OF FOG AND CRICKET
‘Fog lies in different mountains’ that is literal translation from my language when we mean no condition is permanent. This we mean in a good way. When we say ‘the thing called a wheel turns’ we mean the same thing in a negative way. That today you can laugh at a person going through hard times tomorrow will come for you too.
I have seen the former manifests to so many people when they keep that as a mantra. It almost is linked to faith, that if it did not go well today, tomorrow might be your lucky day that the fog can spread in your mountain (life) too.
I have seen the wheel turning in so many people I know because of their mouths. What they say about others and how they say it. Now that I have become a mother, I count and calculate words I utter about others. I seek to help and uplift rather than see gloom and talk failure in others because I am scared on the think called wheel turning on me or my children.
The Mighty All Blacks.
Coming back to fog lying in different mountains. Last year we watched our favorite team in international cricket playing finals of the 20/20 International cricket tournament in Kolkata India. I must just mention that we are fanatics of cricket and rugby in our home. Our favorite teams are not our country teams although we support them up to a level.
In rugby we are the All Blacks of the great New Zealand and in Cricket we are what they used to call the might West Indies of the Caribbean. I do not know why but I suspect with New Zealand it is because of the struggle of the Maori people who in so many ways, their struggle is more like that of black South Africans, yet in rugby they kick ass. As for the West Indies I really think it is straight forward, these guys look like us more than any Africans in the diaspora. So much so when they are about to speak I almost always expect them to start talking with heavy clicks like my people.
In the final, the Windies played what is now known as the mighty English team. The odds were 80% against the Windies but I guess 20% was good enough for my non clicking brothers. When a fog has to lie somewhere it disregards statistics or history.
Oh the Caribbean….My Africa outside Africa
The only difference between these teams was their material backgrounds, their mental intensity and their emotional resilience. The West Indies (Caribbean) team left home with no uniform because their board was not supporting them. The board that is supposed to be their mother did not pay for the tournament because of pay dispute. Their country islands do not control cricket so Jamaican, Barbados , Granada, Trinidad and Tobago governments cannot be blamed for not caring. The death or the living of the team depends on the board.
The people from outside, also threw some slew on them, Mark Nichlolson, the English commentator called them a team short of brains. What was said by Shane Warne, the legendary Australian cricketer about them and in particular Marlon Samuel cannot be written in these pages.
In God we trust
So going to this tournament, the Windies as they are affectionately known were attacked at home by their so called mother by denying them material requirements like uniforms and playing kit and necessity of touring like a cost of flying to another country. They were attacked mentally by the likes of Mark Nicholson for being empty heads and continuously emotionally denigrated by Australians (but who do Australians not belittle?) through Shane Warne.
Going into India they had nothing but their mother’s prayers, their father’s name to protect and their hope that this time, fog will lie in their mountain again.
When predictions were made about who was going to win the tournament. The Windies did not exceed the group stages. At the same time, their women team that was playing same tournament was almost not even allowed to compete because of lack of funds.
Going nowhere slowly
Besides these setbacks, the Windies won every match in their group but lost to a team worse than them in challenges, the Afghanistan which never qualified to play in the prestige tournament ever. The underdogs. Windies beat South Africa ( third favorites), Pakistan, Sri Lanka to be in the semi final.
In the semi final they met the Indians, the absolute favorites. The home team and the best over the 20/20 format of the game. That too was a tantalizing game they won by one run on the last over.
What was more than tantalizing was the final they played with England. They were short of nineteen runs on the last over. On the crease Marlon Samuels on 89 and Carlos Brathwait, the fastbowler at 7 from 7 balls. At this stage, my prayer was that Carlos hits a one so he can allow Samuels to face Stokes, the English brilliant allrounder.
Brathwait had never played in this level. No support of the mother body. Even though before the start of any match the entire team burst in song which is the board’s anthem to unify all the Caribbean islands in cricket.
He is not supposed to be facing anyone because he is a bowler and he has done very well bowling the English out in their innings. He was in this position because the English bowled so well that the top order Caribbean batsman crumbled at the crease.
The hope of a nation of cricket in the Caribbean lied in both him and Samuels for vindication. I thought to myself. At that moment, I realized that during the entire match, no over has made nineteen runs even when they had proper batsman on the crease. The ask was impossible, especially from a novice and a bowler.
I resigned to the fact that they will be runner ups. It was not bad. I mean South Africans and the loud Australians did not even make it out of the group stages. The Windies made it to the finals beating the home team to get there. That was an achievement enough for me.
