Not just for sports fans

A couple years ago I subscribed to a specialty Cricket TV channel, it did not take me long to realize how time consuming a cricket game is. When I was a kid growing up in St Kitts I was a big cricket fan. I played soccer with passion but because of the lack of local soccer heroes compared to Cricket, it was a lot easier to be a cricket fan.

In my teenage years there were some big cricket matches played in St Kitts. I still remember going to the grounds with great anticipation and sitting in the stands surrounded by equally passionate fans. Two matches I remember because of the participants was a Leeward Island match against Barbados when the ‘greater than life’ Gary Sobers came to St Kitts. He did not perform to his best but it was his presence that captured the imagination, much like a present day Singer/Athlete/Rock Star. Sobers wore his shirt with his collar up, his signature mark and he strutted must like President Obama but with a lot more head emphasis. The other match was against Australia, they made the game seem so easy with great batting technique.

There were also the local St Kitts heroes, Harris, Gilbert, Hector and Hicks come to mind. When they were playing you would follow each ball bowled. If you had to leave home you would try to follow a known route where there were radios along the way and ask for the score as you go by.

Most of the cricket news came to us via the radio and newspaper, but by the time the news paper coverage was printed the games had long finish. Still I would read and reread the commentary and score sheet not wanting to miss a single bit of information.

When the WI team played away from home, in England, Australia or India, it was really hard on me because I would get very little sleep as the games were played out of the local time zone. In the middle of the night I would sneak downstairs so not to wake anyone and listen to the radio broadcast for a couple of hours. I can still remember having some very nervous nail biting times when the WI team was in trouble.

When I left St Kitts, one on the hardest things I had to get use to was not having access to the live broadcast of cricket games. I would scour the local news media IN Toronto for cricket information without success. There was no Internet.

Back in the early 1970’s in Toronto you could travel around for days and not encounter another West Indian and when you did, cricket was the last thing you would want to talk about. There was a local Toronto Caribbean focused newspaper that covered cricket news from the Caribbean but the reports would be weeks old. This was a period of great cricketers in the Caribbean. After a while I lost interest.

A couple months ago I became discouraged with the Specialty TV cricket station coverage of the WI cricket and cancelled it, then I re-subscribed for the South African Tour but spent very little time looking at it. The current WI team is pretty disappointing. So yesterday it was raining and I tuned in to look at the Caribbean T20 tournament. I was again disappointed as they were showing Sri Lanka vs. India replays.

I am done; I think I will live with my memories on ‘da couch’.

 I played multiple sports in Grammar School, football and cricket mainly. I was not exceptionally good at cricket, mostly because of the fear of being hit by the ball. Maybe I was better than I can remember; I can be pretty hard on myself sometimes. Getting hit by a cricket ball can be quite painful. I have lots of proof.

As a cricketer, I focused mostly on bowling, didn’t have a problem hitting other people although I can’t recall hurting anyone.

The school team would practise after school and I would spend most of my time bowling or fielding. When it was my time to practise batting I would find some excuse to avoid doing it. I perfected the art of dodging batting practise.

We played in the St Kitts Cricket League against older men and had fairly good results, although we did not win any championships; ‘It’s the effort that counts’, said the losing team coach; I have actually said that many times to my sons who played competitive soccer. When you are competitive as I was, losing sucks; my kids are older now so I can say that and my grandkids can’t read as yet.

As a player there was a cricket game I particularly remembered fondly. It was Grammar School vs. Rivals Cricket Team (I can be corrected on the name; it was over 40 years ago). This team included 3 or 4 cricketers that played for St Kitts and the Leeward Islands. I recall Hector, Hicks and Benjamin, also very competent tall and lanky Musgrave played with them. The game was so intense, I don’t remember anyone else on their team that day; they may have played with only 4 players.

That day we won the toss and elected to bat first. With the likes of Hicks and Benjamin bowling I don’t think we stood much of a chance of making a big score. Hicks was a big man with lots of power and bowled very fast. Benjamin was not as fast but scary for me nonetheless.

You may recall I hated batting for the fear of being hit and with Hicks bowing I was hoping to be placed last on the score sheet. That way by the time I had to bat both fast bowlers would be tired. As we sat in the pavilion I positioned myself a few benches behind the rest of the guys, my thinking was; out of sight, out of mind.

I am totally serious.

Hicks was in a foul mood that day. Back in the 1960’s the batsmen helmet had not been invented. I can’t say for sure who, but two of our batsmen had to go to the hospital after been struck with the ball. I was moving further and further away from my team mates. At one point I considered sneaking out.

Eventually it was my turn to bad I could not hide any longer. Damn, I thought I was invisible.

Ok, I am Tony Carter, I am from Trafalgar and I don’t plan on having any kids. Now what’s the worst than can happen?

I put on my jock strap, my pads and strolled out to the pitch. Rustom the other batsman came to meet me and was giving me words of encouragement as we walked to my funeral. It is amazing how you turn to Prayer when you sense danger. As Rustom talked I prayed; I needed a plan.

As I settled in to face Hicks, my prayers were answered, a plan came to me. When he bowled I plan to back off, not offering any defence and I would be bowled out, after all not much was expected of me. It’s that simple, I managed a smile. It’s amazing how simple life can be with a plan.

The first ball Hicks bowled was way outside and still I backed away, not smart, I thought, I may have tipped my hand or maybe he did not notice, so I’ll stick to my plan. The next ball, Hicks must have figured out my strategy as he bowled the ball at me and hit me right in my manhood.

The world stopped.

Ouch, I went down and was unable to counts the stars, they were going by so fast. I considered staying down, but that would look bad, I considered retiring hurt, but then I remembered, Hicks and I were going to have a long competitive sports history especially in soccer. I could not give in that easy.

I am not sure how long I stayed down, seemed like a life time and as the stars began to slow down I repeated in my mind;

I am Tony Carter from Trafalgar and I don’t have on planning any kids.

I got up, bushed myself off, pretended that my ‘@***$‘didn’t hurt and settled in. The next ball be bowled, I may have closed my eyes as I drove it past him to the boundary. At that moment I realize the answer to my prayers was not to run, but always face your fears. That day I grew up as a batsman. I had not made more than 20 runs in a game and was quite content with that achievement until that day.

After my mishap, I batted for the rest of the day making 63. I frustrated the hell out of the opposition. Hector, one of my cricket heroes was not impressed with me. He was the wicketkeeper so we had lots of time to exchange stories about not having kids.

It was my finest day in cricket. After that game I was recommended to the selectors to try out for a U17 Regional team to compete against a visiting Australian U17 Team; I was not asked, thank god for I had heard about a kid name Gary Gilmour that bowled faster than Hicks. Sometime you have to realize your limits.

I am still Tony Carter from Trafalgar and I have 4 healthy children.

The only Kittitian Couch potato in Calgary

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