Brendan Nash, the infamous ‘white’ West Indian cricketer, has made a great time of his start as an international sportsman. It’s worth noting, however, that if the West Indies were as good as, say, Australia, Nash would not have found a place. A look at his first-class average confirms that he enjoyed what Andrew McGlashan rightly calls a “modest” run, with an average just over 30 runs.
The archetype of the migrant cricketer has found increasing prominence lately: we have Kevin Pietersen (from South Africa to England); Andrew Symonds (from rugby to cricket); Jehan Mubarak (from Washington, D.C. to Sri Lanka). In Nash’s case, there is some awkwardness, because Nash wasn’t good enough for Australia, but is seen as good enough for the West Indies. And because of his light skin, that uncomfortable fact carries some uncomfortable messages.
Nash handles this as well as he can. In an interview with The Guardian, he said:
“I don’t feel fraudulent,” he says. “My parents are from Kingston. I was conceived in Jamaica. My mother was seven months pregnant when she left. So I guess while I was developing I heard the reggae music and my parents were dancing. I love the rum and reggae, though I’m still behind with the dancing and patois.”
It has not been easy. “I think some people thought that I had come over here because I thought the cricket was weak, that I had come here to save them. We Jamaicans are a proud people. At four trial matches in a row some people came along and for an hour while I was batting they were constantly at me. ‘Go home, white boy, you’re no good. You couldn’t make it there, so why are you here?’ I thought it was pretty good sledging, actually.”
Jimmy Adams, however, offers the other side:
“Here is a player who in his own words didn’t cut it in Australia and within a year of playing in the Caribbean he’s playing Test cricket. It’s forced us to look at our system. He has brought with him all the focus and planning of the Australian process. We have to produce players here who can think a certain way and apart from all the runs he scores Nash helps us do that.”