Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Tip of the Spear

As should be obvious from my current Blogger profile image, I am a cricket fan.

I haven't been one long. Gi espiritu, ya-hu cricket desde hu egga’ Lagaan, noskuantos na sakkan tåtte na tiempo. Lao gi minagahet, kasi un sakkan ha’maloffan desde hu tutuhun ya-hu manegga’.

I've been reading plenty of articles, scorecards and watching what few matches I can find on youtube or google video, and slowly I'm becoming more and more of a hardcore fan. One of the first sites I visit kada ogga'an yan kada puengge when I turn on my computer is, to find out what the results are for the latest ODI, Test or Twenty20 matches. Unfortunately, over the summer, there wasn't much activity save for the Test and ODI matches between India and England. Which were very exciting in their own right, but hardly enough for a new fan to satisfy their appetite.
India is my favorite team right now, even if they aren't the best, they are still an amazing collection of powerful players. They are so amazing, that one of them The Sachin Tendulkar, even has a comic book character modelled after him. The Master Blaster.
My least favorite team, just happens to be the team on top of the world right now, Australia, which won the 2007 World Cup, and whose captain Ricky Ponting, was recently awarded both Player and Captain of the Year Awards. As an ethnic studies scholar, it is also important for me to make the crude, potentially meaningful, potentially meaningless assessment that in addition to being one of best cricket teams in the world, they are also probably the whitest, i mas apa'ka.
(Seeing the ways in which Australians create their identity around their position as a a global sports nation, and not just in cricket, has definitely helped me better understand the art of both governmental national building, but even the everyday forms that people in both fanatical and subtle ways made tangible)
I was able to watch live the World Cup series in the Carribean a few months ago, where both Pakistan and India (i dos na mas maegga' na inetnon) got destroyed early on and were knocked out in the first round, leaving a vague sadness and shadow of possible irrelevance over the remaining matches. Both India and Pakistan had surprise upset losses against teams considered to be marginal and longshots, Bangladesh and Scotland. Australia went through the entire tournament undefeated, and ended up facing off in the finals a team which had struggled throughout the World Cup, but had nonetheless dominated in their own right, Sri Lanka. The Final was an unimpressive and shaky one, because rain overshadowed the entire game, delaying it for hours and eventually shortening the initial alloted number of maximum overs, and then further shortening the amount of overs Sri Lanka would get to chase the Australian total.

Australia had been fortunate enough to finish their overs with little delay or interference from the weather, but such was not the case for Sri Lanka. I remember watching with a heavy heart, as the rain approached, visibility was already becoming poor and it looked as if the game would be called with Australia the winner, Sanath Jayasuriya desperately try to bring the run rate of his team up, and in the process was completely clean bowled.

For most people I know my liking for cricket is a strange and peculiar thing. First I am a citizen of the wrong empire in order to enjoy cricket, I am after all not a citizen of the empire of formerly British colonies, but instead a citizen of one of America's current colonies, the tip of its military spear in the Pacific, Guam. Second, I am an indigenous rights activist, and someone very much into decolonization, and so shouldn't I be more into "native games" or games which aren't so colonial? I mean, for crying out loud, in Test cricket, everyone, even the brown and black people teams were the same na'makaka' na white uniforms. Shouldn't I, as a "brown power" person, be more interested in mas natibu games such as gilli danda or daggao and acho' atupat target practice?

Perhaps, although as I often discuss on this blog, notions of cultural purity or appropriateness are rarely something I care about. Discussions of which foods are really Chamorro, or which dances are really Chamorro, to me are useless, wastes of time and the simple and stupid ways that colonization happens right before your eyes, with you taking the role of the colonizer. To engage in those discussions, too often means accepting someone else's assumptions or rules about what is and is not yours, what is yours to accept or use appropriately or in ethnically authentic ways. If we follow these logics, then we come up with the dumbest thinking and assumptions about how we are supposed to exist and live.

I am always interested in challenging these sorts of assumptions in whatever way I can. For instance on my blog I enjoy talking about Bollywood movies in the Chamorro language, a thing which few people would consider, or even believe possible. For most what Chamorro language can and cannot do is very narrow and limited. It is used to speak of only a few things, and only used in a few of lifes spaces. But the vitality of a language depends upon its ability to be used beyond what its "supposed" to describe or the experiences it is supposed to come from. If for instance we feel we can't use Chamorro to describe technological things or "new" and "modern" things whether it be democracy, feminism or myspace, then we are killing the language, by trapping it, by containing it, by refusing to stretch it past its perceived limits and allow it to grow and colonize the rest of the world's ideas and objects.

My newfound addiction of cricket, I feel serves a similar purpose, beyond my simple enjoyment of it. There is, one more reason that I'm particularly enamored with cricket this week, that all from Guam or from small barely visible locales can relate to.

A few days ago, the Twenty20 World Cup began in South Africa, where the matches instead of being 50 overs are un gof chaddek na 20 overs, meaning the scores are lower, but matches are much shorter. Although I can't watch it on TV or online, it has been action-packed so far. The opening of the tournament featured a monster match between South Africa and West Indies, where Chris Gayle started it off with a monster 117 (off of 57 balls), and Herschelle Gibbs responded by a 90 (off of 55 balls), to lead South Africa to victory.

So far, the true excitement of the tourney has been i manggkahulo'n i dikike na guihan siha, or "the rise of the minows," the emergence of once dubious and taisuette teams as possible contenders due to the shortened and quickened format. Yes, yes, there have been the usual wins and the usual losses, for instance as I'm typing a match between Kenya and Sri Lanka is just wrapping up, a record setting match. With 260 in the first inning, Sri Lanki has set a record for the highest run score in Twenty20 cricket. Kenya struggled to chase down the massive score, but eventually lost the match by 172 runs.

But there have been a couple of exciting suprises and upsets. First, Bangladesh triumphed over the West Indies, making them one of the first teams to be eliminated from play. And second, in the 4th match of the tournament, in an absolute shocking upset, Zimbabwe beat Australia. The match itself was an absolute nail biter, with Zimbabwe chasing, and only winning it with one ball remaining!

Watching matches like this, where the mighty are toppled and brought down by those whom the world assumes have nothing or are capable of nothing, gives me some small shreds of hope for the world, and hope for those of us from places such as Guam, who are told repeatedly that we are worth little, worth nothing, except as the tip of someone else's spear. We are taught and we eventually accept as our own truths that we have nothing and can do nothing, but wait for those that are better to recognize us, to help us up and along. Although it is simply a sport's win, and could be interpreted as nothing more, I nonetheless find some inspiration to see the world set on its head in international cricket, so that I may continue to dream that we may one day see ourselves on Guam, as so much more than simply the tip of America's spear.

1 comment:

Angie said...

I can relate, I am a closet anglophile and my knowledge of cricket is mostly from India/n novels, I adore Vikram Seth.

Also appreciate as always your clear thoughts on authenticity.

I missed you!


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