If that piece of white paper which came out of the pocket of Denesh Ramdin had read “THANK YOU, SIR VIV”, just think of the kudos he would have received from everyone, who would have put the young man’s comment as an appreciation for the jolt which Viv’s comments gave to the wicket keeper batsman. But he did not, and the scenario which occurred between his 100th run and the withdrawal of the piece of paper seemed to have angered everyone, all of whom felt that it was disrespect for the great Master Blaster. Having been involved in sport for almost all my life, I believe that this episode should be studied carefully before we jump to conclusions and form opinions of the player which may well reflect adversely into the minds of the selectors. Maybe we can throw our minds back to instances of the past where high profile sportsmen and women have been aggravated by either comments or decisions during their careers, and their immediate frame of mind caused them to do silly things, which in eventual hindsight, they felt sorry about doing. Instant reaction to these situations causes irrational behaviour as they appear to be responses to whatever comment is made.
Have we ever thought of the present frame of mind of a player who is angered by what appears to be unfair during a game, especially at a time when he is operating outside of his normal faculties? How many times have we seen some awful acts in situations like Denesh Ramdin’s dilemma ? This is where the dividing line between athlete and sportsman is often defined and unfortunately, the pain of criticism or an unfair decision against the athlete exposes the true strength or weakness of character. How many times have we seen the angry bowler show complete annoyance against an umpire’s decision. One type of reaction is to walk away and get started again, but surely we have seen others failing to hold their anger and kick the stump out of the ground or even bump “incidentally” into the back of nearest opponent. Do we recall the extraordinary footballer Zinedine Zidane responding to a tackle by head butting his opponent instantly, before the largest number of spectators across the world. These types of reactions are all wrong and players who perform these acts are not necessarily violent athletes, but they are operating within a highly pressurised environment and outside of their normal faculties. Surely, they vary in their ability to control their tempers and react differently. It is at times like these we are able to differentiate the significance between the athlete and the sportsman. The latter has learnt to accept adverse decisions without responding in an unbecoming manner.
Surely, Ramdin’s response was a demonstration of his weakness and even worse was the fact that he had time to consider his reply to Sir Viv’s comments. A quick view to his frame of mind during the scenario was a result of the pain which he felt when one of the most respected cricketers in the world decried his ability to play at this level. He probably felt that this strong criticism by Viv might have provided some unwarranted guidance to our selectors. I have the greatest respect for Sir Viv and understand his anger when the WI team, which he once helped to become the best in the world, had dived in the ratings and brought embarrassment to today’s Caribbean Cricket lovers. I know that he did not mean to affect the wicketkeeper personally, but sometimes words, when mentioned with some form of bitterness, tend to cloud the intention. Denesh did the correct thing and apologised, and if we view this issue as one which may have happened in your household, our first duty would be to save the young man from himself, together with explaining to him the importance of dealing with similar situations in the future.
Incidentally, why have I not heard many of the experts speak of the recent comments made by the new Chairman of WIPA Wavell Hinds, who implied on the TV channel Sportsmax that he did not approve of a curfew for cricketers participating at Test level? Of course, this is a sentiment which we have also heard from a former West Indian Captain amidst a Test series, and no one cared to take issue with a comment which is opposed to what the rules of the WICB may have been. Hinds, a former WI player and also a good sports presenter, has left me with the feeling that his message as head of WIPA is contrary and maybe a contravention of the rules of the WICB. Why have the WICB not taken issue with the statement? Or have they decided to give into the whims and fancy of the players’ association as part of the effort to bring the “outcast” players back into the fold? To my mind, this comment is as inappropriate as Ramdin’s. However, I love sport enough to hope that both these guys seek advice from their mentors and contribute meaningfully to the improvement of our team’s positive drive to go up in the ratings.