Política

Moda – A cricket lover’s view

 

Musing over the history of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club of Trinidad and Tobago, the words of Winston Churchill echoed in my ears, “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passions of former days.”

Recalling the initial days of the club, the celebrity writer CLR James (author of Beyond A Boundary) wrote, “They were for the most part white and often wealthy, and that a black man in the Queen’s Park was rare and usually anonymous.” But from there onwards, it became a nerve centre of cricket, not only in Trinidad but in the entire Caribbean.

The Queen’s Park Cricket Club is the most scenic cricket venue in the Caribbean which made a humble beginning in 1891. The club undertook the workmanship and in the course of time came up with a pictorial cricket park. It is one of the earliest established cricket stadia in the West Indies. The club brochure points out that it has capacity to accommodate nearly 20,000 cricket lovers. The club museum is the storehouse of the history of the West Indies cricket. In addition, the facilities include a club house, indoor and outdoor cricket nets, gym, squash and tennis courts.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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To augments its income, QPCC rents out its premises for football matches and even musical evenings.

QPCC came into international cricket reckoning when it hosted a match between the club and Lord Hawke’s touring English in 1891.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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The West Indies became a member of the elite Imperial Cricket Conference in 1926 and QPCC staged the first ever home Test series against England in 1930.

The stadium has staged various formats of international cricket like Tests, ODIs and the most recent innovation of Twenty20 cricket.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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With the bulk of the West Indies cricketers joining Kerry Packer’s radical bandwagon, it was the venue of the 1979 World Series Cricket match and subsequently staged a group at the ICC 2007 World Cup.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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It is the home of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel team of the Caribbean Premier League (Editor’s note: now called the Trinbago Knight Riders).

My “romance” with the Queen’s Park Cricket Club commenced on March 24, 1976 while covering the India-West Indies series for All India Radio.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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Since then, the venue has emotional appeal with this cricket-crazy commentator. It is a “Sanctum Sanctorum” of cricket, the scene of the cricketing deeds of the greats of the game.

March 24 started with a surprise meeting with CLR James on the breakfast table in the Queen’s Park Hotel.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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He had come with a BBC TV team for filming the events leading to the rise of the West Indies team. Later, I learnt about his varied contribution to the Caribbean from cricket writer Brunnell Jones in the press box.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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It was my instant admiration for this genial giant who espoused the cause of independence to break the shackles of colonialism.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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He shared his vision of a free Caribbean with the leading politicians of the region, Eric Williams and Cheddi Jagan.

During lunch time, I saw James in the press box (those days adjacent to the pavilion) involved in conversation with Jeff Stollmeyer who was then president of the West Indies Cricket Board.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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I recalled having seen Stollmeyer (vice captain of John Goddard’s 1948 India touring team at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi).

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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I walked in the press box I saw James surrounded by Brunnell Jones (who covered cricket for The Hindu daily of Madras) and sports editors – Rudy Ragbir (Trinidad Guardian), Bootins Alkins (The Trinidad Express) and Tony Becca (Jamaica’s Gleaner), sharing his views on how the game has transformed over the years.

The 1976 visit was rewarding on many counts.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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I found my long-lost brother in Ramcharitar Rickhi (secretary, West Indies Cricket Umpires Association, headed by ex-Test stalwart Gerry Gomez) and Jai Parasram from Trinidad television whose brother Sham was my contemporary in the Delhi University’s Zoology Department, Babooram Rambisoon (later came to India as a diplomat) who briefed me about security concerns in Jamaica) and two academics from the UWI – Profs.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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Syed Haq and Birla. My personal interaction with the local communities made me realise the exploitation, suffering and struggle they had to overcome before settling down.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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The amiable and open-hearted Caribbean people left a lasting impression on me. The warmth and hospitality of the people made Trinidad my second home.

My second Trinidad visit was a stopover on my way to Guyana as a member of the Indian Cultural delegation in 1988, followed by a similar sojourn in 1995 for the 150th anniversary of the Indian arrival in Trinidad.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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But on my fourth call at the port, in 2002, again as commentator, I saw a huge stadium compared to a small ground of 1976.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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It was a massive concrete structure, a mostly covered stadium with well-equipped modern gadgets and a media centre named after Gerry Gomez.

In the media centre, I met my old friends from the Caribbean cricket commentators community- the doyen among them Tony Cozier, “Reds” Perreira and David Lamy.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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Lamy later published my interview on the changing facets of cricket and nostalgia of my Caribbean visit in the Queen’s Park Club magazine, The Parkite.

My last Trinidad trip was in 2014 to collect information on the history of cricket commentary in the Caribbean.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

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By now, the stadium had stands named after illustrious cricketers like Learie Constantine, the Brian Lara Pavilion and a unique Trini Posse Stand whose members, with coloured clothing and their bands, provided another dimension to the ambience.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

The two ends of the ground now are the Pavilion End and Media Centre End which has been renamed the Willie Rodriguez End (after the former Trinidad Test player).

While coming to Piarco International airport for my homeward journey in 2014, my thoughts were engrossed on the past and the present of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club- a cricket monument of Trinidad.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

It reminded me of the lines of romantic English poet Shelley, “History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.”

 

• Prof Ravi Chaturvedi is a retired professor of Zoology at Delhi University, a pioneer Hindi cricket commentator, author of 23 cricket books, bestowed the national award of Padma Shri for popularising and providing

credibility to Hindi cricket commentary.

© Victor Gill Ramírez.

He has planned to celebrate his 80th birthday in Trinidad on June 27.

.

© Victor Gill.

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