Indian Arrival Day celebrations took place last week and in the following weeks, beginning here in Trinidad and Tobago at the Queen's Park Oval yesterday, India's cricket team is once again here to do battle with our regional team.It was at the Queen's Park Oval back in March and April of 1971, after his series-winning scores of 65, 67 not out, 124 and 220 in these two matches that prompted the Lord Relator (Willard Harris) to pen what has become an immortal calypso classic, albeit at the expense of the losing West Indies team, a tribute to India's batting master Sunil Gavaskar:
A lovely day for cricket
Blue skies and gentle breeze
The Indians are awaiting now
To play the West Indies
A signal from the umpire
Play is about to start
The cricketers come on the field
They all look very smart ...
It was Gavaskar
We real master
Just like a wall
We couldn't out Gavaskar at all, not at all
You know the West Indies couldn't out Gavaskar at all
As with many of the over 140 documented cricket-themed calypsoes dating back to 1928, history jumps out at the listener as events of the day are brought to life in music and song, where most of them trumpet the victories and heroes of our Caribbean cricketers. Probably the most famous of those in the latter category is the Lord Beginner's (Egbert Moore) Victory Test Match alias Cricket Lovely Cricket...at Lord's where I saw it, which heralded the West Indies historic defeat of the English team at Lord's in 1950.Then there was Crazy's (Edwin Ayoung) 1975 humourous calypso where he conjured up images of 'googlee', which reminded him of his Chinese heritage, and thirdman, leg break, long leg, short leg, fine leg etc. SuperBlue's (Austin Lyons) Signal to Lara even won the road march title in 1995.
Calypso and cricket go hand in hand with West Indian culture and can be considered as two of the strongest ties that bind us together (and sometimes divide us) as a region. In fact our cricketers were dubbed from early on as 'CALYPSO CRICKETERS' reflective of our rhythmic exuberance and our flashy brand of play. To the world, the region's national anthem is David Rudder's Rally Round the West Indies which is played before the start of international games.To digress, it is sad that to date there is no central calypso archive in Trinidad and Tobago where, like no book can, our history can be heard through the lyrical content of countless calypsoes of the day. We probably will lament the not-too-far-off day when another country might lay claim to such an archive.