Cricket is more than a batsman’s game, where the bowlers leave a trail of greatness behind. Cricket is also not just a bowler’s paradise, where batsmen come uninvited like a scary over-friendly guest to a party. There’s a lot more to it.
Cricket is about setting inhibitions free. It is the quips and the whimpers you don’t often hear from any of the eleven on the field, but sense from beyond the boundary.
It’s adrenaline. It’s about a quest of great self-discovery.
Cricket is about finding oneself by losing oneself in the realm of a sport so utterly intoxicating that sometimes it feels, Cricket it is a way of life.
Cricket is the myth of ages; the stories we hear about but haven’t quite seen. And some that we have but wished those who missed out on, could see.
It is present in the deathly stare of an Allan Donald. It drips as the fragrance in Lara’s cover drive. It is the rush of Ponting’s pull and the composure when Dravid takes guard.
Cricket is the great levitation of life.
But what do you when a life’s harrowingly taken out of cricket, one that was all about cricket?
When a few days ago, they pulled out the body of Pumby boy from a particular spot near Charleston Bay in St. Kitts and Nevis in what was a suspected drowning incident, Cricket lost a gem called Harvey Stapleton.
At the same time, at least, some of us who belong to the lot that unabashedly searches for meaning of life on Netflix, hangs out endlessly on social media, uses emojis to express what words were originally meant to do, came to a pause.
It’s the lot that’s perhaps treaded the road that lies beyond the headlining makers of West Indies cricket; and cared to inquire about figures, which locals hailed for being legends in their own right.
We were reminded so brutally about the brevity of life and just why they say that you ought to do what you always sought out to for even Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you gonna get.”
But when the magnificent and sprawling islands of St Kitts and Nevis lost Harvey Stapleton, it became abundantly, albeit painfully clear, that one among the noted from the region that produced Elquemedo Willett, Derick Parry, Keith Arthurton, Kieran Powell, and Colin Archibald was gone forever.
But then, the deceased albeit iconic Pumby Boy never played a game for the West Indies. So how was the loss significant anyway?
Harvey Stapleton, lest it is forgotten, was and shall remain, one of the most recognisable figures from the famous Brown Hill sporting region that’s given a lot to Caribbean cricket.
The late Pumby boy was a local legend, a name on everyone’s lips in St Kitts and Nevis, did stuff you’d consider apt for archives, heard only in myths and perhaps told, time and over again, from passing generations.
It was way back in 1973, where Harvey Stapleton made it to the famous Nevis team. He remains a name utterly unbeknownst to the present-day frequently Facebooking, AI-obsessed, endlessly WhatsApping-generation that cares little about anyone else other than names that read Babar, Kohli, Smith, Starc, Pant, de Kock, Rashid, Root and Rohit.
Though, here was a cricketer who did something historic and nearly unrepeatable in the domestic annals of West Indies cricket. It was an effort that even the current fantasy gaming app obsessed, IPL-loving, T20-crazed generation defined by short attention spans would salute.
In a contest against St Kitts, Harvey Stapleton of Nevis, captured all ten wickets whilst giving away just 92 runs.
Luther Kelly and Julie Mitchum, apparently, were part of the line up drowned single handedly Pumby boy.
But, legend has it that Harvey Stapleton’s journey to reach the prominent Nevis cricket team wasn’t all that easy; and that even after reaching Nevis trials aged 16, he had to compete every single year until he reached the senior team, by which time he’d turned 19.
Vernon Springer, one of the discerning and exceedingly bright Caribbean minds related to Cricket, told Caught At Point that “Pumby Boy was a legend to his last day on earth.
He was more than a fine crafty batsman and a thinking spinner; I would not want to restrict his identity to a particular chore of the game; he was a fine human.”
When asked what made Harvey Stapleton such a popular figure back in the Caribbean islands, Mr. Springer exclaimed, “His knowledge of the game was special and second to none. He would, in his latter years, come and sit next to you watching a game and tell you how he’d get every single batsman out on his own; each of the ten wickets.”
That’s precisely why the legend of Pumby boy will continue to soar even as the glitz and fanfare associated with the life of a West Indian national cricketer eschewed him all his life.
For there are some birds that are meant to fly on different skies; souls that become immortal for their intrepid love of the game and remain unfazed freeing themselves of the burden of having not made it to a national cricket team.
All of this when Harvey Stapleton, it is known to all, lived a life riddled by mental health issues.
Eccentric to some, passionate to many others, but a lover and liver of life on his own terms, Harvey Stapleton, besides his great knowledge on Cricket, could talk to you on anything- whether politics, religion, counter culture and whatnot.
This thirst of knowledge coupled with the desire of passing it on made him a larger-than-life character, so much so that the Nevis Cricket Association has actually created a T20 tournament this year to honour him.
Pumby boy was also known for his annual Good friday celebrations, where as part of the yearly activity, he’d display the Crucifix, and was, often called “Black Jesus!”
A life devoted to cricket that was so much more and was perhaps carrying some crosses within given his mental health issues, Harvey Stapleton epitomised passion and that desire to share ideas and knowledge.
That he spread his wings his own way in an age that sides with suppression and often clips the wings of the freewheeling ones is further testimony to what he was and what he’ll always remain:
A life like no other, a life loved by so many!