Cricket is thought of as boring and pointless by many who never grew up with the sport – and I have many foreign friends who question my obsession – but in the British West Indies, it’s in our blood. We love all forms of the sport with a passion nevermind the current West Indian team sucks – yeah we admit that too!
I remember in my youth on a Sunday afternoon putting two big buckets in the street as wickets and playing with the boys, making cars wait to pass (clearly in those days there were less cars hence less traffic and less cuss for playing cricket in the street).
Over the years, I’ve been to cricket in countries like England, Australia, Singapore, Canada, the US and even got chicken pox at World Cup Cricket 2011 in India, but there is nowhere the sport can be more of a party than right here in the Caribbean. Let me be more specific…there is nowhere the sport can be more Carnival like than in Trinidad at the Queens Park Oval, the largest cricket ground in the entire Caribbean.
During a West Indies-England match in Chennai in 2011, there was a local Chennaite man in his late 60s sitting behind us. He struck up a conversation about the West Indian team and out of nowhere whipped out photos of his one time visiting the Queens Park Oval in the 80s. I remember how shocked I was learning he came to that match hoping to meet some Trinis and relive that single visit of his. He felt like the luckiest man meeting us – three Trinis – beaming with pride and telling us of his knowledge of West Indian cricket whilst I stared at each photo amazed at what was once the old Queens Park Oval. Wow I was a kid when these photos were taken! I had never gone as a kid.
Every time I’ve gone to the Oval since that chance meeting in India, I am reminded of him and how much it has changed.
This year at Caribbean Premier League (CPL) cricket was no different. I remember his words “you Trinis know how to party, you are welcoming, warm and know how to celebrate the sport, you live it!”
And he is right. With a country backing the T&T Red Steel team, I am reminded how much cricket is the heart and soul of Trini people. We like our football too but this is cricket time.
Partying and liming is in our blood too! Considering we host one of the biggest Carnivals in the world, it’s no wonder CPL T20 cricket is full of limes and a Carnival like atmosphere – win, lose or draw we party.
Trini Posse Stand at the Queens Park Oval has the reputation of “the party stand” complete with a DJ blasting out a mix of soca, chutney, reggae and pop loud enough to echo through the grounds and entertain the entire Oval.
The other stands are just as packed, with tassa and a rhythm section playing live music, cheerleaders of both teams on their podium, a Carnival crew of traditional and pretty masqueraders and the mascot of CPL roaming around.
I sat there this weekend in the all inclusive Trini Posse Stand and admired my people.
For a little island they wear their national colours proudly, become one, make random friends talking to people they don’t even know and will never see again, eat together, drink together, dance together to celebrate each six or four Bravo makes, each wicket the Red Steel takes, they share, take a wine on a random person in between, harass each other too with colloquial remarks, argue over what the batsman, fielder or bowler should of done, join forces to cuss the team and let them know when they are playing poorly. Yes my people celebrate their cricket and make it one big party at the always sold out Oval.
The party will continue after the match too, no matter how drunk one gets. But at the end of the day, they will return the next day to fully support their team – win, lose or draw – my Indian friend’s words ring true…Trinis know how to celebrate the sport, they live it and celebrate it with one damn unforgettable party! As local soca star Machel Montano sings “the vybes cyah done!”
Makes me proud to be a Trini and to be home to part take in the melee!