NOUGHT INTO NOUGHT
Dr. Lester CN Simon
Sometimes, when you are overwhelmed, as one of my maternal aunts (King Obstinate’s mother) was wont to become, your only recourse is to stand akimbo and shout, “I will lift up my eyes onto the hills”. But when you live on a relatively flat island like Antigua or Barbuda, you cannot look to an exhaustible number of hills forever. Sooner or later, you have to look elsewhere to find a rational explanation for what on earth is going on in West Indies Cricket.
Having made the bold assertion, in newsprint “to rahtid”, that there was a divine and rational explanation for the conjoining of the Cricket World Cup and the bicentenary of the legal end of the British Empire Atlantic Slave Trade (BEAST), I feel compelled to find a divine and rational explanation for the dismal performance of our cricket team.
Divine and rational explanations demand a careful study of mathematics. After all, it was Euclid, the Greek mathematician, who said, “The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.”
Imagine if you can, 242 runs divided equally amongst 11 West Indian cricketers. Each player makes an average of 22 runs. More realistically for the West Indies Cricket Team, divide zero runs by 11 players. The obvious answer is an average of zero runs per player. Division is all about sharing or distribution. When there is little or nothing to share or distribute, there is little or nothing to get. We West Indians know this very well. Sharing a little or sharing a lot is predicated on good management, realistic expectations and cooperation between management and workers. Some of us West Indians do not know this at all.
Now that you are versed in the practice of divisional mathematics, imagine that the legacy of West Indies cricket and the expectations of West Indian people are represented by a very large number. If, after watching the West Indies Cricket Team, you cannot imagine a very large number, consider the same 242 runs you imagined before. The prize-winning question becomes what is the result of dividing our legacy and expectations, or the number 242, or any number greater than zero, by zero itself? The quotient or answer is not zero. You cannot share or distribute something amongst nothing. It is a mathematical and absolute absurdity. This is what the West Indies Cricket Team has become. But wait; there is more; so rally round, according to Lara, the “Rest Indies”. By the bye, if the allegation is true that our cricketers perform better at night, in relative darkness, why can’t they bat? Do you think they are smart enough to get that?
The natural destination of our mathematical journey is the enigma of dividing the zero West Indies Cricket Team by the nothingness or zero of the West Indies Cricket Board, or vice versa. In mathematical terms, this idea is said to go beyond absolute absurdity and to become indefinable. If it is an absolute absurdity to divide a positive integer, like our legacy and expectations, amongst nothing, which is personified by either the West Indies Cricket Team or the West Indies Cricket Board, then to divide or share or distribute the zero Board amongst the zero cricketers, or vice versa, must be an indefinable, alienable thought.
To redefine ourselves in sports, as in life, 200 years after we have wrestled legal freedom from the BEAST, the two zeros in our sporting life, which mirrors our entire West Indian life, must be disbanded. We must continue to question the competence of those so called successful business managers who perform so poorly when they are removed from the trappings of hereditary, social and political connections.
Yet these are the very same business gorgons who are barefaced enough to talk about ordinary West Indian people being afraid to take risks in business ventures. The little sugar cake and lollipop vendor at the side of the road takes more risk relatively, every single, blessed day and would have done infinitely better. Incarcerate the kings! Incinerate the keys! And may the good Lord have mercy on your torrid soul if you confuse these instructions.
Nought into nought not only just cannot compute; it is mathematical heresy. Try it on a calculator. The better ones will give “error” for an answer. It is not just that you cannot divide zero by zero. It is that the very thought of it is truly the quintessential, incomprehensible and indefinable absurdity of West Indian life. My beloved aunt taught me this fundamental mathematical fact, probably because she knew that even Christopher Columbus, bearing maiden gifts of shiny things, can-cups and all, understood precisely that.