Background (Genesis: The ‘Playing Field’)
I am pleased to announce the impending launch of Intelek International’s Playing Through The Line (PTTL) international online cricket tournament.
This cerebral, COVID-19 compliant cricket project has been in development since at least March 2020, when I initiated discussion of the project with cricket lovers in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Kenya, India and the Caribbean.
But PTTL has much deeper roots. It has a much lengthier back story.
Indeed, holistic “tracking and tracing” may one day uncover and document deposits into this project’s sublime cerebral, biblically proportioned bank account that date back to the Garden of Eden!
Dalkeith Road and Rendevous Gardens
Less speculatively, PTTL can be traced to at least one community-based cricket match that I organized in the 1990s.
That match, for which I may have been the only financial backer, was between a group of youngsters living in Dalkeith Village, St Michael, Barbados, and staff at the nearby National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) headquarters, which provided the playing field.
And “in those days”, as the late Methodist minister reverend Vivian Comissiong was fond of saying, there were meetings and conversations with graphic artist Stephen Massiah, Swiss-Barbadian business woman Denise Harding and other residents of Rendevous Gardens and its environs that prefaced PTTL subliminally.
Today PTTL can be thought of as a project exploring and documenting games played at the “ground of being” (Tillich, 1957) perennially.
Staying with a more superficial, albeit metaphorical mode of diagnostic testing though, PTTL can also be seen to have benefited from direct and indirect inputs from an array of linguists, historians and other career academics affiliated with Carrington Primary School, the Barbados Community College, Norfolk, England based City College Norwich, the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of East Anglia, the University of Illinois, York University (Toronto) and similar secular science espousing entities.
And in this regard the contributions by Korah Belgrave, Martha Isaacs, Trevor Marshall, Hilary Beckles, Isaac Goodine, Viola Davis, Ikael Tafari, Ethan McCardle and others are noteworthy here.
And on the more overtly religious side of things, PTTL’s evolving incarnation has benefited from conversations and dialogues I have been pursuing with leaders and members of the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist (Norwich), The Ihsan Mosque and Islamic Centre (Norwich), the Cathedral Church of Saint Michael and All Angels (Barbados) and various other social cohesion focused interactions I have been pursuing with Spiritual Baptists, Buddhists, Jews, Greek Orthodox Christians and other groups and individuals who share my interest in cricket-like balance or fairness and related expressions of spirituality.
And PTTL has also benefited from my pursuit of this social cohesion seeking ethic in my interactions with the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Cable News Network, the Caribbean Media Corporation, Cricket Australia and a wide range of similar, formal and informal, religious and secular knowledge trading entities.
And in the interest of balance, as I have noted the helpfulness of some media houses in bringing this project to its current state of development, it would also be helpful to mention my indebtedness to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other members of the Royal Family – not least, the head of the Church of England, Her Majesty the Queen – who can attest to the unhelpful, intrusive influence of the media as well as anybody.
Mercy, mercy me!
And some familiar with my own checkered media career may know only too well that I am a beneficiary of Her Majesty’s fairness and forbearance in spheres where cricket extends, as the cricketing mystic CLR James might say, “beyond a boundary”.
On “fields of play” where others perceive limited time and space, the Royal Family’s role both within and beyond the Commonwealth, gives unique, British expression to the mystery of Godliness that the name of fabled cricketer WG Grace attests to sublimely – notwithstanding the disgrace that taints the Goliath-scoring batsman Grace’s reputation because of his notorious, Anansi-esque gamesmanship and moneymaking intrigues.
And no insult is intended to Grace or anyone else here.
My main focus is a forensic tracking and tracing of the forgiveness that I experience for my own temporal and spatial transgressions repeatedly.
First and foremost, PTTL is about mapping and measuring cricket as a human interdependence and marital complementarity mirroring mystical expression of mercy.
Rather than the boxer-like, possibly self-righteous and excessively aggressive, individualistic point scoring of boundary hitting (or a bad marriage?), PTTL is more about the co-dependent, two-batsmen-based score building that demonstrates the mustard seed science I celebrate in my song “Small Beginnings”.
It is about the “Spirit of Cricket” based sense of fair play and duty of care that I extol in my careful conversations with the Marxist-Feminist Selma James (2017, 2018).
I have come to appreciate that sense of fairness and social responsibility at a deeper level still, since assuming the role of safeguarding officer with St Andrew’s Cricket Club in Norwich last year.
With support from the English Cricket Board’s Safeguarding Team, I have a deeper revelation of how the “circle of care” extends to all spheres of life: how it is concurrent with all human fallibility and vulnerabilities.
I now have a deeper insight into how all participants in the game of life are at risk of direct or indirect aggression, exploitation and bullying, irrespective of age, gender, race, religion, class or creed.
The princely scoring West Indian batsman Brian Lara might recall one physical transgression I committed against him in the 1990s.
It happened when, as a freelance journalist with the now defunct Caribbean News Agency (CANA), I placed my recording device too close to his lips, prompting him to flash me a stare of irritation and incredulity.
“Do you mind?!” those ever sharp eyes shouted.
Fortunately I had sufficient presence of mind to reposition my device hastily.
My own sharp mind now sees that defensive action as a kind of journalistic “social distancing” retreat.
And mercifully, that brief interview proceeded without further incident or need for an apology.
The quick-minded, potentially hard-hitting, heavenly hand-eye coordinated batting marvel Lara has been known for his volatility.
I will always be grateful to him, as I am to others (including members of the Royal Family) who have not held such conscious or unconscious Rasputinian spatial transgressions against me.
