A recent decision by the National Sports Council (NSC) to nominate Barbadian-born English cricketer Jofra Archer for the 2019 Sports Personality of the Year has sparked robust debate.
It is the country’s top sports award and many feel that the 24-year-old fast bowler has not done anything to merit being nominated.
In fact, some believe Archer’s decision to snub the West Indies in favour of playing for England should disqualify him from being nominated for the coveted award.
Others are of the view that Archer’s outstanding performances in 2019 while representing England, including leading them to the World Cup title, are enough to merit him being selected.
While there are arguments on both sides, the NSC’s decision to nominate Archer is somewhat surprising.
Archer’s story is an interesting one.
He was born here to a Barbadian mother and an English father, which allowed him to secure British citizenship.
Archer represented Barbados at the youth level, but after being overlooked for selection to the West Indies Under-19 team, he opted to devote his energies to representing England.
He relocated to England in 2015, meaning he would have had to wait until the winter of 2022 to be eligible to represent that country, as it was required at the time that cricketers live in the country for seven years before selection was possible.
However, in the months leading up to last year’s World Cup, the English Cricket Board (ECB) amended the rules. It meant that cricketers would be eligible to play for England after living in the country for three years.
Since choosing England, Archer has done very little to promote Barbados and the West Indies.
Therefore, it comes as a shock that the NSC would see the need or desire to reward him.
Interestingly enough, other international athletes who have openly and publicly expressed an interest in representing Barbados have never been nominated for the prestigious award.
Triple jump Olympic champion Christian Taylor quickly comes to mind. The now 29-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medalist was born in the United States to Barbadian parents. However, on multiple occasions, he has publicly made known his desire to represent Barbados on the world stage.
Furthermore, he has even made an attempt to do so.
In an interview with a section of the media in 2013, Taylor said: “Barbados is my roots, my blood. I wanted to represent this country before, and it is unfortunate that it didn’t work out. I don’t know all the small details that went into it, but we were trying to get dual citizenship, but I am looking at 2020.
“That’s possible; that’s the goal. I would like to compete for this country. We will do whatever we can to work on it and see who we need to see.”
Archer has made no such pronouncements.
While it is understandable why Barbadians continue to align themselves with him as a fellow Bajan, and why they continue to follow his every move in his already sterling cricketing career, it is equally mind-boggling that they equate his success to that of Barbados.
That is not to say that we should turn our backs on Archer, or deem him an outcast or public enemy number one, but the line has to be drawn.
Any person who is nominated for Barbados’ top sports award should have made an outstanding contribution to this country.
There is no need for that athlete to have been born in Barbados, once they have committed their time and effort to help develop sport on the island.
Archer is no doubt one of the brightest fast bowling talents in the world, but his focus is England and certainly not on Barbados.