The West Indies topic that I chose linked up with the topics that we talked about this semester. I think the topic that most matched up with the topic I decided to talk about is in regard to race and racial identity. The West Indies Cricket team always had the burden of being the team that carried Black Pride along with Caribbean Pride as a part of their heritage and history. The Caribbean is a collection of small islands that for their modern history have almost always been controlled by a foreign power and mostly by England. Utilizing the game of Cricket, created by the British, was a way for their colonies to “get even” with them, by defeating them on the pitch and without war. The West Indies teams took great pride in this because often, the British liked to portray a superiority complex when it came to the game of Cricket. Being defeated by a colony empowered those in the colony, while striking a blow against England’s seeming superiority of their empire.
I think one article that comes to mind when I think of the British superiority complex in Cricket was the article about an American weightlifter that had toured around the world. Though not from England, the article made America look pompous and arrogant to the rest of the world as opposed to dominant and powerful. The same example could be explained with Cricket.
English cricketers would tour around the world and brag about how good they were in test matches against their colonies and former colonies. But this action annoyed or angered other nations which gave them motivation to beat England. Also, racial identity had something to do with it and there were quite a few articles this semester that talked about this. I think that the chapter/article addressing this the best was the chapter in Sports Culture in Latin American History. It talks about the racial/cultural identity in the Argentine club of Atlanta. Atlanta adopted a Jewish identity and racial demography, so much to the point that as expected, rival teams used Anti-Semitic slurs and chants towards the Atlanta players and team. This was also true with the West Indies. It is certainly different now, with England having a much more diverse team, and South Africa no longer under Apartheid, but back in the 1980’s the West Indies Cricket team was the “Black” team and they often embraced this role, playing with a “swagger” that the English and Australian sides lacked. This attitude caught on with fans and there were many fans for the West Indies during this time. With success however, came troubles. The team experienced pushback, mainly from the media, due to the team’s style of bowling. This style clashed with England West Indies bowlers were intentionally throwing at British batters in part due to a racist statement made by the team’s captain. The British media made the West Indies team seem as if they were brutal or even primal. I would say that British racism in their media is much more subtle than in the past, but it still is there. As am example, you can look at how some British media outlets talk about and publish about Black footballers vs their white counterparts. I think a prime example of this recently occured with Raheem Sterling, where news outlets like the Sun and Daily Mail have made life truly miserable for some Black and even non-black players like Wayne Rooney who have shown their disgust with British media outlets such as the Sun.
I think the last article that stuck out and can be connected to the topic of West Indies Black Identity is the article that talked about Howard University and how they were not supposed to win. The same could be said about the West Indies. The West Indies is a conglomeration of multiple Caribbean countries, and many did not think that all these countries could combine into a successful team. At the time, the white teams (England, Australia) were the dominant ones. During this time period of the 1980’s the West Indies team only lost 1 test match. They also during this same time period were dominant in ODI’s which stands for One Day Internationals. Though they were less dominant in the ODI’s than they were in test matches, they were still dominant nonetheless, with 24 wins and only 8 losses during the 1980’s. This advancement by the West Indies team allowed , I would argue, other teams like South Africa, India, and Pakistan to challenge against the prior dominance of the Aussies and English, giving success and eliminating fear.