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Hinds goes to bat on bouncy Hanover Eastern political pitch

BY H G HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 02, 2018

WAVELL Wayne Hinds is holding a straight bat as he begins a Hanover Eastern political innings today that he hopes will give him more success than the 2,608 runs he scored from 45 Test matches representing the West Indies.

Hinds, who turns 42 five days later on September 7, is the only candidate from the People's National Party (PNP) who has so far declared his intention to bat on the bouncy pitch that is the constituency of Hanover Eastern, now served in Parliament by Dave Brown of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

PNP delegates of the constituency will meet at the 12-year-old Hopewell High School on the outskirts of the bustling town of Hopewell to ratify Hinds as the chairman of the constituency's machinery, which usually translates to confirmed candidacy in elections to follow.

The former Camperdown High School Manning Cup footballer, but more prominently a left-handed batsman and medium pace bowler for the school — who captained, among others, former Jamaica football international Ricardo Fuller in both Manning Cup and Sunlight Cup cricket — went on to lead Jamaica and represent the West Indies proudly. He has now confirmed that he is interested in being the PNP's candidate in the next general election due in 2021. In batting parlance, Hinds 'shouldered arms' when asked to elaborate on his chances of, first, getting the nod of the delegates, and the party and secondly, presenting himself to votes for the final journey.

“My wish to serve the people of Eastern Hanover lies in the hands of the delegates of Eastern Hanover and the PNP leadership,” was all the once-aggressive left-handed batsman was willing to share when contacted by the Jamaica Observer last week.

But members of the party's hierarchy, in separate discussions with the Sunday Observer, described it, among other words, as a “done deal”.

“Wavell has always had an interest in representational politics and he had expressed a desire to work with the people of Eastern Hanover, so he will get that chance,” one official of the party said.

Hinds' name was first linked to two seats in the parish that he was raised — St Catherine. One of them, St Catherine South Eastern was first mentioned after the PNP lost to the Jamaica Labour Party in the February 2016 General Election, due mainly to speculation over the future of incumbent MP Colin Fagan.

The other seat that had Hinds' name temporarily glued to it was that of St Catherine East Central now represented by Alando Terrelonge of the JLP, who beat former MP Arnaldo Brown in the 2016 poll.

Uncertainty surrounding the possibility of Brown challenging Terrelonge again, raised speculation that Hinds could have been the likely man displaying the PNP's symbol of the head. However, information surfaced last week that Mayor of Spanish Town, Norman Scott, is the party preferred choice in the seat for the next election.

Hinds, the president and chief executive officer of the West Indies Players Association, is now trying to get his line and length right, party officials said of the more than useful slow-medium pacer who, in addition to his batting average of 33 in Tests, also snared 16 wickets.

“Wavell is a good pick at a time when the PNP is blowing hot and cold and in the west is lukewarm,” one PNP supporter who called himself a “stalwart” in Hanover Eastern said in response to a telephone question regarding Hinds' suitability. “I am into my seventies now and over the years we have not had outstanding candidates in Hanover. D K Duncan (served as MP from 2007 to 2016) wasn't bad, and before him Dr (Aston) King was decent too, but we want people who can argue our cases for us and who will remind the rest of Jamaica that there is such a constituency called Eastern Hanover,” the senior citizen said.

Dr King, a medical practitioner in his time, won the seat for the PNP by 911 votes in the 1972 election over three-time winner Donald “Dutty Shut” Jackson; repeated the feat against Basil Buck of the JLP with a mere 150 votes in the 1976; election, and after he was badly beaten by Buck in 1980, returned in 1989, following the PNP's boycott of the 1983 snap election, with victory over Francis Jackson by 1,983 votes.

Dr King was replaced by Francis Tulloch in the 1993 General Election; who defeated Dr Horace Chang, now minister of national security, by 1,687 votes, before Tulloch, like Dr Chang, turned his attention to representing the people of St James.

Dental surgeon Dr Duncan won the seat by 10 votes over Barrington Gray, authenticated by a magisterial recount in 2007, and maintained his unblemished record of never losing a seat while representing the PNP with a clinical and scientific victory by 251 votes over the JLP's Paula Kerr Jarrett in 2011.

In entering the seat, Hinds will also find that of the 16 general elections, it has been won more times by the PNP — eight over the JLP's seven — with an independent candidate, Joseph Malcolm, upsetting the JLP's Greville Levy by 395 votes in the first contested election in 1944 — six years after Jamaica gained Universal Adult Suffrage which allowed natives of a certain age the entitlement to vote in periodic elections. That happened in 1938.

In the last contested election, the JLP's Dave Brown had 6,380 people who voted for him in a triumph over former Mayor of Lucea Wynter McIntosh, whose 6,046 votes condemned the future of another sitting mayor suffering defeat — the same thing that happened to Mayor Lloyd Hill previously.

Hinds' cricket story would not be complete without mention of his 10,110 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 36, and his 50 first-class wickets.

He scored five centuries and 14 fifties in Tests since he played his first match against Zimbabwe in 2000 and his last against Australia in 2005. For good measure, Hinds wore the predominant burgundy, (some say maroon) of the West Indies in 119 One-Day Internationals between September 1999 and April 2005. Like his Test statistics, he also scored five hundreds and 14 fifties in the shorter version of the game.

But some voters would readily submit that a positive performance on the pitch would not automatically translate to rich harvests in the cricket arena

There have been scores of political candidates who represented Jamaica and the region with distinction who tested the political waters over the years, some with success. Among the outstanding sports personalities who have faced the electorate is late Olympian Herb McKenley for the JLP, whose run ended in 1972 when his opponent, Allan Isaacs, effectively sentenced him to second place in the then St Andrew Northern seat; with the famous declaration atop a campaign platform that although McKenley was an outstanding runner for Jamaica, if they voted for him he would run away from them when they needed him most. The message sunk deep as McKenley was swamped by Isaacs who polled 10,610 votes to the star athlete's mere 2,822 people who sympathised with him.

Former national footballer Allie McNab tried unsuccessfully for the JLP in St Catherine South Central; but his party colleague Juliet Cuthbert Flynn — a Jamaican Olympian who finished with silver medals in the 100 and 200 metres at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992 — struck gold in the 2016 General Election with defeat of incumbent Paul Buchanan of the PNP in the St Andrew West Rural seat.