can see some light at the end of the tunnel, their batsmen, young and adventurous, play as fine a game as any. I can sum up England in a short volley of words. They are still trapped in a welfare state of mind, preferring the safety net. There is no sign of the golden years, only solid, "steady as she goes" mediocrity. There is no evidence of adventure, of extraordinary leaps into the dark. We shall see how they perform when the Pakistanis and Australians come over this summer.

The South Africans are in the Caribbean and, after a few years at the bottom of the pile, the West Indians are just about managing to raise their heads above the parapet. Their societies are coated in corruption and violence. Their social life has been reduced to extreme vulgarity. Their social and political leaders have their snouts in the trough in ways that are almost unimaginable.

My nephew is here on a visit from Trinidad. He is in his mid-twenties and hails from the urban ghetto. He tells tales of woe, of bloodthirsty young men and women who then appeal to Allah for forgiveness. Fundamentalist Islam is the only prominent intellectual activity among the urban young, peppered with heavy doses of American TV. …

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