It shouldn’t have happened.
The embarrassment which cricketing icon Desmond Haynes reportedly endured at Kensington Oval last Sunday was not only avoidable, it is also unforgivable.
We do not make light of security officers or other operational agents providing safe, orderly conditions at sporting or entertainment venues for the benefit of all patrons, but we are also mindful of the necessity for proper systems to be in place to ensure that the due respect which some in our society by dint of their service command, is always accorded them.
That Haynes is not the average visitor to Kensington Oval is an established and indisputable fact. His name adorns one of the stands for a reason. Haynes and all those others whose names shout from the stands have a special pride of place at the facility, and this ought to have been communicated across the board for the uninitiated, and from the edifice’s inception.
We do not know whether this is part of the routine at The Oval, but all security and operational personnel, before major cricketing or other events, should be briefed and debriefed on all aspects of what is likely to occur during their tour of duty. The use of discretion ought to be high on the list of instructions, especially when it involves visiting dignitaries.
Some will state that rules are rules; and we agree. But slavish adherence to rules –– not laws –– should not take precedence over the use of commonsense and discretion. Ignoring rules and breaking laws have led to the dismantling of segregation and apartheid, and the like. But we digress.
The cricketing icon indicated that following his embarrassment he advised the offending personnel that National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers was also scheduled to attend and implored them that every effort should be made to ensure he was shown all respect –– just in the event the living legend might not have been in compliance with some admission requirement.
When did we arrive at this juncture? The point is that the administrators of Kensington Oval, if they have not yet done so, must, whether through training of staff or issuance of all-encompassing admission accreditation to our cricketing icons, let it go forth that though all men might be created equal, some are more equal than others. It is the way of the world.
It is the reason why a retired Barbadian Prime Minister should be allowed to visit our Parliament without the necessity of donning a visitor’s tag; it is the reason why every security and operational officer working at the Eric Holder Junior Municipal Complex should at least have an idea what Eric Holder looks like; it is the reason why Sir Garfield Sobers should not be made to wait in a queue to gain admittance to the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex at Wildey.
Unfortunately, there is often a reluctance in small societies like ours to afford courtesies to people who originate from among us and, we daresay, look like us. There is more a willingness to knock the head off the bust of a national treasure in Sir Everton Weekes, than to take a piece of rag and remove dust from it. But we do ourselves a great disservice when we hide conveniently behind written or unwritten rules in situations where in the absence of a security threat or an operational hindrance, we allow lack of discretion to lead to emotional hurt.
We do not agree that Desmond Haynes should have his name removed from its place of honour at Kensington Oval. His place among our pantheon of cricketing heroes has already been established and cannot be diminished. This hurt, we believe, will pass. We must ensure that it doesn’t happen again.