I could not help noticing the letter by Norman Thompson in the Daily Gleaner of May 18, 2011 in which he proceeded to enlighten us on the various meanings of the word “Don” and to suggest that the uproar over Professor Beckles’ recent comments about Chris Gayle were but a storm in a teacup.
I would like him to know that the uproar was not caused simply because Professor Beckles referred to Chris Gayle as a Don. In fact if that had been the sum total of his reference, there would hardly have been an outcry. What people were reacting to was the fact that Professor Beckles proceeded to draw a parallel between Chris Gayle and Christopher “Dudus” Coke, suggesting that in the same way thatJamaicawas trying to uproot Dudus from the Jamaican society, the West Indies Board was also trying to uproot donmanship fromWest Indiescricket. Now one does not try to uproot something unless it is undesirable, like a bad tooth, so having previously classified Chris Gayle as the Don, the logical inference was that the West Indies Board was trying to uproot an undesirable Chris Gayle fromWest Indiescricket.
It should also be noted that Chris Gayle had previously expressed the view that the Board was trying to get rid of him, a view which was denied by the Board and now we have a director of the Board practically confirming the view expressed by Chris Gayle. Prof. Beckles also stated that the current crop of cricketers at the High Performance centre were not interested in emulating the likes of either Chris Gayle or Marlon Samuels, thus bringing another Jamaican player into disrepute. We also do not know if he asked every member of the group or just a select few.
Finally, what really is Gayle guilty of besides seeking to ensure that he earns remuneration commensurate with what he thinks he is worth, not only by playing cricket for the West Indies but also by plying his trade in the wider market. In fact, Professor Beckles, in the same speech stated that, no less a person than Sir Frank Worrell, took action to seek a fair reward when he refused to tourIndiain 1948/49 because he wanted to be paid as a professional. The same speech however failed to mention the Clive Lloyd led revolt which resulted in the topWest Indiescricketers joining the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket, an act of donmanship far surpassing anything Chris Gayle has yet accomplished. And in the end he criticized Gayle for turning up one day before the start of a test match because he was playing “festival cricket”, referring to the IPL in India but omitting the fact that the only reason why that happened was because the test series in which the West Indies was engaged was not originally on the West Indies calendar and Gayle had already entered into the another contractual arrangement.
It is within this context, why there has been such uproar. One thing that we do not need in public discourse is simplistic analysis and attempts to trivialize serious issues. That should be left to our Facebook page and not a national newspaper.