Last year I visited Trinidad and Tobago, met Brian Lara, did a couple of SSFL matches, walked the streets of Port of Spain, had some spicy doubles and attended the biggest party in sport. And needless to say, I fell in love with the twin-island republic. It was too short a stay.

It was the first time visiting another Caribbean island, and I was even enamoured by the fact they had street lights, even on their highways. Because in Jamaica... in many instances ... the road is only lit by vehicular traffic.

My friend Mariah Ramharack, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and my co-worker, saw the funny side in seeing my starry eyes.

It is said that Paris is the city of lights. However, through the eyes of this novice wanna-be traveller, sweet, sweet T&T was all that and a bag of chips.

That trip really opened up a craving to travel more, because being Jamaican, living in Jamaica and not travelling outside of Jamaica certainly limits my scope and my view of the world.

Having said all of that... Jamaica is one heck of a country, and I'm proud that this is the country of my birth.

What Jamaica has achieved as a nation, especially in sport, is incredible. We have led the way in the Caribbean and indeed much of the world in track and field, making a massive impact at the Olympics and the World Championships. Our athletes have showcased not just our talents but our culture. And I believe Jamaica's renaissance in track and field in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics is linked with the country's renaissance in tourism since that time, with tourist arrivals increasing by over 50 per cent according to tradingeconomics.com.

We can claim to have sport's greatest-ever ambassador in Usain Bolt, and some of the greatest-ever female sprinters to grace the world in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Merlene Ottey.

We also have some of the most notable cricketers from George Headley to Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh to Christopher Henry Gayle.

We also have the first black woman to win a global title in swimming – Alia Atkinson.

And as far as team sport is concerned, our Sunshine Girls are right up there in the world of netball while our Reggae Boyz made us so proud at the 1998 World Cup in France.

These are just the tip of a massive iceberg of representation and pride over the years which began even before our Independence in 1962 in no small part due to the aforementioned Headley as well as the likes of Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley, George Rhoden and Leslie Laing.

All of these stories were laced with adversity, which appears to be the driving force of Jamaica’s success.

It is our blessing, and for many others who have fallen by the wayside, it is our curse.

A cursory glimpse at the government’s expenditure on sport sees Jamaica spending far less than Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago spends roughly five times more than Jamaica and even the Bahamas spends twice as much as the land of wood and water. The economies dictate that this should be the status quo for now.

Our emergence in the world is powered by sheer will and determination, and pressure. And maybe that is the true story of Jamaica. Because how else would pearls be made?

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last week I wrote Test Cricket wasn’t in the DNA of this West Indies Cricket team. Since that article the team offered up yet another insipid display to lose the three-match Test series against England 2-1 and the Wisden Trophy forever.

 And of course, the typical excuses have come from all quarters. “These were difficult conditions to play in”, because Test cricket usually is like a game of Pictionary I presume. “Decisions didn’t go our way”, “luck wasn’t on our side” were some of the other gems passed around. And of course there was the obligatory “taking the positives” statement which comes with every post mortem of a series.

And frankly I’m tired of all of it.

I was a supporter of West Indies cricket long before I became a journalist 17 years ago, and I’ve heard these excuses before. And back then we actually had superstars like Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in the team.

Now, we were told, we have a group of guys that will fight and show grit, even though the talent isn’t quite there. But the DNA results came in, and proved that that was a lie. The capitulation I saw was typical of the Caribbean team of recent years gone by. And frankly, if this team doesn’t have fight and fortitude, it has nothing.

Before the start of the series, there was a point of view that if the players were acclimatized in these conditions and if their minds were solely on cricket and they had no distractions because of the fact they were in a bubble brought on by covid19 restrictions, that maybe we would see the best that West Indies had to offer.

And we were well on our way after a very good, if not convincing performance in the opening Test at Headingley. But it all went downhill after that. And yes, of course, we had our moments in the game, but every Test playing team has their moments, so that shouldn’t be the standard.

Last week I pointedly stated that our batsmen were more likely to win a T20 game than a Test match, citing the different approaches required for victory. We had a day to navigate at Old Trafford on a pitch which had no terrors and we lasted 37.1 overs.

