There are some drawbacks to being hard-headed
Many have spent a great deal of time wondering exactly what Cleveland County cricket coach Curtis Jackson was thinking as he walked out to face the fastest bowler in Bermuda without a batting helmet.
Devil’s Hole has become a veritable bastion this summer, winning cricket’s First Division, thus gaining promotion to the local version of the Premier League, while also seizing and defending the precious Eastern Counties Cup.
However, Jackson perhaps got a bit too caught up in the throes of conquest nine days ago in making the decision to take on Kamau Leverock’s lightning pace without a helmet and promptly being knocked near-senseless by one such thunderbolt to the head.
As such I, too, wonder what Jackson was thinking — if he could think at all — as he was led away to be tended to by St John Ambulance medics before being whisked off to have several staples implanted to stop the bleeding that had soaked his non-protective cap.
All sport in modern times are supposed to emphasise safety first and as coach he should not only know better, but do better, yet the message he delivered loud and clear was of recklessness cloaked in foolish bravado.
You do not have to go too far back to recall the fate that befell Australian Test batsman Philip Hughes, the fourth anniversary of whose death is two months away to the day — and he was struck by a ball nowhere the pace of what struck Jackson, while wearing a helmet!
One may not believe so from this writing, but I am a Curtis Jackson fan.
He was a player of limited talent who through hard work, perseverance, commitment and sheer guts clawed his way to stardom, achieving a regular spot in the Bermuda team, the Somerset Cup Match side, a champion Southampton Rangers outfit and, of course, Cleveland.
Still, he is a fiftysomething whose best cricket days are well behind him, and aside from hijacking a spot from a younger player, his only opportunity was to embarrass or hurt himself and proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Either get off the stage willingly and stay off, or be knocked off permanently. The good news was that Jackson could be later seen around the “Hole” with the cup atop his heavily bandaged bald head.
A day later and we were treated to another instalment of “Malachi Jones Acts The Fool”.
Many may have heard how Jones was at the centre of attention in May, when he was out first ball against St David’s and left the field, not to return, and leaving his team short-handed in a crucial match against big rivals.
If that didn’t offer a glimpse into the seemingly troubled mind of a spoilt superstar — by local standards, humour me if you may — then later came his listless performance in the first round of the Eastern Counties Cup for former champions Bailey’s Bay against Cleveland. Bay picked him despite the talented all-rounder apparently saying something to the effect that he wasn’t “feeling cricket” and didn’t want to play — this, hours before team selection.
He played exactly as one with thoughts elsewhere and Bay paid the price.
The latest episode of this brewing drama witnessed Jones once again dismissed first ball, again by St David’s, and this time he stood his ground refusing to tuck his bat away and leave the pitch until cajoled and convinced by his coach to depart.
At least this time he didn’t pack his gear and go home but stayed as his side were well beaten.
It’s easy to see this as “The Drama of a Prima Donna”, but as someone who has endured much professional counselling for my own psychological and life issues, I’m wondering if this is a cry for help from a young man who has certainly not handled stardom well and may need assistance figuring out exactly who he is.
Finally, the question remains: “Who is the Cup Match MVP?”
As stated in another opinion piece, it has now been more than three weeks since the game and an award that worldwide is tendered almost immediately after the conclusion of a match remains shrouded in mystery.
At this point, it is almost irrelevant who this mysterious group of adjudicators are that must be relying on a comprehensive report from cricket consultants before offering judgment. After all, this is a significant individual award and deserving of much more deliberation than the fielding award that went to Allan Douglas Jr and the sportsmanship prize that was given to Steven Bremar Jr.
Here’s my pick and the rationale for it; it’s simple. First of all, a Somerset player must get it. Terryn Fray and Stephen Outerbridge cancel out each other, as both were out in the nineties, leaving Dion Stovell, who took crucial wickets in both innings and was inspirational in the field, as the winner.
As for rumoured contender Onias Bascome, he gets special mention.
Until we meet again.
• Patrick Bean is a former sports reporter at The Royal Gazette