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Weeks, Worrell, Walcott, Sobers, Hall and Griffith; the names of figures who were an integral part of the ‘Barbadian brand’ of cricket which was central to the successes of the West Indies’ dominance of the cricket of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Grantley Edwards, in this book, captures the essence of this ‘brand’ described by C.L.R. James as an exciting, attacking and attractive spectacle of fast bowling and batting. He traces the entry into the game of players such as Conrad Hunte, Sobers himself, the three Ws, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and others, and their impact on the game as played by the West Indies.

The attitudes of English commentators who expressed the opinions that county cricket provided the “finishing school” for West Indian cricketers, are vigorously disputed by Edwards. He points out that by the time players like Sobers, Kanhai, et al entered county cricket, they were already accomplished cricketers.

The successes and the feeling of elation engendered by the West Indian players during this period when the psychological effect was felt—not only by the supporters at home, but more so by those in the diaspora—was matched by the equally devastating effect when they failed. It triggered a feeling of dejection that was even more acute. The ‘fall from glory’ that signaled the end of the era of dominance resulted in feelings of dejection by every West Indian supporter, in England especially. Where previously they had been able to feel on equal ground or on even higher ground than their counterparts in the pubs and other places, they now had to hang their heads. They had no answer to the jeers of the natives of ‘the mother country’.

These ‘ordinary’ immigrants were highly knowledgeable about all aspects of the game, and found it difficult to understand the failures of the now younger players and their seeming lack of pride and passion for the game. As Edwards points out: “Sobers became the world’s greatest because of his love and passion for the game.” He sees the fall from glory as a result of the loss of love and passion for the game. This lack of pride is reflected in West Indies captain Richie Richardson’s infamous and dismissive comments when, as referred to scathingly by Wes Hall as the West Indies’ “fall from grace to disgrace,” the West Indies loss to England was “no great deal,” he did not share the Bajan pain that the citadel that had withstood the assaults by foreign forces for fifty years had fallen.

Edwards bemoans the “ruination of young Barbadian and West Indian players” who played county cricket, due to the unreasonable workloads and expectations [that] placed too high a burden on [their] shoulders.

This book is well worth the read. Ardent cricket enthusiasts, purists and fans are provided with statistics and comments that give credence to Edwards’ assertions, and the reader will be educated about the psychological effect winning and losing has on the psyche of Barbadians and West Indians at home and abroad.

Cricket is a game that, to a West Indian, goes ‘beyond the boundary’, and Edward’s analysis mirrors this concept.

Alvin Cummins, BSc, MSc, FSMT, MPhil.

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