Sir Hilary says 'don' comments misunderstood

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – UWI Cave Hill principal Sir Hilary Beckles has defended his comments characterizing Chris Gayle as a “don”, contending he was merely outlining a public perception that existed.

Sir Hilary was slammed by the West Indies Players Union over the comments, with the players union calling for his resignation as a West Indies Cricket Board director and for UWI to launch an investigation.

The Caribbean intellectual said his comments, made during a lecture in St Kitts, had been an “assessment of the public images that surround some of our former captains from Sir Frank Worrell to present.”

“I stated clearly that ‘these are the images before us’. At no time did I say that I believe these images to be true,” the Nation newspaper quoted Sir Hilary as saying in a statement.

“I insisted, however, as a social scientist that I have a duty to analyze these images, how they are constructed and how society reacts to them.

“I know that Sir Garry Sobers is not a king, Sir Vivian Richards a general, Brian Lara a prince or Chris Gayle a don because they are all fine professional cricketers whom I admire, but these metaphoric images are based on public observations and perception.”

Speaking on the topic “Frank Worrell: The Rise And Fall Of West Indies Cricket”, Sir Hilary said: “Frank Worrell is the Father of the Nation, Sobers is the King of Cricket, Clive Lloyd is the Statesman, Richards is the General of the Army, Brian Lara is the Prince, and Chris Gayle is the Don.”

“And these are very interesting images indeed because the movement from the father to the Don and, and those who follow him and his cohort in the team do relate to him as their Don, and he has brought it is said, the Don-manship into how ‘tings’ operate in the team.

“and what the West Indies Board is trying to do at the moment is to uproot this Don-manship out of the culture in much the same way that the Jamaican people are trying to uproot Dudus from their politics ... the comparisons are very interesting indeed.”

WIPA blasted the comparison with the alleged Jamaican crime boss Christopher “Dudus” Coke and said it had lost confidence in the UWI head.

Sir Hilary said, however, he actually admired Gayle who he considered an “amazing cricketer”, and expressed disappointment that his comments had been “unethically edited and its contents manipulated to achieve an unpleasant special purpose”.

“It saddens me that this manipulation and abuse of my academic work to meet ends clearly not intended are obviously designed to distract from the task at hand – that is, diagnosing the crisis in West Indies cricket and developing policies to fix it; also, seeking to assess how we as West Indians will treat with the issue of our cricketers rejecting the West Indies cricket team,” he said.