It is quite fitting that for acting “contrary to the spirit of the game,” West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council. His disgraceful and disrespectful display on Sunday deserved a severe pen-alty, as well as a strong reprimand. It was unsportsmanlike behaviour which tainted a rare moment of glory for the team. Ramdin’s 143-run partnership with record-breaking number 11 batsman Tino Best should have been the main post-game talking point. However, he took things in an entirely different direction when, after making only his second Test 100, he produced a piece of paper from his pocket and displayed a message that read: “Yeah Viv talk nah.”
That was his churlish response to criticism from former West Indies legend Viv Richards about his recent dismal performances for the West Indies.
Ramdin’s explanation that he “got a bit emotional and it came out the way it did” certainly does not help. If he cannot accept constructive criticism from one of the greatest cricketers ever to come out of the West Indies, how can he be expected to learn and develop as a sportsman? It is a fact that Ramdin has struggled with the bat for a long time and has not kept wicket well during this series, so he should have taken note of—not offence at—Sir Viv’s comment. Worse yet, after Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramdin is the most senior player on the team at present, and should be setting the tone for the younger players. Ramdin is, of course, also the current captain of the Trinidad and Tobago team. Were it not for that attention-getting incident, we would have been celebrating the fact that he finally found form on Sunday, converting his overnight 60 into an unbeaten 107 to help lift the Windies to 426 in their first innings.
Ramdin might be in need of a refresher course in good sportsmanship which has as one of its most fundamental characteristics, respect.
Unfortunately, he isn’t the only regional player who has displayed arrogant, childish behaviour, both on and off the field, in recent times. Too often, controversies and personality clashes have overshadowed and negatively affected the team’s performances. Such a situation left the team without senior all-rounder Chris Gayle for 14 months following his public spat with the WICB and head coach Ottis Gibson. That matter has only just been resolved after long, difficult mediating efforts involving Gayle’s rep- resentatives, WICB officials, Prime Minister of St Vincent Ralph Gonsalves and Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua. Gayle will finally rejoin the team for the upcoming ODI series beginning on Saturday. While the West Indies team has shown some flashes of brilliance in recent matches, it is still very much a team trying to emerge from years of decline. To succeed as a unit, players need to develop the characteristics of true sportsmen, including respect, maturity and ethics. Raw athletic talent alone isn’t enough for success in any sporting arena.