CPL and cricket are beyond the boundary

Dear Editor,
President Ali’s point that the CPL is about more than cricket has meaning at several levels. The President also implied that cricket is much more than about the game played on the field.
In his highly regarded Beyond a Boundary, the Trinidadian author CLR James narrated the deep interpenetration of cricket, class, culture, economics, and perhaps above all, the damning imbrication of the sport with race, colour, and colonialism. More than anything else, James used his literary genius to describe how the on-field game caricatured what was happening in the wider society. To boot, the intra-regional camaraderie formed on the field was reproduced in the anti-colonial struggles for national independence.
Cricket, then, has for some time now, been recognised for its transformative potential. It is in this sense that President Ali’s observation warrants further attention.
The CPL is making a major contribution to regionalism. In this case, regionalism should be understood as going beyond governance or governments. Rather, cricket is providing the opportunity for the peoples of the Caribbean to again renew their sense of sharing common history, while also facing a common set of challenges in a world system dominated by Great Powers.
If cricket is inspiring a stronger sense of constructive cultural nationalism, it is also seeping into matters of security and democracy in the Region. Security has different dimensions. Only a few months ago, Guyana hosted the Agriculture Investment Forum and Expo. This major development was followed up by corresponding events in Barbados and Trinidad. President Ali led the Guyanese delegation to both engagements. Caribbean leaders are committed to food security and are aiming to cut the Region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
In the narrower sense of security, Caribbean countries are steadfast in their support for Guyana’s territorial sovereignty. And more recently, Guyana signed the necessary protocol to join Caricom’s Regional Security System (RSS).
The solidarities found in cricket across the Region can also be found in the defence of democracy among Caribbean leaders. The case of Guyana during March-August 2020 comes to mind. Attempts by elements in GECOM to conduct election fraud during the national and regional elections in this country were met with massive resistance throughout the Caribbean. Leaders such as Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley displayed maximum Caribbean spirit in the defence of free and fair elections.
The CPL will soon conclude and there will be only one winner of the trophy for 2022. Yet, the impact of the tournament will go well beyond the trophy holder or beyond the wickets. Friendships have been renewed. New friendships have been formed. The territorial space we know as the Caribbean will be closer in cultural terms. And then, well beyond cricket, there will be long-term contributions to our security and to the defence of democratic values. Cricket and democracy have something important in common. They are both based on clearly defined rules and regulations.

Dr Randy Persaud