The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is a regional tournament of an abbreviated cricket variant that has been held annually since 2013. Commonly called Twenty20 Cricket, the 2019 tournament started on September 5 at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad, and the final will take place on October 12, very appropriately in the southern stadium of Trinidad that bears the name of the great Brian Lara. But this year the protagonists are not the athletes, but a “man of the nuts.”
The TriniGourmet food blog describes the well-known man of nuts as a “usual element in the street food scene and in sports events”:
Sometimes he moves around with a cart, other times with a tray around his neck. (…) People line up, prepared to wait, if a particular vendor’s reputation has dubbed his roasting style worthy. You can get your nuts plain, salted, or honey roasted.
Sometimes it moves with a wheelbarrow, other times with a tray around the neck. (…) People stand in line, ready to wait, if the reputation of a private seller has dubbed their roasting style as worthy. You can buy fresh, salted or roasted nuts with honey.
Nut sellers are an important part of Caribbean cricket. When cricket fans flock to watch the games and when other spectators show up just to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere, people get hungry and nuts (traditionally peanuts or peanuts, and cashews) are a good way to suffocate a stomach that roars without having to get up from the seat.
As for cricket, perhaps the best known nut man (at least in Queen's Park Oval) is Keith “Jumbo” Martin. Known for its flamboyant style of throwing packages of nuts with great precision to spectators scattered in the stands, Jumbo has been a regular element in Caribbean cricket since 1971.
As soon as the 2019 CPL tournament started, he posted a video, widely disseminated on social media channels, in which he showed his dissatisfaction because he was told he could not sell his nuts because local conglomerate Sunshine Snacks was the official sponsor:
Social networks broke into their support, with some publications asking Oval to “reinstall this benchmark.”
On Facebook, user Rhoda Bharath reflected:
(The) Thing is, fellas like Jumbo and Nuts Landing (another nuts vendor) have a grassroots ad campaign that would destroy SS (Sunshine Snacks) in the Oval in an open market… which technically is what capitalism claims to be based on. So when SS wants to lock down rights to an event… that isn't a free and open economy.
(The) issue is that guys like Jumbo and Nuts Landing (another nut seller) have a grassroots advertising campaign that would destroy Sunshine Snacks in the Oval in an open market … which is technically what capitalism claims is based on . So when Sunshine Snacks wants to block the rights of an event … that is not a free and open economy.
However, perhaps the most creative expression of support came in the form of a YouTube video published by Brian Bartholomew, whose son interpreted a timeless verse (improvised form of calypso)
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEcJY3ZriEY (/ embed)
The message arrived. Four days after the first match of CPL 2019, Sunshine Snacks announced that it had partially waived its exclusive rights to allow independent sellers of nuts to sell their products in the tournament.
Director General Kristine Thompson explained:
When the cricket fans spoke out in favor of all nuts sellers being there as a critical part of the Oval Cricket Culture and the game experience… we simply decided to put our hearts ahead of our strict sponsorship rights.
When cricket fans spoke in favor of all nut sellers being a crucial part of the Oval cricket culture and game experience … we simply decided to put our hearts above our strict sponsorship rights.
Social media users widely praised the company's gesture, but not everyone supported Jumbo's tactics. In a public conversation, some Facebook users felt that their methods disagreed with the paid rights of the sponsors; others wondered if Jumbo had followed the proper procedures that could have granted him the privilege of selling at the event, and a member of the Queen's Park Cricket Club, who spoke with Global Voices via WhatsApp but preferred not to give his name, He believed that the commitment should have come from both parties.
As Aarti Gosein summed it up:
If it wasn't for those big businesses and their sponsorship money there may not have been any cricket
If it wasn't for those big companies and their sponsorship money, maybe there wouldn't be any cricket match.
In the end the inclusiveness of Caribbean cricket prevailed, and left enough space for everyone.