Cricket isn’t good with rebels.
It wasn’t set up for people to challenge the establishment.
It has historically been run and played by middle aged, middle class white blokes who speak English and are used to getting their own way.
Your role as a player is to be seen and not heard. Like a child at the dinner table of a middle class white English speaking house.
But the world never stays the same very long, and it has a natural tendency to push back against class systems based on self interest.
If there was ever going to be a bunch of rebellious cricketers, the West Indies is the place where they ought to come from.
For since the collapse of their Test match dominance in the 80’s, these misfits from a collection of 15 independent countries and principalities have struggled for recognition, structure and respect from those that govern them.
They have tried the traditional unionised ways to break this nexus.
Sunil Narine chose to play the IPL final instead of representing his country in a Test series against New Zealand.
There was the establishment of the West Indies Players Association to help bargain for better deals. It has been a disaster.
Most famously, the players went on strike during a tour of India.
But none of these helped bring respect or riches to the players. In fact, in many instances, these actions drew the ire of the cricket fan.
They were viewed as cocky, ungrateful and self absorbed.
Then the West Indies players changed tack.
They used their personality and flair to engage with the audience.
Chris Gayle worked his womanising.
Dre Russ created a pseudonym for himself, missing three drug tests along the way.
Dwayne Bravo wrote a song that the team decided would be their new unofficial anthem and you want as your ring tone.
Marlon Samuels publicly called out Shane Warne. Darren Sammy did the same with Mark Nicholas.
At the fall of wickets they saluted, stood still in wonderment or danced.
They celebrated with their women colleagues.
They marketed the hell out of themselves.
Then they won an ICC men’s event in ridiculous circumstances. They won a women’s event that same day. Months earlier, they won the Under 19 World Cup.
The traditional white middle class standards did not apply. They did not care for what cricket expected them to do. They behaved their own way.
And the people loved them for it. Like the goody goody school girl falling for the tattooed bikie.
It is hard to imagine other countries pulling this off.
Would Dhoni speak ill against the BCCI?
Would Steven Smith and his team run on to the field and celebrate with the Southern Stars?
Would Umar Akmal release a pop song?
Would Trent Boult ever go on strike?
Would Hashim Amla choose the IPL over South Africa?
But anything is possible when the West Indies are involved. They move to the beat of their drum, not yours.
And secretly, we all get excited about a rebel.
Especially one that is winning.
Feature image source: AFP