A wild party at a Liverpool joint!


I know that much because I was one of those nationalities in “Bongo’s crib” 12 years ago when the islanders upset England in the 2004 Champions Trophy, winning in fading light.

Before the media lunches and brainstorming sessions at watering holes around the world, I dabbled in a bit of cricket and was the overseas player for a Caribbean-heavy club from Liverpool.

As one, we all sat huddled around one TV screen that Sunday, as “holy herb” deals casually occurred in the next room, and we screamed the “Bloodfire” boys over the line.

Oh, those were the days.

The club motto seemed to be “never on time, but never a crime”.

The only member of the side who had a semblance of punctuality was an Indian doctor who played with the buttery bliss of VVS Laxman.

There was Shahid Afridi’s older brother, a popular DJ (not quite Bravo), a couple of former bouncers, a Nigerian, several Scousers and a representative of each of the West Indian islands.

Oh, those were the days.

A young Dwayne Bravo had in fact signed to be the overseas pro that season, but his national call-up scuppered that idea.

Through no fault of their own, Merseyside Commonwealth Cricket Club acquired the dubious services of a leg-spinner from Pietermaritzburg and we somehow burgled the league title the following season.

Of course, it was not straightforward and some games started and ended with our team a man or three short after a couple of players had enjoyed Friday night a little too much.

“Just roundin’ dee corner, mon,” became code for “still in bed, and unlikely to get up anytime soon”.

It was infuriating and endearing all at once, but you could never stay mad at any of them.

The rest of the team would have to pick up the slack and give the culprits an earful later.

Life was too short to wallow and some of my greatest life lessons came from those two summers in Liverpool.

Cricket is a form of expression to West Indians, a platform to entertain and release the frustrations from the working week on Saturday and Sunday.

Regardless of skill level or fitness, men and women delight in its rhythms and T20 cricket seems tailor-made for them.

For one thing, the match is only about three hours’ playing time, which slots in perfectly between last night and the party later.

Secondly, the demands of the game are such that specialists are not really required.

A cameo can make a profound impact and the “hit out or get out” takes away a lot of the anxiety.

If it’s not your day, it is bound to be someone else’s.

Ever since those summers in Liverpool, in the company of the brethren, I have always had a soft spot for the men in maroon.

The history books will frown on the outrageously talented likes of Bravo and Chris Gayle for prematurely ending fine Test careers, but both players – and their teammates – will tell you that “loyalty don’ pay da bills, mon!”

And so, while most of England hope that Eoin Morgan and his “brave cricket” disciples add to their World T20 crown of 2010, there will be a smoke-filled flat in Liverpool, bathed in maroon pride, ready for another party, and already preparing excuses for being late to work on Monday morning.

“Me just roundin’ de corner, boss…”

Yeh mon, those were the days.

– The Sunday Independent

Original source: A wild party at a Liverpool joint!