What I did not know was that it was time the fog to lie in the Caribbean people again, like it used to do in the seventies and the early eighties when one could not refer to them without the prefix ‘Mighty’. When Seymour Nurse, Roy Fredericks, Sir Viv Richardson, Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Brian Lara and so on, held high the same spirit of the never say die.
Carlos Brathwait, as awkwardly tall as he was for a batsman, brought me to the realization that when your mountain has been pointed out by the universe to carry the fog that moment, no matter the impossibilities. It does not matter that playing at the international level yet you do not have kit or airfare or shoes. It does not matter that you are short of brains as pointed out by Mark Nicholson or whatever the insults the Australians send your way.
The fog will just lie in your mountain and the think called wheel will turn for your nay sayers.
In that over, those six balls. England’s Champaign was out of the freezer for sure, and with good reason. It was just a matter of their hope Stoke, who had played extraordinarily well over the tournament and exceedingly well in this particular game to shut it down.
But then things did not go that way, first ball of the six balls left of the match, Carlos batted it over the stands for six. Now the required runs for a win are 13 from 5 balls. By now we all get excited still holding on to our sits, we feel he must change and let Sammy to face Stokes, because obviously Sammy is the most experienced batsman in the crease.
Stokes the medium pace English bowler comes again with the second ball of the over, it is a beautiful yorker that should have resulted in a bowling out of Carlos at the most, at the least it should have been a dot ball with no run. But as the universe pointed out, that moment the fog was lying and resting in the Caribbean. So what does Carlos do with it. He bowls it out of the field to the stands again for another six. It has never been heard of. A number seven batsman bowling two consecutive sixes. This time the Windies team and my father are standing on their feet.
The scores are tied.
The third balls of the last over, Stokes the man who has made a superb contribution to both the batting and bowling of the English team is facing the universe. So he brings it on and Carlos once again bowls a six, by now the team is almost in the field. This is the staff expected from their Gayle, our De Villiers, Indian Virat Kohli when they are in form.
Myself, my mother, my father, my daughter everything in our house is screaming by now. ‘The scores are tied’. Remember the requirement going into this last over was nineteen, Carlos has hit three consecutive sixes to make eighteen. Now the scores are tied. Windies need to make only one run from three balls to taste the sweetest victory.
I prayed, ‘Please Carlos just one, don’t give away your wicket trying to make huge runs, one is enough’. God said to him, ‘have you seen my finger change and directing the fog to go the other way? So Carlos my boy whatever ball he serves you, hit it hard, I will carry it through the stands again. That Carlos did and God finished His work.
Needless to say the celebration was beyond. Earlier in the day the West Indies Women Team won the tournament too. They were carrying their trophy celebrating in their colourful style with the man. In February the junior team won the same tournament. In the history of cricket, such victories are not known even by countries whose mother body, governments and businesses queue to pour in money and support in their game.
As I watched Sammy the captain being interviewed by Nasser Hussaine, the English commentator and former batsman, his emotions showing visibly. In an interview that might be his last he pointed out that they received a message from the prime minister of Granada wishing the team the best of luck that morning. He also said they had unfortunately not heard from the West Indies cricket board since they entered the tournament. Abandoned by their mother.
A praying team
What touched me most is what he said next. ‘West Indies is a praying team’. Fletcher, one of their all rounders is a pastor who prays with the team in every situation.
I asked myself if my mantra that I have always lived by, that we live for our kids applies at any situation. Look at them and many children in my community who never had a mother or father to live for them, but God points the fog to lie in their mountains. They are successful human beings.
They went through life being denied of basic material like shoes. They are degraded in their schools and told how short their minds are and everyday there is a Mark Warne in their lives who bullies them, yet they shine when God points the fog to their mountain.
No mountain has monopoly over the fog, it lies in everyone at anytime.
You need faith, tenacity and strong character to win, but even with those in hand, if the hand has not pointed at you as the recipient of the fog, those do not matter.
Hold on, the fog is on its way
If you are being neglected by people who are supposed to love you, when people who do not know you call you stupid and when there are constant bullies on your way, never give up. They will never reserve the hand that points where the fog should lie. The thing called wheel will turn on them and fog will lie in your mountain.
“You need faith, tenacity and strong character to win- but the hand that points the fog needs to agree”
I am telling you, soon it will be lying in your life, because there is no condition that is permanent. Your time is coming, and even if you cannot see it right now, remember God opened a sea for his people to cross over. If He can do that to a raving ocean, what will stop Him on fog day.
Hold on and keep doing the right things, the fog is on its way!
by Namhla Mbunge