Jeff Dujon was four years old when his father took him to Sabina Park for the first time. There, Dujon would train for hours, as his father sat in one of the colorful chairs set up by the Jamaica Cricket Association beyond the boundary line. It didn’t matter if Dujon was restless or bored. That was how he would learn the basics, his father had decided, and that was what he would do.
The youngster was at the park for so much of his time that he would bump into Jamaican Test greats like Gerry Alexander, Jackie Hendriks, Reg Scarlett, and Allan Rae at the ground or, sometimes, in the dressing rooms. For the boy, this meant “listening to these guys just talking cricket, and as a cricketer, you listen and you learn every little thing you see”.
A few years later, Charles Joseph, a former member of the ground staff at Sabina Park, saw Dujon batting. Joseph, who worked at the ground for 49 years, told everybody who would listen that “Jeff is going to play for the West Indies.” Ten years later, Dujon was picked as a wicketkeeper-batsman in the West Indies team.
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That was the cricket culture Jamaican kids grew up around in the years leading up to and through the 1970s and 1980s, and even in the 1990s, to an extent. Kids hung around and listened to former Test and first-class cricketers of repute, and, more often than not, played with top-notch cricketers.
That culture played a role in letting the world watch Michael Holding and Lawrence Rowe, Dujon and Courtney Walsh, and even Chris Gayle. Five players from the island had been part of the World Cup squad – Gayle, Andre Russell, Fabian Allen, Oshane Thomas, and Sheldon Cottrell, although Cottrell turned out for the Leeward Islands last season. The team currently playing the Test series against India, however, has one Jamaican – opener John Campbell. Read More