It was envisioned as the biggest Caribbean sporting extravaganza ever imagined — a virtual UWI T-21 Match, a testy but balanced contest of contrary ideas on a vexing question of deep and wide regional import.
Appropriately codenamed to coincide with the year and century of its invocation, the new Carib-bean sporting innovation was appropriately heralded as ‘The March Match of the Century’.
And it turned-out to be the typical West Indies Cricket ‘Grudge Match’ the region’s earlier foundation test cricketers fought and won against the creators and innovators of ‘The Gentle-man’s Game’.
The series was intended to pit against each other two irreconcilable sides — an unstoppable force and an immovable object.
The issue: Both agree that the Caribbean has a distinct place in history, but disagree sharply on what best demonstrates ‘The True Caribbean Spirit’ — one side insisting its ‘West Indies Cricket’, the other maintaining its ‘T&T Carnival’.
The debate has raged for the past three decades at The UWI, where 50,000 of the region’s best brains reside today, but the two final options were: A One-off Ex-Tempo Calypso Contest or a Two-Over T-21 Cricket Match between the captains, with The Mighty Sparrow and Gary Sobers as Umpires…
The agreed formula was simple: The Chancellor and The Vice Chancellor would face each other — and the highest score wins.
It would be the first virtual cricket match ever, a 21st Century vision for another potentially-lucrative online gaming model of the age-old game — much like Kerry Packer’s introduction of night cricket in South Africa.
In this virtual formula, balls are bowled by Posts and runs are scored off Replies.
By unplanned coincidence, the ‘Chancellors Grudge Match’ was set for the same day of the start of the trial (in Minneapolis, USA) of Derek Chauvin, the policeman charged with George Floyd’s murder.
Ahead of the match, the two captains stood at attention – in the widest maximum observance of Social Distancing — while their chosen ‘Calypso Anthems’ streamed into devices across the re-gion.
The Chancellor’s anthem featured David Rudder singing about ‘Remembering’ Paul Keans-Douglas accounts of ‘Tantie Merle’ flying to Barbados to see ‘Cricket at The Oval’; the Vice Chancellor’s featuring The Mighty Gabby singing about ‘King Dyal’ following her on his ‘Royal Bicycle’ and ‘Tantalizing Tantie Merle’ with stern warnings to ‘Stay-out De Steel Donkey Way!’
The Chancellor won the spin and let The VC bat first.
Batsman and Bowler live-wired into the streaming commentary feeds and with Mighty Sparrow and Sir Gary umpiring with cursers on streamed home screens in Port of Spain and Bridgetown, followed by a global cross-continental audience, it was indeed A Good day For Cricket.
Gabby’s rhythm echoed in the background as The VC marked his crease and The Chancellor heeled his mark at the bowler’s end.
Sir Gary’s silent ‘Guh-Long’ wave signaled online with a Conch Shell Blast, the first-ever Carib-bean T-21 One-Over Cricket Test started.
BALL #1: Chancellor opened his Power-Point Over with a Full Toss – A Commission of Experts to examine how The VC leads The UWI Test Team; the umpire called a ‘Wide’ and VC ran a single, getting off-the-mark with One and the score at Two.
BALL #2: Chancellor bowled a Full Toss – Posting the Commission’s Findings just ahead of an important Meeting of the Board of Selectors; VC this time ducking after the umpire signaled a ‘No Ball’, the score moving to Three – and the VC’s Management Team filing an objection claiming Willful Intent to Prejudice selectors.
BALL #3: Chancellor tossed a Yorker – An editorial in a Barbados newspaper accusing VC of turning the Cave Hill, Mona and St. Augustine into unsustainable modern Old Boys Clubs; the VC responding with a side-stepping flick, edging the cannon to his first boundary through the slips with a statement by almost 150 world-class cricketers saying his style cricket was ‘Just what The Cricket Doctor prescribed…’ with the score at Seven.
BALL #4: Chancellor spun a Googlie – a Declaration by a fellow knight that the Commission had no prejudicial intent against the Knight in Dark Armor, whose brigadiers were confusing a Declaration of Findings with a Declaration of Intent; VC again replying in full swing, this time lashing-out with another swerving shot over (what would have been) the wicketkeeper’s head for another boundary, sending the score to Eleven.
BALL #5: Chancellor changed bowling tactics, this time letting-off a Leg Spin – posting a statement by the Jamaica branch of the UWI’s Inter-Campus Players’ Union that claimed the match was ‘A good one, but for bad reasons…’; The VC responded posting a US $25 million pledge from Silicon Valley to help pursue the VC’s vision of forever taking Cricket to ‘A device near you…’ that scored six extra runs, the total now at 17.
BALL #6: Chancellor paused and took a deep breath before pelting his last ball – a Final Fire-and-Fury Bouncer the umpire quickly ruled a ‘No Ball’; the VC having heard the umpire’s call, simply running down the pitch and virtually pelting his bat at the fired ball with a link to his hour-long trial speech on Monday, connecting hard enough to race the ball, above ground, to the boundary, touching Ground Zero right on the marked Boundary Line, leaving the umpires in in-decision over whether it was a ‘Six’ or ‘Four’…
The score either at 21 or 23, the ultimate decision was relayed to the Third Umpire in the Com-mentators’ Booth at Mona (Jamaica).
Rain clouds gathered while the ‘Third Umpires’ split hairs, The Chancellor’s Team calling for the Duckworth-Lewis raincloud yardstick to be the determining measurement and the VC’s Side claiming his chances of winning were being legally erased by the decision on the continuation of the match being postponed to a Meeting of the Selectors Board on April 30, when the VC’s cap-taincy will also accidentally come-up for review.
EDITOR’S NOTE: PART IV ON SATURDAY’S April 3 Weekend VOICE.