Cricket, yesteryear and this year
The other day, I was talking to Mr. Norris Harris of Double Head Cabbage (inset). Mr. Harris is in his early eighties, but still going strong. He is a great and respectable cricket fan wherever he is watching a game. We were talking cricket, as usual, and it flashed in my mind how cricket has changed in the Belize District (River Valley) so much. Not much for the better, though. Players must learn and understand the true meaning of the sport and the spirit thereto.
Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game from as far back as I can remember. I’m from one of the cricket playing areas, and I could remember as a little boy, when a game is to be played home, there was a lot to do Friday evening, helping my grandmother with whatever chore around the house. That is if I want to go watch the cricket game. On Saturday morning, my grandmother would wake up early and press (iron) my uncle Napolean Banner’s white uniform that was previously starched. She would have mid-day lunch on the fire in the pot at the same time. For, when the game reaches halfway mark, we would come home for lunch and be finished in time for the second half.
Soon in the morning, uncle Banner would go out meeting the rest of the teammates in order to have the field ready for the visiting team. Those days, the whole team players would join to do that. It does not happen that way now. In places I’ve visited early on a play day, only one or two players would be seen working. That part of the spirit is gone.
When we go to the playing area, a lot of spectators would be present even before the visiting team arrives. One special spectator was uncle Chico Vasquez. He would have already cut a piece of special stick to do his personal scoring. During the game, we would be constantly bothering him in finding out the score.
To cut the message short, after the game, whatever the result, everyone would gather and have fun. No fuss with anybody. Sometimes we would have a half-night party for the other team. That happens no more. After games finish now, visitors would just leave and go home. They don’t socialize anymore.
I would really like for those days to come back, when we would respect each other. I was taught by my elders that cricket was introduced to bring us together in a most harmonious way. Because cricket, of which I have a great passion, for while writing I’m getting very much emotional, because of the way it is being played.
Anyway, getting back to Mr. Harris. We spoke a lot. When I told him I’m leaving, he said, “Pete, you can sing very well; so, when I die, I want you to sing me to my grave.” I told him “ Friend, when and if you die, I will sing you straight to Heaven.” You’re blessed, Mr. Harris. Continue sharing your wealth of discipline.