And this reference to the controversial Russian Christian mystic Rasputin, a symbol of physical and spiritual resilience, brings me to one of the most exciting tributaries that extends from the banks of this PTTL cerebral cricket mainstream: the contribution it has been making over several years to neuroscience and related disciplines.
One of the reasons I am launching Intelek’s PTTL cerebral cricket project here, and in other academic spaces, is because of how it intersects with the study of consciousness and communication that I have been engaged in since at least 1982 when my own consciousness underwent something like a COVID-19 imposed quantum (leap) review and repositioning.
My poem “Communion”, written in November that year, describes how I was hit for six, in cricketing speak, as I began experiencing
“communion/ with the truth that/ embraces all truth: / intercourse,/ with the nucleus of/ reality.”
I consolidated this science and religion reconciling, truth seeking process in 2005 with my Linguistics bachelor of arts thesis.
Titled “A Voice From Heaven: Could The Study Of Glossolalia Benefit Linguistic Theory”, this study of “speaking in tongues”, as glossolalia is informally known, influences my current efforts to respond to the “communicable disease” challenges posed by COVID-19 strategically.
Indeed, I cannot help but wonder, if my call in that thesis for research into the intersection of animal and human language, based on evidence of animal and human communication “cross contamination” in the Toronto Blessing phenomenon of the 1990s was heeded, might we have avoided the trespass by human beings into animal spaces that many believe is the origin of COVID-19?
And who would have imagined that humanity, having birthed a deadly global pandemic by our intrusion into the animal kingdom, might best battle the COVID-19 animal spirits by recourse to a song birthed in a metaphorical marriage of that most civilized game cricket with the untamed elements of the Caribbean’s natural environment?
That song, entitled “Cricket In the Jungle”, was released by Guyanese musical all-rounder Dave Martins and the Tradewinds in 1981.
As Imhotep at the bat
And, as would be expected, there have been a number of very meaningful and memorable contributions by Barbadian and other West Indies cricketers – including that team’s current batting coach Floyd Reifer.
I had the distinct pleasure of bowling the all-rounder Reifer during a Sunday beach cricket session that I, Barbadian political economist Don Marshall and other Barbadians of various ideological orientations regularly frequented in the 1990s.
I am also obliged to mention former West Indies team manager Ricky Skerritt who facilitated an opportunity for me to promote my “Batsman Psalm”, when I presented a copy of it to West Indies players in 2000.
Skerritt would have facilitated a similar presentation of my “Bowlers’ Psalm” to the players some time later but unfortunately less favorable circumstances intervened.
But as methodically as my mathematical mentor Peter Farnum, I continue to build an innings like the iconic Egyptian Imhotep, an architect and social engineer of the highest degree, it is believed.
Like the Italian renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, a successor to Imhotep, at least cognitively, I continue to create and innovate for the benefit of myself and others, turning over the strike strategically.
PTTL is the latest manifestation of that commitment and determination.
Birthed in the crucible of the COVID-19 pandemic, Intelek International’s PTTL international online cricket tournament offers an array of actionable, practical responses to the devastation that this pandemic has wrought in our lives individually and collectively.
Modelled on the mental toughness and stick-to-it-iveness behind my meticulous unraveling of the approximately 1900 year-long confusion of the unwritten New Covenant with the written New Testament, I am convinced that PTTL has the capacity to reform and regenerate the deeply disrupted and traumatized world economy.
I am convinced that this cerebral, mainly cyber-space based version of the archetypal “gentleman’s game” cricket has the capacity to tame the rampant, raging COVID-19.
It has the capacity to generate the healthy, sporting good humor and composure that inspired my Cricket Psalms some twenty or so years ago.
A uniquely Caribbean creolizing of the heavenly and earthy, those Psalms remain a source of inspiration and insight to all who read them with an open mind and non-judgmental curiosity.
I close this introduction to the playful PTTL project with the first two of these psalms.
The King James Version of Psalm 23 and Psalm 1, on which these two psalms are based is also included to assist those who are not familiar with the Bible to appreciate my cricketing version’s artistry.
The Batsman’s Psalm
The Lord is my umpire,
for impartial judgement and fairness
I shall not want.
He maketh me to bat confidently on any pitch;
he leadeth me to detect elusive slow-pitched deliveries
He restoreth my run rate: he leadeth me in the path of
an excellent batting average for his name sake.
Yea, though I walk out to the crease to face the most
savage short-pitched deliveries, I shall fear no evil:
for thou art with me:
thy helmet, thigh pad and “you-know-what-box”,
they comfort me.
Thou preparest a triple-century for me in the presence
of my enemies;
thou annointest my bat with strokes;
the score board ticketh over.
Surely the most glorious straight-drives,
square-cuts, backward sweeps, pulls, and hooks
shall follow me all the innings of my career
and my name shall be a memorial at Kensington Oval, forever.
The Bowler’s Psalm
- Blessed is the bowler that doth not over-step the crease continually,
nor standeth in the way of the crossing batsmen,
nor sitteth as the twelfth man in the pavilion.
- But his delight is to bewilder batsmen with the most testing deliveries,
and on the penetration of their defenses
and their early dismissal doth he meditate day and night.
- And he shall be the pick of his team’s bowling armory
that breaketh up the most promising partnerships of rival teams,
his attacking line and length also shall not waver,
and all the traps he sets close-in or deep in the outfield shall prosper.
- The unthinking bowler is not so,
but is like the loose delivery which batsmen driveth away to the boundary.
- Therefore will the reckless bowler not sustain a healthy bowling average,
nor the indifferent bowler maintain a respectable position in the international bowling ratings.
- For the law of averages favors the way of the thinking and insightful bowler,
but the way of the unreflecting pacer or spinner is really rather silly.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.