40 years ago on this day, the Caribbean lost one of its greatest leaders. He was not a Prime Minister or Premier, but the first black captain of the West Indies cricket team. Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell succeeded in doing what no politician before him or since has been able to do- unite an archipelago of islands with a similar history but each with its own insular view of itself. It may not have been a political or economic union, but his achievement in bringing the region together through a beautiful game that is much more than a sport in the West Indies is unrivalled. Notwithstanding this, he was also a great batsman and a member of the legendary three Ws from Barbados. While Weekes was regarded as the best batsman of the trio and Walcott was a powerful hitter of the ball, Worrell was the poet and artist, being described as one who never made an ungrammatical stroke. Tragically, like quite a few other leaders and activists in the 1960s who challenged the status quo (Fanon, Malcolm X, MLK, Che, Lumumba), he died very young.
It was therefore fitting that the West Indies team which defeated Pakistan in the opening game of the World Cup today played like a cohesive unit instead of a bunch of disparate individuals like they have been doing so often in the past decade. While they started badly, once they had recovered, they never looked back. There were some questions over strategy but in the end everything worked out fine. Even more pleasing was that some of the players who have failed miserably to fulfil their obvious potential- Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels in particular- stepped up today and led the charge. If they continue to play like this and work on the weak areas, they can prove to be serious contenders for the Cup.