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International flavour is leaving a bad taste.

Byline: By Peter Collins South Wales Echo

The lovely lady at the pub warned me that I couldn't have it for long. My pleasure and enjoyment would last for about an hour, but no longer.

Although disappointed, I decided to take what I could get. After all, beggars can't be choosers and for those of us who do not have Sky Sports at home, watching our favourite games in the pub is the next best option.

I had gone to the pub to watch England play South Africa in the Cricket World Cup. Arriving at 6.30pm, the lady told me that I could watch it until 7.30pm when the channel would be changed to the coverage of some silly soccer match involving Manchester United.

Football, she intoned, always took precedence over cricket. Little wonder, I thought irascibly, that this country is going to the dogs.

In the end, it mattered little. Sitting on the sofa with my pint of Cornish ale (which happily seems to have been introduced at several pubs in the Vale) and a packet of peanuts, the cricket was effectively over by 7.30pm with England going down to embarrassing defeat.

Still, it had been good to see pictures of the revamped Kensington Oval ground, in Barbados. Then again, perhaps even this impressive development sends out worrying signals for the future of cricket and the wider culture, particularly in the West Indies. It may also serve as a warning for us in South Wales as we become ever more modern, trendy and 'vibrant.'

Let me explain. Earlier in the day I had contented myself with listening to coverage of the match on the radio.

During the break between innings, commentator Jonathan Agnew interviewed West Indian musician and singer Eddy Grant. Eddy is probably best remembered for what I had previously considered to be rather banal, if catchy, songs entitled I Don't Wanna Dance and Electric Avenue.

Eddy was in sombre and pessimistic mood. He said that while it was diverse, West Indian culture had always been strong and idiosyncratic with cricket as a powerful, uniting force, rather like rugby unites the Welsh.

But American culture had run roughshod over the West Indies, introducing basketball and pizza to replace cricket and local cuisine. The mighty American dollar was preferred to local currencies and the West Indies was becoming just another part of the United States.

'International forces' behind the Cricket World Cup had further eroded the uniqueness of the West Indies.

Looking at the television pictures of the Kensington Oval ground, I could see what he meant. Essentially, it was Lord's cricket ground, in London, reproduced in the Caribbean for the pleasure of visiting English fans.

I can remember watching cricket the old Kensington Oval and, judging by what I saw on telly, any hint of the essential essence of the West Indies had been removed from the new ground.

As we approach the Assembly Elections, there is much talk here of Welshness and what it means to be Welsh.

But as much of the heart of Cardiff is ripped out to make way for a glorified American-style shopping mall, and Cardiff Bay continues to be developed as a concrete wilderness on the outskirts of the city (despite the magnificent Millennium Centre), we must be careful that we are not swamped by those 'international forces' that are ruining the West Indies.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 21, 2007
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