The island of graceful, prolific sportsmen

TAXI drivers normally give the first impression of certain countries to international visitors.

But they do not come as well-informed, warmhearted and proud of their country’s achievements than the Clive Lloyd look-alike Milton Carrington, who gives travelers a near perfect welcome to Trinidad & Tobago’s capital, Port-of-Spain.

The easygoing Trinidadian, in his mid-fifties, smiles lazily when

reminded that he looks just like the West Indies legendary captain, Sir Clive Lloyd, a sign that it has been pointed out to him countless times before.
“Indian supporters (during the 2007 ICC World Cup) took pictures with me to show to their friends back home,” he says in his heavy, but charming Trinidadian accent. “They said ‘see dis, we were wit da great mahn Sir Clive Lloyd in da West Indies!’”.

Carrington, who was born in one of the Caribbean’s most stable economies and has lived his whole life in this 1,3 million-populated island, is immensely proud of his country’s sporting achievements.

“Brian Charles Lara, yah man, he’s from here,” he says with a pose that seems like infinity. “Dwight Yorke as well. There’s also Kieron Pollard, the hero of the IPL. Don’t forget Dwayne Bravo, dat fantastic West Indies all-rounder.”

York, who made his name as a free-scoring striker for Aston Villa and Manchester United in the English Premier League, was himself a keen cricketer in his boyhood, playing alongside the luminary Lara, arguably the greatest Test batsman who ever drew breath.

The elegant Bravo is a linchpin of the Windies side, while the emerging but hard-hitting Pollard of Mumbai Indians was one of the most exciting players in India Premier League championship this year.

Carrington is old enough to reminisce T&T’s greatest ever individual sporting achievement as it was yesterday.

“Hasely Crawford, yah man, remember him?” he asks. “He run in the 100m final in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and won the Gold Medal. He did us proud! He won gold in the biggest race at the Olympics! The only one we’ve won.”

While there is always open rivalry between two of the leading nations in the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, there is a common solidarity too.

It has been 34 years since T&T produced a gold medalist at the Olympics, but Carrington takes some solace in the Jamaican phenomenon Usain Bolt.

“They’ve tried to find drugs in him,” he says. “They always do it! Of course they will not find drugs in him.”

Cricket though, is Carrington’s main passion.

“I used to play. I used to hit the ball far,” he says. “I was wicketkeeper-batsman. I used to be very agile. I walked on my hands for metres!”

Unfortunately, Carrington has to rely on his car radio and mobile phone for live commentary from the venues of the ICC World Twenty20.

Trinidad & Tobago is preparing for general elections on May 24, in which a woman candidate, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is challenging incumbent Prime Minister Patrick Manning in a bruising campaign to be head of government in this oil-rich twin island republic.

The chairman of Persad-Bissessar’s party, UNC, is Jack Warner, the vice-president of Fifa.

Cricket is the number one sport in this country, but football has been making inroads in recent years with stars such as Sunderland City’s Kenwyn Jones following in Yorke’s footsteps.

Enock Muchinjo in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Top