What an extraordinary week! It had just about everything: sadness, happiness, anger, anticipation, and disappointment.
It started for me with sadness as I learned of the death of the last of the “Three W’s” - Sir Everton de Courcy Weekes who passed away at the age of 95. What a legend of the cricketing world this man was. He was diminutive in stature but he was a giant of a man with the bat in his hand as many of his opponents would detrimentally learn.
His life story is a remarkable one as he was born into poverty and his football-loving father named him Everton (surprisingly not Liverpool) after the famous English Merseyside club.
Late legend Jim Laker, the famous English spinner at the time, once remarked to Weekes: “It’s a good job your father wasn’t a fan of West Bromwich Albion." I am sure it would have prompted an equally sarcastic response from Sir Everton.
Personally, I met Sir Everton many years ago and he was always very jovial and never short of a cricket story. Even in his 90s, he was sharp, always had an answer to a question, and most of the time he would try to finish off with a joke. He was never short of advice for a youngster once they were prepared to listen.
In just 48 Tests, he scored 4,455 runs at a phenomenal average of 58.61 and still holds the record as the only man to score centuries in five consecutive Test innings. He has also scored the most Test runs by a West Indian right here at our very own Queen’s Park Oval (Port-of-Spain), a record that still stands to this day.
Sir Everton was a true gentleman. If only some of our modern-day sports personalities could take a page out of this man’s book and remain humble and grateful for the talent they possess. He is expected to be buried alongside his pals - Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott at the Three Ws Oval on the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados where a plot has been left vacant for him. May he rest in eternal peace.
Meanwhile, happiness came around when I heard that Prime Minister Keith Rowley was willing to step in and assist in the ongoing impasse between the former executive of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) and FIFA. Three months too late, in my view, but the PM also warned the football fraternity that he did not wish to give false hope to suggest something positive will come out of any talks he has with FIFA.
We are all aware of FIFA’s policy when it comes to governments getting involved in football in their respective countries as punitive measures usually follow such as sanctions and suspensions. But, Rowley is a shrewd politician and it will take some convincing from him to tell me that he can’t use his persuasive abilities to speak with FIFA president Gianni Infantino to bring the football fraternity out of this disaster.
After all, he met him in Trinidad on a couple of occasions; the most notable being the “opening” of the ‘Home of Football’ (Couva) back in November 2019 and with whom he describes as being “in a good relationship with”. He even went as far as alluding that under Infantino’s leadership, FIFA appears to be changing their modus operandi. Obviously, the keyword here - appears.
Then, I got “really ticked off” when I read that Cricket West Indies (CWI) board member Conde Riley, who is also president of the Barbados Cricket Association, had called for the immediate removal of West Indies head coach Phil Simmons for moving out of the team’s bio-secure location to attend his father-in-law’s funeral ahead of the first Test match against England. Riley couldn’t be serious. More often than not, I wonder about the individuals who run our respective territorial boards; they sometimes make no sense, is it just a burning desire to be relevant?
Surely a phone call to the president of CWI would have cleared up any misunderstanding. Simmons is not stupid. He would have followed all given guidelines to be with his family. I would also expect his wife and children would have needed his support at a very emotional time like this.
My God, Mr Riley, do you now possess a bionic heart? Actually, it makes me wonder whether there is something more than what we read behind this call to have Simmons removed. Just for your information, Conde, in case you didn’t realise, Phil Simmons is the best coach we have presently in the region so try and support him instead of making unfounded statements.
With the start of the first Test match yesterday, I was looking forward with great anticipation at both Test squads. I more or less predicted the England squad as they went for players who have performed well in recent series and I expect the West Indies selectors will do the same. Can we do to the English what we did 18 months ago and defeat them again? Only time will tell as the world anticipates a strange series.
Finally, my joy turned to disappointment as I read where FIFA had agreed to mediation with the TTFA only for them (FIFA) to withdraw from the mediation talks. FIFA has blamed on its decision to withdraw squarely on the shoulders of the United TTFA attorneys for their failure “...to keep the matter confidential, in line with their professional and ethical obligations.”
What a cop-out! Absolutely ridiculous that FIFA is using the United TTFA lawyers as scapegoats in this affair. We all know lawyers go behind closed doors and try to end an impasse without it having to go to court. The lawyers, as far as I am aware, did not reveal any information other than to advise the public that mediation talks would be taking place. Instead, FIFA released more information than the public needed to know.
Back to square one, folks. It’s FIFA’s way or the highway. How utterly and disgracefully disappointing.
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.