Sunday, April 15, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: Day Out at Foul Bay

Foul Bay isn't very appropriately named. It is totally tranquil. Blue sea. Waves that on the whole stay away from you. Fine white sand. Trees. Some intimidating rocky cliffs a slight distance away. On the whole, it's the sort of place American teenagers spend the first few days before inviting the wrath of strange creatures and spirits in B-grade thrillers.

And it's at the Foul Bay beach that the Barbados Tourism Authority had arranged for us hard-working foreign journalists to have a spot of fun. Fun in the form of beach cricket. The idea was that a team of 13-14 foreign journalists would get together a form a team called 'Media Moguls' that would play the 'Bajan Legends', which would have true legends like Joel Garner and a few non-entities like Carlisle Best and Roland Holder. Or so we were told.

None of the legends eventually turned up, and neither did the non-entities. Garner did make a guest appearance after repeated calls from the organisers, but left in 10 minutes. But the journalists turned up in hordes, and were eventually broken up into three teams - the Moguls, the Legends and the Mount Gay Rum team. A serious carpet-like pitch was readied for us, because while playing cricket in the sand is fun, it's difficult to have a full-fledged match.

The beer had been stacked up beyond the boundary along the cover-point region, and the barbecue had been set up around thirdman. Tent-like sheds for the non-cricketers to idle in was around extra cover, and a small stage had also been erected, which started the Calypso going just before we were to start the first match, and like at the World Cup, the music came on each time a wicket fell or an over was bowled. The leg side had to be kept vacant for the waves to have their game and for the sixes to be hit. Needless to say, we also had a commentator, a typically funny Bajan gent.

The game wasn't much and most of the people really were no good as cricketers. Having said that though, I managed a paltry seven while batting, so maybe a lot of people would be saying the same about me. But six of those seven runs came off one hit over mid-wicket and the single was a blind heave that ended up being an outside edge to point. But the wicketkeeping went well. A couple of stumpings and a catch was effected. For the record, Media Moguls (that's my team) lost by a few runs...though a lot of us felt that no one had kept score properly.

Anyway, the match was really incidental, as the trip - from the time we were picked up from the hotel around 12, to the climb-back-into-the-bus-with-aching-bones at around 6 - was really about having fun. And we certainly did have fun. The cricket was different, in that it was played on a Caribbean beach, where we have grown up knowing all serious West Indian legends have had a go. A lot of beer was had (six-seven bottles, though a friend suggests it was closer to 40) and a lot of chicken and fish was gobbled up. And when the Legends played the Mount Gay team, we also had a little dip in the sea.

So on the whole, a great day. What was originally meant to be for a story on 'beach cricket with the legends', turned out to be a day when the camera never came out of the bag.

Meeting Patrick Eagar
Well, that's not entirely correct. Because Patrick Eagar was there. And even though no West Indian cricket legend was around, Eagar, a legend in his own right, was. So I lined up an interview with him and thus the camera emergeth.

He is a really sweet elderly gentleman who has fascinating stories to tell about his own career and all the World Cups from 1975 downwards. He didn't play, but took a lot of shots of our game. And thus us journalists have now reached the same bracket as the great cricketers who feature in Eagar's films.