INESTIMABLE PLEASURES SHORT OF BRAINS On Saturday, April 2, with an awe-inspiring and emotional outpouring of love and respect, this nation bade a grand farewell to one of its most illustrious sons. Winston Blake (‘The Merritone Music Maestro’) was not universally embraced for his connections with or contribution to Sport. However, with his undying love for his alma mater, Kingston College – a virtual hotbed for the games that teenagers play – he was a fixture at the National Stadium and before that, Sabina Park, during Champs week. Without fuss or fanfare, his unsolicited support took many young athletes over the hump. Politicians from both sides of the divide, by their presence, typified the life of the man whose earthly journey they had huddled together to celebrate. He will be sorely missed. Foster’s Fairplay wishes that he be granted eternal rest. English Cricket commentator and former County of Hampshire player, Mark Nicholas, has referred to the West Indies T20 team as “short of brains”. The remark came during the build-up to the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup in that format of the game. Nicholas is described by the popular cricket website, espncricinfo, as “almost a throwback to the era of amateurs”. Anyone familiar with that period in English cricket, where there was a clear, social demarcation between two sets of cricketers, is wont to draw a single conclusion. Amateurs were referred to as gentlemen and those who looked to the game for their living were given the nomenclature of players. Given all that, the “no brains” label, coming from a white Englishman, must be seen as manifestly racist. That skipper Darren Sammy, mindful of, but not allowing the tag to disrupt his flow, could have led his team to a sound thrashing of the English, was a masterstroke. The clobbering, straight on the heels of a similar beating of the Aussies by our ladies, was a ”take that” response in the face of those who consider themselves to be ahead in quality of on-field performance. With those two title-winning victories and the still savoured under-19 triumph, the way forward is being charted by the loyal fans of the sport. They have stuck with a team whose fortunes have plummeted to rock bottom. Once ruling the roost in what is still considered to be the real cricket, they had been swept aside by teams who prepared, while the perennial high rankers remained complacent and perhaps, over-celebrated. It is quite understandable that this string of victories in a ‘slam bam, thank you, ma’am format’ has elicited shouts of “We are back”. Foster’s Fairplay urges caution. No one with a straight face can deny that there are inestimable pleasures to be derived from the shortest version of the game. The ending to the final provides stark evidence. In attacking an achievable target, the West Indies innings had fallen into serious disrepair. The strategy crafted by the ‘out of touch’ and in some quarters ‘out of favour’ Marlon Samuels was sheer brilliance. He curbed his well-known flair and ferocity to set up the Carlos Brathwaite explosion. It was the grand finale, all West Indians loyal to the cause could conceivably have wanted. It had all the ingredients of a Hollywood thriller. All that said, West Indies cricket has impacted and ruled the world from the springboard of Test cricket. That and only that must be the focal point in any perceived initiative to turn that never-ending corner. The treasures of watching and appreciating the grace, elegance and charm of a Lawrence Rowe, the ability to bludgeon into surrender a savage attack as Sir Vivian Richards afforded us, are no longer. Need one to further illustrate the point; go back to the mastery of a Sir Garfield Sobers or the finesse of the great Rohan Kanhai. Set in what is now being challenged – a five-day match – like it or not, together with fierce fast bowlers, the West Indies grabbed and held on to the number one spot for close to two decades. To this place all heads must be pointed if the call of “we are back” is to be countenanced. Go for it, West Indies!
28 June 2010 “There is not a single part of this World Cup where we have not been able to go beyond the level of past World Cups,” Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke said at the halfway mark of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™. “South Africa will become the ‘plan B’ of any future World Cup.” Addressing a media briefing at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Saturday, Valcke was full of praise for the tournament’s organisation. “We are beyond all expectations. We are beyond international visitor figures and we are beyond ticketing sales of Germany 2006. If on 11 July we are at the same level as today, I would say it’s a perfect World Cup.” Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan said South Africa was 50 percent through the tournament, “but we have 100 percent achieved our objectives to demonstrate a country that has the capability to deliver this event.” Jordaan said the World Cup has been an important event for South Africans and visitors alike. “It has been a journey of discovery and rediscovery not only for the visitors but for our people as well. Many South Africans have discovered a new South Africa,” said Jordaan, who also reflected on the global party the World Cup has become. “We are the proud hosts of a wonderful event as people come together around the tournament and we see how people are celebrating Africa’s World Cup – not only in this country, but around the world in the Fan Fests in Japan, Germany, Brazil and many more. That is a joy for us to see.” A total of 2 284 796 people attended the 48 matches of the World Cup group stages inside the stadiums, at an average of 47 600 people per game. A further 1 489 525 people visited the FIFA Fan Fests in South Africa and 1 439 711 the international Fan Fests being held in six cities around the world. Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee
A 12-hour shutdown against life imprisonment awarded to 10 extremists in the October 2008 serial blasts case affected normal life across Assam on Thursday and fuelled demands for a separate Bodoland State.A special CBI court had on Wednesday handed life sentences to Ranjan Daimari, chairman of National Democratic Front of Boroland, and nine others for the blasts that killed 88 and injured 540 persons. Four others were found to have served twice the five-year term prescribed for crimes they were found to have committed, while another was acquitted.The NDFB-R called the shutdown in protest against the verdict which it said was discriminatory since leaders of other extremist groups — especially the United Liberation Front of Asom allegedly catering to Assamese sentiments — were let off after committing similar crimes in view of the peace talks.Transport disruptionThe People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland supported the shutdown whose impact was felt most in four western and north-central districts governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council. The disruption of rail and road transport affected other parts since Kokrajhar, one of these four districts, links Assam to the rest of the country.“We are not happy with the judgment, which was biased and partial. It may derail the peace process [with the NDFB-R and the NDFB-Progressive, a faction led by Gobinda Basumatary]… The efforts will go waste if Bodo organisations renew their demand for dividing Assam,” PJACB leader Gorjon Mushahary said.The demand for Bodoland started in 1967. It morphed into an armed conflict in 1986 after the formation of the Bodo Security Force, which was renamed the NDFB in 1994. It split more than a decade later.Soon after the verdict on Wednesday, shops and business establishments closed in Udalguri district, the stronghold of the NDFB-R.