Over the past six years, my political party, the Peoples Empowerment Party, has been making every effort to encourage and catalyse a national campaign to rejuvenate the interlinked institutions of Barbados and West Indies cricket.
Our party has made this effort simply because we are conscious of the centrality of the game of cricket to the national culture and psyche of Barbados, and also because we recognise the crucial role that cricket plays in holding together and developing a collective sense of West Indian nationhood.
And as we contemplated the difficult road that the game of cricket now has to traverse in the Caribbean if it is to make the steep climb back up to the glory days of the 1970s and ’80s, one of the young cricketers that gave us great hope for the future was Barbados’ very own Kevin Stoute.
As far back as the year 2006, our party discerned in young Kevin Stoute a love of and commitment to the game of cricket — to its traditions, history, technique and discipline — that was reminiscent of the old Barbadian greats. Indeed, we were so impressed with Kevin that we readily agreed to sponsor a young tape ball cricket team that was put together and captained by Kevin! Hence the birth in 2006 of the “Peoples Empowerment Party” team which played in the Belfield 20/20 out-of-season tape ball competition under the captaincy of Kevin Stoute, and which included such rising young stars as Javon Searles and Martin Nurse.
It is because of this history and background that we in the PEP believe that we are entitled to publicly speak out against the unjust and obstructionist treatment that has been meted out to Kevin Stoute.
How could any Barbados cricket selector in his or her right mind refuse to include Kevin Stoute in our national 20:20 squad? Not only was Kevin awarded the title of Barbados’ most outstanding 20:20 cricketer in the year 2011, but he is currently the leading run scorer in the local 2012 competition, and actually has a batting average of over 40 runs per innings in regional 20:20 games for Barbados!
Furthermore, Kevin is blessed, in abundance, with all of the talents that one would want in a cricketer playing 20/20 cricket. Not only is he a technically correct, fluid batsman, but he is also a tight, attacking medium pace bowler and an immaculate fielder. And this is not just the opinion of the PEP!
Indeed, the International Cricket Council has placed Kevin’s bowling performance of 8 wickets for 52 runs against Lancashire as No. 9 on the all time list of “one day” cricket performances, and Kevin’s first class “one day” batting average is 44 runs per innings!
Kevin Stoute (under the enlightened mentorship of his father, Richard Stoute) is a product of the finest traditions of Barbados and West Indies cricket: he was nurtured in the Ellerslie School cricket culture; was coached by Sir Everton Weekes, Darnley Boxhill and Richard Straker; was vice captain of the Barbados youth team; has played all grades of community level cricket in Barbados; secured a contract for himself to the Lancashire League; plays club cricket in Trinidad; has attained a Grade 1 coaching certificate; and the list goes on.
If the powers that be cannot find a place for a cricketer like Kevin Stoute in the Barbados national team, then we might as well shut down the new Cricket Academy, abandon all the developmental programmes, and forget about ever recapturing the glory days of West Indies cricket!