CUP MATCH AND COMMONSENSE

 

I was astounded by the news that the Bermuda Cricket Board of Control and the Somerset and St George’s Cricket Clubs were again seeking permission to bring in foreign Umpires for Bermuda’s annual Cup Match. I recalled their display of utter stupidity and crass ignorance at last year’s Cup Match.

If you’ve forgotten, here’s how I ended my August 2006 comment on their 2006 stupidity: “The Cup Match Umpire decision is similar to this situation. ‘A Bermudian man carefully woos and wins a beautiful Bermudian woman and marries her. When the time comes to start a family, he plays his Bermudian part by hiring a foreigner to do the work of copulation. The Bermudian man then strides about, nine months later, and lays great claim to his manhood'”.

Twelve months later, I feel even more strongly about it.

Cup Match is not a regular cricket game that is sanctioned – or even needs the sanction – of any international cricket body. Cup Match is a unique Bermudian celebration of a major event in the history of all Bermuda. Particularly, Cup Match is a unique celebration of a major event in the lives of black Bermudians.

Cup Match grew out of the celebration of the 1st August 1834 Emancipation of slaves. The next year, on 1st August 1835, throughout Bermuda, ex-slaves took the day off work and gathered and celebrated. They picnicked, partied, played games. From 1835 down to 1946, black Bermudian ex-slaves and their descendants – our great-grandparents, our grandparents, our parents – took that day off and celebrated. They took the day off – without employer sanction and without pay – to celebrate their freedom.

In 1902, the habit of playing separate inter-parish, inter-club, inter-lodge games crystallized into a single event. That event was a cricket match played between cricketers from Bermuda’s east end who got together to play a team made up of cricketers from Bermuda’s west end. The sponsor clubs were St George’s and Somerset Cricket Clubs.

The focus of the Emancipation Day celebration became the inter-club Cup Match.

Starting out, the game always took place on 1st August of every year. Game day changed only if the 1st August fell on a Sunday.

Not until 1946, a century and two overs later, did Bermuda’s ruling oligarchy agree to make the day a public holiday, and legislated a change in the days of play. Since 1946, Cup Match has been a two day public holiday. However, it remains a public holiday with the unchangeable history that I’ve just described.

The tradition of Cup Match is a part of Bermuda’s ‘black history’ and ‘black heritage’. There are often cries – loud cries from some black Bermudians – that not enough black history is taught, is being taught, or has been taught. Despite any such suggestion, this particular segment of Bermuda’s history – black history at that – is well known by members of every Bermudian family. This black history is a part of the DNA of every Bermudian who has ever enjoyed a Cup Match holiday.

Cup Match is not a ‘cricket game’ in the same sense as the games played by Bermuda’s national cricket team in the recently completed WCC tournament. Nor is it a cricket game in the same way that the County Cup games are cricket games; or the games in the current Test Matches between India and the UK.

Instead, Cup Match is a unique Bermudian celebration that happens to be played out as a cricket game between Somerset and St George’s Cricket Clubs. Cricket is merely the celebratory mechanism.

Having a foreigner officiate at Cup Match debases part of our unique Bermudian heritage. It would be a display of massive stupidity and crass ignorance on the part of the men (and women if they’re involved) who are responsible for organizing the 2007 Cup Match. It is akin to Americans inviting Brits to take over their 4th July celebrations.

If Cup Match 2007 is officiated by foreigners, then all concerned – from Work Permit issuers down to foreigner-seeking Clubs – will have displayed a complete and abysmal ignorance of, and disdain for, their own unique Bermudian heritage.

Further, these black – and they are all black – Bermudian Cup Match decision-makers are self-damaging and self-degrading their own unique Bermudian blackness, black history, black traditions, and black heritage. There is no white hand in this at all. This would be a pure display – a second successive display – of purely black Bermudian ignorance and stupidity.

If foreigners officiate – I won’t even listen to the game!

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