Thu | Jun 24, 2021

What pushed Ramdin's buttons?

Published:Friday | June 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Orville Higgins
West Indies' Denesh Ramdin holds up a note directed at Sir Viv Richards after reaching his 100 during the fourth day of the third Test match against England at Edgbaston cricket ground recently. - AP
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By Orville Higgins

Denesh Ramdin's angry, paper-waving exploits against the legendary Sir Viv Richards in the final Test against England recently has created ripples throughout the Caribbean, and is indeed one of the most-talked-about cricket happenings in the last week.

I consider Ramdin's act childish, churlish and completely uncalled for. After hauling Ramdin over the coals, however, I think we should try to understand his behaviour, which is not the same thing as trying to justify or endorse it.

Nobody, maybe not even Ramdin himself, expected this. The fact is that what he did was completely out of character for the mild-mannered Trinidadian. Ever since his days as captain of the West Indies youth team, he has been seen as a model professional.

When we see people displaying behaviour that is so alien to their character, even though we must condemn the act, we must ask why. What is it that could have caused this about-turn in his otherwise calm demeanour?

Let's face it. Ramdin has been criticised by media people before. He would have been pilloried in the press for his lack of performance before. During this series in England, Sir Viv wouldn't have been the only one in the press box who came down hard on him. So why react to Sir Viv?

Touched a nerve

The question that must be asked - and I don't hear too many people asking it - is this: What is it about Sir Viv's comments, in particular, that made Ramdin feel more hurt than the criticism of anyone else he has had to endure all throughout his career?

Only Ramdin himself truly knows the answer to that, but there are some antecedents that could help us to understand what is at play here.

Viv Richards is no ordinary cricketer, partly because he was no ordinary man. During his time as captain, the 'Master Blaster' hated losing, and was known to come down hard on his own players when he thought they were not pulling their weight. In chiding them, he could be brutal with his words.

He virtually admitted, in his autobiography, that sometimes as captain, he could be excessively harsh on people. He was much the same during his short stint as coach, and he is not much different as a cricket analyst.

Acerbic comments

Sir Viv's words will hurt because sometimes you get the feeling that he is not merely questioning your ability to bat, bowl and field. Sometimes, he seems to be degrading you as a man. Saying Ramdin looks like "a totally lost guy" isn't purely a criticism on his cricket.

This may not be the intent, but with that haughty demeanour, Sir Viv can rub you the wrong way. That cocky swagger made bowlers nervous, and that arrogant persona in a press box analysing sportsmen can hurt!

Maybe Ramdin was too thin-skinned, but maybe the great Viv Richards needs to understand that, as a commentator, he may have to be a bit more tactful in commentary than when he was the czar and captain of an all-conquering team.

Hopefully, both Ramdin and Sir Viv himself can learn from the experience.

Orville Higgins is the 2011 winner of the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Reporting. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.