A Test match for history | Sunday Observer

A Test match for history

‘SLIGHT RAIN FALLING – TOSS DELAYED. That was the dismal blurb that kept flashing and greeting cricket fans on STAR TV telecasts when they switched on to watch the First of Three Test matches between England and West Indies in Southampton on Wednesday.

This is not and will it be the first or the last time that cricket fans are going to be greeted with this dismal blurb. Throughout cricket history in England that gave the game to the world, rain and bad light spoiling Tests are like a homily.

The delay would sure have disappointed and frustrated cricket fans considering that they had not watched and soaked in a live cricket match for over five months owing to the dreaded Covid-19 that hit the batsmen like a blinding and life threatening delivery bowled by England’s Harold Larwood during the famous ‘bodyline’ series.

Before going on to comment on the Test, one and all must thank England and the West Indies and appreciate and applaud their courage and fearlessness for volunteering to kick the cursed Covid-19 and play the game, because the game’s the thing.

Having written about cricket for over 50 years never has the game been ravaged as in these times. This’ll be recorded as one of the saddest parts of the game of cricket, and indeed for all types of sports in the world.

It’s unimaginable that the Test had to be played devoid of spectators who generally flock to watch the game and make one big din cheering their heroes and their deeds on the field in England, Australia, India and Pakistan. To use a hackneyed phrase the action was like a ‘carnival without lights’.

Also the act by the cricketers to knee in support of Black American George Floyd who was killed by a senseless white cop with black gloves and expressing their support for ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ must be written in letters of gold in cricket’s history books for posterity.

After a long lull there were no neutral umpires, third umpire and match referee. Instead all were from the home country umpires Richard Kettleboroug ad Richard Illingworth. Match referee and the third umpire referrals had been increased to three instead of the usual two for each side.

Even the TV Commentators were maintaining their social distancing in the box and describing the happening out in the middle. There was Rob Key, Nick Knight, Michael Holding, Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and a fair sex cricket commentator.

Watching the game on SONY 6 it was a poignant and an emotional moment to watch a ground staffer with his pet dog which to all appearance was a Beagle perched on his master’s lap watching the action in the middle as though he was a keen cricket fan! It was a nice picture and a big thank you to the alert TV cameraman.

To quote Cricinfo – ‘Players of both teams and match officials united in a poignant gesture to support the ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ matter movement before play on the first day. The players, support staff and umpires all took a knee on the field with each member of the West Indies wearing a black glove on his right hand, which they raised in a fist while kneeling.

Rody Estwick, West Indies assistant coach, said at the close of play that he had wanted to make a statement. “For me it was a good feeling because we have to make a change,” Eastwick said. “For us it’s all about equality, it’s all about honesty, it’s all about treating everybody equal and for us that was very, very important.

“Fortunately enough we were able to make a statement so we were happy as a group to do it and I thought it was really wonderful to see England supporting us as well.”

While the gloves were reminiscent of the ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ the logo worn by both teams on their shirts, in which the A in black is replaced by a clenched fist. And of the black power salute by athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics.

As for the Test the Windies playing the better cricket and led admirably by Jason Holder slapped a 4-wicket defeat on England inside four days. England must be licking their wounds.

Weekes is no more

When former West Indian power blaster Everton Weekes the right handed marauder with the bat celebrated his 95th birthday a couple of months back we wished him well and wished him to bat for another five years and reach a century, that he so very often did with bat in hand for the West Indies.

But the saying ‘Man proposes, God disposes’ rang true for Weekes who suddenly passed away, thus ending the names of the three Ws – WORRELL, WALCOTT and WEEKES from the game who mauled bowlers with bat in hand using them like swords in the late 1948s and early 1950s.

Weekes played here in 1948. A little known fact why he was named Everton was because his father was a great supporter of EVERTON FC the football club in England. And apparently another fact that no Sri Lankan knew was that Weekes’ son David Murray toured here with Alvin Kallicharan’s side as wicket keeper in the 1970s. Murray later joined the West Indian rebel tour to South Africa under Lawrence Rowe and was lost to cricket.

That was the game at the SSC when ‘black fire ball’ Malcom Marshall making his debut for the West Indies struck Sri Lankan opener Sunil Wettimuny on the head with a life threatening bouncer. Poor Marshall is no more.

May the turf lie softly on Everton Weekes the Black Magician alongside his two batting buddies Worrell and Weekes who will not be forgotten, but remembered till the end of the world.

(Read more about Weekes on ‘SPORTS LEGEND’ on Friday in the ‘Daily News)

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