Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Earland Morgan | Tallawahs homesick

Published:Wednesday | August 22, 2018 | 9:27 AM

"A king (prophet) hath no honour in his own country." (St John 4:44) This scripture verse is quoted regularly by persons who feel isolated. This verse is in reference to an interview by the Jamaica Tallawahs cricket captain Andre Russell, who bemoaned the fact that the team felt as strangers on their home turf in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League.

The Jamaica Tallawahs made the decision this year to host three of the five home games in Florida, as the owners reside in Florida and it's a way to expand cricket among the huge diaspora in that area.

But I felt sorry for Mr Russell when I listened to the interview, as he stated that most of the spectators were cheering for the Guyana Amazon Warriors and that the team felt intimidated. These factors contributed to their loss, he suggested. That was supposed to be a home game for the Tallawahs, but they felt intimidated. Something is wrong with this picture.

It has been proven so many times that sporting teams look forward to their home games. They tend to do better on their home court for various reasons:

1. They are familiar with the conditions.

2. The crowd support.

3. They just feel excited to be at home. Each team, no matter how weak it is, feels unconquerable when its players are at home. In the NBA, the team that has home-court advantage normally wins. It happens in the international football leagues, cricket leagues, baseball leagues, etc. Teams strategise based on the number of home games they have available.

The Jamaica Tallawahs played their first two home games in Jamaica and won them easily. The team looked relaxed, focused, and they were charged with that energy feeding off the crowd support. Now in Florida (so-called home turf), they have lost both games so far. The fact of the matter is that both teams are foreign to this venue and are starting on the same level (In this case, the Guyana Amazon Warriors seem to have a slight advantage). This should not be the case, as the home team should have absolute advantage.

Sports is big business, and the Caribbean Premier League is big business. These franchises have an obligation to their stakeholders to deliver to the bottom line. This franchise can possibly schedule all of its home games next season for Florida if it seems fit. If that happens, I would be so disappointed as a fan, and the team would now feel like a foreign side. The CEO of the team, Jefferson Miller, has stated that this will not happen. (I am praying that it doesn't).

Even in the just-concluded series between the West Indies and Bangladesh in Florida (the home turf for the West Indies), a lot of the support was for the Bangladesh team, from what I observed.

In closing, I am not saying that the Jamaica Tallawahs could not have lost those games in Jamaica, but with the crowd support and being on home turf, they definitely would not have felt intimidated. The other side of the coin is that in promoting the brand ( which is important) and the profitability (which is also important) these losses might have put a dent in the team's chances. Only time will tell.

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