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Hans again!/ A West Indian win!

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I must first of all use my column to respond to Hans King’s article of last week which I believe was carried in all of the weekend papers. I am focusing on only one particular paragraph in an effort to clarify and categorically deny a matter raised. King referred to Ralph Gonsalves’ contribution to the parliamentary debate on the repeal of the 1971 Public Officers Conditions of Employment Act.{{more}} He lists what he claims were examples of the NDP’s attempts to silence the goodly doctor. For his third example he purports to quote from Dr. Gonsalves and had the following to say: “The banning of Ralph to lecture or tutor public servants (including persons like Godfred Pompey, Claudia White and Alma Dougan) at the UWI Centre in respect of university courses delivered at the Centre and paid for by the Government. Ralph Gonsalves delivered unofficial classes to the public servants, for free, on Saturdays and Sundays. These were courses which Ralph had taught at the University of the West Indies.”

Now this country really has more mad people than many of us imagine, for this is a dirty lie. Is the implication here that the NDP Government at that time dictated who should teach courses at the then School of Continuing Studies? Is the suggestion here that Governments have a say in who teaches courses at the University Centre? Is this an attempt to implicate me? This is totally absurd, for no government has the right to tell us or has attempted to tell us whom we should select to teach courses. I am certainly not aware that Dr. Gonsalves has ever applied to teach any of our courses or had even expressed an interest in doing so. What I know for sure is that Keith Joseph who taught the only Political Science course that was offered had on occasions invited Dr. Gonsalves as a guest lecture to some of his classes. I had also been issued such an invitation on at least two occasions. I need to go further and state that no applicants to teach any of our courses have ever been asked or will ever be asked about their political preferences. It is not our business. In any event, why should someone’s political preference be a factor in the selection for teaching at such an institution? For this to have been mentioned and to have been cited as an example of interference by the NDP is really a laughing matter and is a product of the ‘Silly Season’. What bothers me is the fact that it has been mentioned at all. I have not had a chance to check the Hansard to verify the quotation, but I will repeat that it is a lie and is not the way we function. If this is an attempt to implicate me in the nonsense that is taking place then they have the wrong person. I say all of this without fear of contradiction. Having said all of this I must point out, too, that this article was not written by Hans. I am quite familiar with his style of writing and know without a shadow of doubt that he was not the author of this piece that carried his name. When will Hans grow up? Will the real King please stand up!

Cricket at Arnos Vale

It was really good to see the kind of turnout we had at cricket at Arnos Vale on Sunday, and this was despite the fact that the series had already been decided and that we were playing against a team that is not in the top league. It reminded me of the good not so old days when a full house was almost guaranteed. Something has happened since then, for we are now unable to attract top matches. Instead we seem to have been relegated to hosting the weaker teams. Last time around it was Bangladesh. For the World Cup we were only able to host practice games. We are not even in the line up for South Africa. Is there a problem that has caused the reduction of our status? Arnos Vale is still one of the most attractive cricket grounds in the region and Vincentians as they have demonstrated in the past and on Sunday will turn out to watch their cricket. So what is the problem? There has got to be one.

Now about the West Indies team! Despite winning the series four games to one, for the most part we made heavy weather doing so. Our batting remains quite fragile, as we continued to demonstrate our weakness against spin bowling. I would not even say good spin bowling, despite Price’s reputation. The team appears to depend quite a lot on a good batting performance by Captain Chris Gayle. Although starting slowly on Sunday, he played a magnificent innings, hitting 63 off 41 balls that included a grand six that went merrily over one of the pavilions, falling on to the street outside. Everyone appeared puzzled by the elevation of Danesh Ramdin to the No. 4 position in the batting line up despite having been dropped for underperforming with the bat. Otis Gibson’s explanation that they were trying to rotate and to experiment with the left -right batting combinations made little sense. Ramdin continues to be a puzzle. He entered Test cricket amidst talk that he could be the next West Indian captain. He has certainly shown promise with the bat but has been a regular underperformer and needs to get some serious competition to bring out the best in him. Maybe here is a chance for our local boy to show his mettle.

Our batsmen, with the exception of Chanderpaul and perhaps Gayle, still seem unable to put the ball into the gaps and get the scoreboard moving. They still depend on heavy hitting and in the process put themselves under pressure and losing their wickets. They have had in most of the games to chase low scores, and really made heavy weather doing so. Gayle’s departure on Sunday after his classic innings nearly led to an embarrassing collapse that was stopped by a brief cameo venture by Keiron Pollard who in 8 balls hit 2 fours and 2 sixes. That we won Zimbabwe is true but Gayle’s comment that a win is a win is typical Gaylese. Admittedly we are near the bottom of the International Cricketing ladder, but we still harbour ambitions of moving up. Without the injuries in Australia we might have forced the cricketing world to look at us again. That is why we needed not only to have won Zimbabwe but to have done that in convincing style. I note that Adrian Barath has gone to the IPL. I worry about him. He is a natural stroke player but not a 20-20 man. We need to take our young players in hand and provide them with the mentoring that is needed. There are in fact a number of other youngsters around that have to be taken in hand if we are to ensure a future for West Indian cricket.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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