As a proud West Indian, I would like to publicly appeal to our West Indies Cricket Board to issue an official apology to under 19 South African batsman, Jiveshan Pillay, and to the entire South African under 19 cricket team for the unsportsmanlike manner in which West Indies under 19 captain, Emmanuel Stewart, secured Pillay’s dismissal in the West Indies versus South Africa match in the 2018 under 19 Cricket World Cup.
Emmanuel Stewart may be a young cricketer, but surely he is not too young to know that one does not appeal to the Umpire for the dismissal of a batsman who has picked up a ball that is effectively ‘dead’, and who then throws the ball to a fielder in a gesture of helpfulness towards the fielding side! It does not matter what the strict rules of the game may say: all of us in the West Indies have grown up with the notion that that type of behaviour does not accord with our principles and with the spirit in which West Indians play cricket.
And what makes such an apology especially urgent from my point of view is the fact that in the bad old days of apartheid, generations of black and coloured South Africans grew up idolizing the West Indies cricket team and drawing inspiration from their heroics on the field of play and from the dignity that they exuded as outstanding black men.
This is the second under 19 World Cup in a row that a young West Indian cricketer has tarnished the West Indies hard won reputation for fairness and principled competitiveness in how our regional team plays the game of cricket. It was just two years ago, in 2016, that the young West Indian bowler, Keemo Paul, ran out a young Zimbabwean batsman by the name of Richard Ngarava for venturing out of the crease before the bowler completed his delivery of the ball. Once again, virtually every youngster who grew up with the game of cricket in the West Indies knows that one does not effect that type of run out of a batsman unless one has first warned the batsman about his infractions and he still persists with the illicit behaviour.
What is really going on with our youth cricket? Why is it that our young cricketers don’t seem to know these fundamental principles that West Indians of previous generations took for granted?