Thu | Oct 17, 2019

Paul Wright | Sour summer of sports

Published:Tuesday | September 17, 2019 | 12:19 AM
Members of the Jamaica Tallawahs celebrate the dismissal of a Barbados Trident wicket during their Caribbean Premier League cricket match at Sabina Park on Sunday, September 15.

There is a Chinese curse that translates to “May you live in interesting times.”

I am sure that the Chinese have not cursed us, but when it comes to sports in Jamaica during the summer, we are indeed “living in interesting times.” The unbelievable continued slide into the abyss of failure by the much-vaunted Jamaica Tallawahs in the current Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign has proven that the fortunes of sports are, indeed, a sine curve.

When you are up, winning and on top of the world, be very aware that the slide to the bottom of the standings is inevitable. Once the slide is recognised, however, there must be analyses and changes to the status quo in order to lift up the group or individuals from defeat.

In team sports, the coach/manager is usually the first one to be placed under the microscope as the search for the reason behind the multiple failures begins. The coach of the Jamaica Tallawahs has to date offered no reasonable explanation for the train wreck that is the 2019 Tallawahs. I do believe that he knows that his time in charge is rapidly coming to an end, so I hope that he doesn’t do the usual by throwing players who are obviously not pulling their weight under the bus.

The bowling unit of the Tallawahs is the worst bowling unit ever assembled for a T20 tournament.

Our chief bowler, Jerome Taylor, has demonstrated that his time should now be spent on the political hustings, and, maybe, giving back to Jamaican cricket his time and expertise in helping young fast bowlers to make the transition from domestic league cricket to International cricket. I have long postulated that the under-15, under-17 and under-19 cricketers in the island must be identified, coached and mentored as they move from domestic to international cricket. This is where Jerome Taylor may be of assistance. Certainly, bowling in the CPL competition is definitely not an option, and he should be put out of his obvious misery as soon as possible. It is just not fair to him.

His legacy as a fast bowler of some repute should not be subjected to what is happening to him this year. The other bowlers are not blameless in any way. Oshane Thomas needs to understand that there is thought behind the success of all great fast bowlers. Running up and bowling at speed is not the answer when facing modern, thinking batsmen. Bowlers of merit think when running up to bowl.

Issue of substances

Change is inevitable when the team for the other games are considered. But it has to be swift and sure and not looking and waiting for potential cricketers to come good. In other sports, the vexed issue of the use of banned substances continue to plague the sanctity of sports.

The news of the three missed tests of Trinidadian sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye and the upcoming trial of our young sprint sensation, Briana Williams, are in the news. It is known that sporting organisations loathe the news of positive test results when stars are accused. The Russia and Kenya scandals where positives were hidden or winked at is now a part of the sordid history of sports.

The exoneration of one of the leading sprinters from the United States, Christian Coleman, who was accused of missing three drug tests in 12 months is a case in point. The governing body has ruled that the timing of the 12-month period peculiarly, does not start from the time of the first missed test, but from the time when the testing period starts. Thus the sprinter and favourite for the 100-metre race in the World Championships will be there, running.

Similarly here in Jamaica, the news of our national junior sprint sensation testing positive drew comments of “certain” exoneration from officials not involved in the hearing of the case. Further her selection to the team before the case is heard seems to send a strong signal to the panel hearing the case, that “you know what is expected”. The Kent Gammon led tribunal has proven integrity on their side, but why put so much public pressure on the group? An expectant nation dares not exhale until the hearing is over.

In the USA, word has surfaced that Justify, last year’s Triple Crown champion had tested positive for a banned substance before the running of the first leg of the Triple Crown, but the news only surfaced this year. In April of last year Justify was a 12-1 outsider going into the Santa Anita Derby, a qualifier for the Triple Crown.

After winning the race a drug test revealed the presence of the banned substance Scopolamine. The level of this drug in the horse were far above the allowable threshold. Scopolamine has been implicated as a contaminant of feed, being found in Jimson weed, which grows wild in California. The excuse by representatives of the horse have identified this method of contamination as the reason for the positive test.

However, an unnamed vet familiar with the case has postulated that the levels of Scopolamine found in the horse suggests “intentional intervention”.

Positive results

The positive result was identified on the April 18, and the trainer the legendary Bob Baffert was informed on the April 26. As is customary, a B sample test was requested and this was done on the May 1. The confirmation reported on May 7. It wasn’t until the August 23 last year that the hearing was held, after the horse had won the Triple Crown.

The chairman of the tribunal that heard the case was Chuck Winner, a man reported to have shares in Baffert-trained horses. The committee that held the hearing voted to effectively forget that the horse tested positive. Interestingly, the horse should have been disqualified from the Santa Anita Derby whether or not the feed was contaminated. The horse ran with the substance in its body.

It is important to remember that if Justify was disqualified from the Santa Anita Derby, the horse would not have qualified for the Triple Crown!

Once again the sport stars, those who the public want to see and will pay to watch, seem to have a free pass whenever a rule violation or transgression is found. Yet we all yearn for a “level playing field”.