AN OXYMORON is a figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined. While one dictionary lists as examples the phrases “thunderous silence” and “sweet sorrow,” I recently, and quite by accident, discovered what Saddam Hussein, were he a collector of oddities instead of Kuwaitis, would have been called the “mother” of oxymorons.
It was an announcement that the president of Cricket West Indies, Dave Cameron, who is definitely not a “cricketer” in any serious sense or meaning of the word, was not only inducted into a “Cricket Hall of Fame” but also gave the keynote address which included a “vision” for West Indies cricket.
Coming from him of all people, this should have been a very short speech, even shorter than the one given by someone who was asked to do a speech on “sex.” He got up, looked at the audience, smiled and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure.” Then he sat down.
Dave’s speech was much longer and an abridged or edited version in the Jamaica Observer on November 13, 2018, was over 2,000 words or twice the length of one of my columns. In the speech, Cameron mentioned the legendary greats – George Headley, Sir Garry Sobers and the 3Ws (Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott) and “many others” – with the comment that it was “almost surreal that I am being called to occupy space within this fraternity of giants.”
Now who in whatever Almighty’s name would have the audacity, temerity, stupidity, bad taste, poor judgment and total lack of appreciation for cricket history to place any official, especially one with Cameron’s track record, among the great players?
When the best of our cricket journalists, Tony Cozier, described West Indies cricket as “teetering on the edge of extinction,” he asked a question which shifted the blame that was being heaped on Dwayne Bravo right back to where it belonged, on Cameron: “Would he (WICB president Cameron) like to comment on the BCCI’s revelation that it had received his e-mail at 3 am (India time) on October 8, 11 hours before the scheduled start of the first ODI in Kochi, stating that he was withdrawing the team from the tour?” Hardly the stuff of legends.
Fortunately for the game of cricket and its credibility, the only major and recognised Hall of Fame for cricket is owned and managed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in conjunction with FICA (Federation of International Cricketers). FICA had the only internationally recognised Hall of Fame, which ran from 1999 to 2003, and the ICC took it over as part of its centenary celebrations on January 2, 2009.
Every year the ICC has an induction ceremony and, fortunately for the game and ICC’s reputation, only the best cricketers are on the list, which starts with Curtly Ambrose and ends with Waqar Younis, but includes the three Ws, Courtney Walsh, Garfield Sobers, Andy Roberts, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Brian Lara, Michael Holding, George Headley, Wes Hall, Gordon Greenidge, Lance Gibbs and Joel Garner.
Among the “Cs” there is a woman, Belinda Clarke, the Chappell brothers (Greg and Ian), Dennis Compton, Colin Cowdrey and Martin Crowe but, as yet, no Dave Cameron. And as one of my friends said caustically, “That and a yellow donkey you will never see.” Unless of course the donkey is suicidal and dyed by its own hands or hooves.
What is interesting about that event in New York is former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams, a person I respect immensely, was also “inducted” at the same time. I would have thought that as an intelligent person and UWI graduate Jimmy would have recognised the name “New York Cricket Hall of Fame” to be an oxymoron, since “New York” and “cricket” go together only like other oxymorons – “jumbo shrimps,” “military intelligence,” “police service,” and “sports journalist.”
What is even more interesting is this excerpt from the Trinidad Guardian by sports journalist Vinode Mamchan: “President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron was a popular choice among the candidates inducted into the US Hall of Fame on the weekend in New York, USA. The Jamaican was chosen by the Hall of Fame panel headed by Michael Chambers and recognised for his work in the administration of West Indies cricket.
“Chambers, introducing Cameron, said he was a popular choice because he has stood firm amidst many detractors in his efforts to lead West Indies cricket forward. Dave has had a lot to deal with when it comes to West Indies cricket. A lot of people have had problems with his strong-minded leadership of cricket in the West Indies. We have had prime ministers come against him but he has stood tall and stuck to what he believed in and we are seeing the benefits he has brought to the board.”
On March 24, just over two weeks from now, Cricket West Indies (formerly the West Indies Cricket Board and before that the West Indies Cricket Board of Control) will have its annual general meeting. In a way the loss of control and being “over” board typify Cameron’s Cricket West Indies. There are legal questions about the eligibility of the Guyana Cricket Board to participate in the AGM and other questions about the financial management of CWI.
The reason given by one of my friends for the tenacity with which some members of the present board are clinging to power and supporting Cameron deals with what could happen if they lose. “Tony,” he said, “if that happen, you will see how fast the Hall of Fame will become a Hall of Shame.”
Tony Deyal was last seen saying that he no longer makes cricket jokes because they inevitably end up being in charge of West Indies Cricket