No sooner is the Christmas and New Year celebration out the way, the countdown begins to the islands’ world famous fiesta. As one well informed Trinidadian explained to me: “It’s pretty difficult getting any business done here between mid-December and the start of February!”
That’s just the way it is. Nobody is interested in New Year resolutions or hitting the gym. Nobody suffers from the mid-winter blues. They just want to dance, sing, eat, avoid working too hard and talk about the pride of the nation — the T&T cricket team.
It is well worth talking about. It is a very good team. It has spawned and nurtured countless internationals for the West Indies including the great Brian Lara — arguably the greatest batsman of his generation and revered far beyond the boundaries of his native land.
A brand new cricket stadium is being built in his honour. Despite an impressive facade, visible from the highway which runs south from Port of Spain, it is not yet finished. No one I spoke to could give me a definitive answer as to when it might be. In T&T a simple shrug of the shoulders can have a thousand meanings.
Eventually the shining new facility, complete with curved roofing to protect its patrons from the burning heat of the day, will host international cricket. Perhaps, in the future, the West Indies will take on Canada at the Brian Lara Stadium.
Don’t hold your breath.
I’ve just returned from a five day trip, covering the Canadians’ latest sojourn to the most southerly of the West Indies isles. The report card does not give rise to optimism anytime soon. There are few positives to work on for head coach Gus Logie, who was forced to watch his team outclassed in every format of the game.
A three-day game at the National Cricket Centre ended in little more than two. It was a lopsided innings win for the hosts for whom three players helped themselves to eye-catching centuries. With four senior players away on international duty, this was an opportunity for the young guns to impress the selectors.
A pair of back-to-back T20s followed. The Canadians lost the first by nine wickets, and in the second, when set a target in excess of 180, they showed little appetite for the chase — settling for a slow, lingering but utterly predictable death.
The final game, a 50-over one-dayer followed a similar pattern. For the first time on tour, Canada managed to muster a total in excess of 200. It proved woefully inadequate and the hosts cantered to their goal with fully 10 overs to spare.
The results should surprise no one. Trinidad & Tobago is, by a distance, the strongest regional power in the Caribbean. Even without half the team — the Bangladesh Premier League currently employs two more — this was never a contest. It was men against boys.
Canada was given a cricketing lesson. It is one the players will do well to learn. Losing to a better team is no disgrace, but the manner in which they were beaten is extremely troubling. From my vantage point, it appeared the team was resigned to its fate and wasn’t prepared to go down fighting.
The batting was too often laboured; the bowling too often wayward and the fielding was, at times, horrifying. I lost count of the number of misfields and dropped catches for which there is little excuse. These are the basics of cricket and Canada was found wanting.
There is talent on this Canadian team. By and large it is a young roster with time to improve its standing among the ICC’s Associate fraternity. However, based on the evidence of its performances in Trinidad and Tobago, it badly needs clear leadership and a rededication to upgrade both its technical ability and mental strength.
Carnival in T&T is all about colour, dance and a nationwide celebration of the island’s culture. But mostly it is about the music. From modest dwellings to huge arenas the music blasts out all day and most of the night.
Whatever they were moving to, Canada’s cricketers never found their rhythm.