Will Gravy make a comeback now cricket is back at the Rec?
After the farcical scenes on Friday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, where play in the West Indies v England test was abandoned after just ten balls, the authorities pulled out the stops to get the Antigua Recreation Ground fit for a hastily re-arranged test on Sunday.
While embarrassed that the unloved ‘ Sir Viv’ stadium was unable to put on a game, most locals were delighted at the chance to see international cricket back at the traditional home of Antiguan cricket.
I’ve heard so much about cricket at the ‘Rec’, the atmosphere, the intimacy of a small ground in the centre of the capital, as opposed to the concrete modernity of the new venue built out in the middle of nowhere. I had read the obituaries written at the time of the World Cup, lamenting the departure of the old venue next to the prison and a church, and I was looking forward to the chance to see a test at a venue where most thought we would never see international cricket again.
The game went ahead, on a good first day batting track, Andrew Strauss struck a fine 169 as England made 301-3 at the close. It was a nice day’s cricket but sadly not the authentic Caribbean experience that so many recall. The crowd was at least 80 percent English with just pockets of local support. The lager, not the rum, was flowing, burgers and hot dogs were being grilled – and Gravy didn’t dance around the outfield.
The antics of a garishly dressed Gravy, the colourful eccentric cricket lover, who earns his living selling trinkets at a taxi stand in Market Street St.John’s, was an essential part of a test at the Rec but he went into retirement in 2000 – marking the occasion by strolling onto the field in a white wedding dress. Gravy hated the new stadium and had a grin on his face as the ground was prepared for a West Indies v England game once again.
Click above for an interview with one of the game’s real characters where he talks about his past and the chances of a surprise comeback…