Yes, we succumbed to defeat a mere half an hour before the heavy rains returned which would have surely washed out the remainder of play. All this after day 4 was also washed out. But this is where we are again as West Indies supporters, doing rain dances under mango trees to hide the ineptitude.

 West Indies had only one century partnership in the entire series. England had four. Our best batsman Jermaine Blackwood averaged 35.16 in the series, and Shannon Gabriel took the most wickets (11) at 32.27 apiece. This is ordinary.

 And now the team is playing on the heart strings of the world. We are using our players to beg the likes of England and India to play us at home in order to help with our coffers which have taken a further hit due to the pandemic. And the reason why this appeal is necessary is because as a performing team we can’t attract the teams or the sponsors and the television demand. Where is our superstar to help fill up a stadium? At least Lara was able to break a Test record once or twice.

My friend and co-worker Ricardo Chambers disagrees with me when I say Test Cricket isn’t in the DNA of this West Indies cricket team, not that his point of view comes with any ray of hope. He believes there is little talent on the batting side of things, and has pointed to the fact there is no batting superstar in the team. And some have pointed out to me that that was the difference between the teams and not necessarily the fact our boys simply cannot play Test cricket.

However, having Test Cricket in your DNA doesn’t mean you have to be a superstar or the best in the world. It just means you have to be efficient in carrying out tasks like batting for half an hour to save a Test match. I’m hardpressed to find the characters. Because I once thought we had fight in us, at the very least.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Seven years ago, a fact-based thriller about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis won best picture at the Academy Awards. The name of the picture was Argo, the name of the director was … some guy named Ben Affleck.

Earlier this week, the findings of a study which looked into racial bias in football commentary were released, and needless to say, it raised a few eyebrows.

The study, organized by RunRepeat in association with The Professional Footballers’ Association, analyzed more than two thousand statements from commentators in matches during the current 2019/2020 season.

This unique study was to determine if there was a difference in the way media speaks about players of different skin colour.

The short answer is yes, there is a bias against people of colour.

One striking example had to do with commentators speaking about a player’s intelligence.

In 63.33% of instances where there was a criticism of a player’s intelligence, a player with darker skin tone was the target, while whenever there was praise, 62.60% of that praise was aimed at players with a lighter skin tone.

The problem with the findings is the way the language of commentators help to frame ideas on race and PFA Equalities Executive, Jason Lee, sums it up perfectly.

Commentators help shape the perception we hold of each player, deepening any racial bias already held by the viewer.

"It’s important to consider how far-reaching those perceptions can be and how they impact footballers even once they finish their playing career,” Lee said.

Let me be clear, this issue wasn’t even on my radar before the study was released on Tuesday.

On my radar, however, was the fact that there are no renowned black television football commentators in Europe. And as far as I know, no black football commentator has even been selected as part of the commentary team for the international feed at a FIFA World Cup tournament.

I am a bit surprised that football is so far behind in this regard.

Cricket commentary teams, although they mostly consist of past players, provide a much more diverse cast for broadcast. Even the sport of athletics has a wider cross-section of races and nationalities.

The likes of Lance Whittaker, Ricardo Chambers and Hubert Lawrence are three of the best track and field commentators on the planet, and they all hail from Jamaica, and are some of the best representatives of the black race in sports commentating, period. And there are more individuals out there deserving of the highest platform.

The study, although an eye-opener, didn’t highlight the race of the commentators sampled. I’m sure this would have gone a far way in determining the reason for bias against players of colour. It is the elephant in the room, and attention now needs to be paid to this issue.

There is evidence that black commentators, not only add a unique style, but a perspective badly needed in describing situations and personalities in the sporting sphere. If football truly is the global game, those describing it must be representatives of that same global audience.

How will this study move the needle in a time when the global society demands change?

We hope to see the results in the coming months and years.

And while this is not a slap in the face of those who we have become accustomed to voicing the historic moments in football, this is a chance to open the doors for the ones who lack opportunity.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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