A little over a month ago we were contacted through Facebook
by Rav about her “cricket-crazy” husband, Tej. They were coming to stay at Sugar Ridge on holiday and wanted to donate bats, pads, gloves, whites, shoes and socks to a kids cricket team while on their holiday in Antigua. We knew just who to speak to.
Javy Benjamin (Kenny's son and future star, far right) and the U13 "fielders"
Kenny is also President of the Liberta Sports Club and it is no coincidence that they have the most organised and active youth cricket program in Antigua. So yesterday afternoon, I took Tej and Rav down to the club’s scenic cricket ground overlooking Falmouth Harbour. Most days the senior team meet here for a practice net. Yesterday was no exception. Kenny was on hand to meet us. He was as amused as we were bewildered that, impossibly, we had driven around the huge pitch without seeing it! For some, his big laugh and joking manner may disguise his continued dedication to cricket. But then, it is meant to be fun!
Yesterday many of the U13 players had turned out to receive the donation (2 suitcases in all), which was made by Rav to the Under 13s captain Karima Gore. However, Kenny had other plans for the boys. Today was not going to be a ‘net’, it was to be a practice session in the middle and they were to be the fielders. What’s more, Tej and I were invited to join the session and receive guidance from the coach ”Polo” Cornwall, who himself was a Captain of the Leeward Islands in his day.
Tej had no hesitation in padding up to face some seriously fast bowling from some of Antigua’s finest, while I chickened out and headed off to the boundary at Long On. He partnered Kadeem Phillip, who represents Antigua and the Leeward Islands, in an unbeaten stand of 90 runs thanks to some big hitting and some poor catching from yours truly who dropped Tej on 38. It seems that Long On was not far enough away!
Kenny got into the action with a display of bowling in flip flops, and was deservedly hit for many boundaries. Tej and I joined the fray, and while Tej proved that he is a quality all rounder, I outwitted the batsmen by bowling the ball of of their reach! As the light faded, and before the session descended into total farce, we thanked Kenny and the boys and slipped off, letting them get back to the serious business of putting West Indies cricket back where it was when Kenny was playing.
But with Kenny the fun is never over. In recognition of our earlier difficulties locating the ground he reminded us to turn left out the ground to get back to the main road. Everybody laughed. We headed back to Sugar Ridge with big smiles and excited chatter, knowing we had had a special day. Thank you, Tej and Rav, for making this possible.