No fear in Ja, Brian

By CARLENE De BOURG A Trini in Jamaica

unday, January 25, 1998

JAMAICANS can't wait for Brian Lara to get here. No, not to flog him, as was speculated in one terribly sad Newsday story recently about a band of 'fraid-'fraid Trinis. They can't even get our national flag right, far less handle the heckling of the Jamaican crowd when Lara leads the West Indies for the first time as bona fide captain, in the First Test match against England at Sabina Park starting on Thursday. No, Jamaicans in general are not planning to ``make things uncomfortable'' for the new West Indies captain either, as one could be led to believe from reading the one-man columnists left and right in the press here, who ritually fill up their regular inches with as much anti-Lara sentiment as they can muster.

There will, of course, still be a few persons at Sabina Park who have been influenced by these media views that have not yet moved ahead with the times. These persons may consider it their national duty to try to embarrass Lara and his supporters in the crowd, and could easily fit in with those on display last October at Chedwin Park, where Lara was lashed with severe criticism from the stands during the 1997/98 Red Stripe Bowl tournament.

These nationalists will perhaps be the ones to boo the new skipper on the first day, thinking that they have the support of the majority. But they will be drowned out by the wait!-let's-see-this attitude of serious cricket fans, the kind willing to fork out J$1,000 to enter each day of a Test match hoping to see the best West Indies side play-and win! It is a majority of these who will fill Sabina Park on Thursday.

Of course, it is difficult for any Trini in Jamaica-a target for provocation whenever Brian Lara is in the news-to objectively present an accurate picture of the average view of Jamaicans about the new West Indies team leader. But judging from other persons' reported experiences and from what ordinary people have said on radio and television, Jamaicans don't seem to have a problem with Lara as captain. ``Jamaicans were against Lara at one time because him couldn wait fi him turn,'' one Kingston resident offered as explanation. ``So now him is the captain, we haffi back him and support him and hope him do him best for West Indies cricket.''

Another eager Jamaican supporter of Lara declared: ``Walsh bring the embarrassment on himself: he should have seen how obvious it was that Lara was going to get named captain and should have stepped down. Is Lara time now.''

Yes, there appears to be a sizeable population of Jamaicans who are simply lying back, arms folded, waiting to see what this genius is all about, what the captaincy fuss was all about. Their immediate concern after Lara was appointed captain seemed to be what was going to happen to the former captain. But now that the question has been put to rest, the bubbling cauldron of Jamaican insularity has boiled down like bhaji-for now at least-and a sense of expectancy has taken its place. Jamaicans can't wait for Brian Lara to get here; they want to be impressed. Like everybody else in the Caribbean, they're hoping that the change of captain, however much it hurt some people, will bring good results.

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:06