In the 2014 release The Equaliser, a ‘hard-as-nails’ triumph story of one man who fights for justice for a girl against her tyrant operating a girl-trafficking ring, Denzel Washington’s character is nearly- not explicitly- that of a man-monk. He’s a fighter for the righteous cause, a man immaculately well-dressed, supportive of others, and precise in his communication. This is besides being a methodical, clinical observer blessed with sharp acumen.
In a scene where he returns from his favourite midnight eatery, Denzel sits down at home, in the kitchen table, after neatly doing his dishes, placing the used, now washed cutlery back on the shelf, tightly closes the tap and sits down to read a book. Soon after which he neatly latches the door of his room and switches off the lights to put on the next morning’s alarm before giving himself a shut eye.
Absolute preciseness and immaculate work in motion.
Honestly, Vernon Springer, who lives in Antigua, miles away from Denzel Washington’s base in North America, isn’t that far off from the great actor’s Equalizer character.
The author of this piece can well imagine, Vernon Springer- a gem if you want a single word description- must also be conducting himself in similar Denzel-esque fashion whilst doing his routine work.
The world of one of the best-ever communicator and content creator on West Indies cricket could well be something like this:
Mr. Springer must surely be the man who hits the bed early, wakes up to prepare his early morning cuppa coffee the next morning, does the tidying up of the room himself, wears nice, suave- not loud- colour combinations and tightens the shoe laces immediately after to hit the park for a jog, before returning to check what must be- on a regular basis- an overloaded email inbox with the next task being- scheduling his commentating, writing, analysing assignments on the game for the week.
In an era where we all claim to be leading ‘busy’ lives but only a few are actually up to something meaningful and cause-oriented, Vernon Springer, is an anomaly in the system, a man withdrawn from the world of theatrics and shenanigans, a soul solely dedicated to uphold the cause of cricket in that very country without which the conception of cricket cannot be imagined.
And in playing diverse- not one sided- roles, that of a cricket analyst, team manager, commentator, radio show host, owner of a media company, someone who started out as a fitness coach, Vernon Springer is the Denzel Washington meets Tom Hanks level of consistency and organisational skills in Caribbean Cricket.
Actually, it would not be overstating it that this gentleman who resides in Antigua, serves the Leeward Islands cricket team as its manager, hails from St. Kitts and Nevis, is knowledgeable on- not just familiar with- cricket in every single Caribbean Island is a great son of the West Indies.
He belongs to the West Indies and it is our great joy to hear him express himself on a sport that he’s served unfailingly in diverse capacities for no fewer than three decades, a sport that can make his eyes numb and his heart swell with pride at the back of inspired performance.
Vernon Springer’s contribution to West Indies cricket, if you weren’t aware just yet, is akin to that best friend of a family who tends to a structure during its worst and best days. He’s an avuncular presence around whom the youngsters stick, even the experienced head go to for guidance for the man behind the emotive eyes has seen West Indies cricket from the vantage point, observed the powerful days turn into days of ignominy and pain. Someone who, despite being a team manger, cricket analyst, expert opinion maker, Caribbean radio and tv personality an whatnot, is a son of the islands, and above all- selfless servant of the sport.
Yet, to this day, we hear talk about the cricketers and their excellence on the 22 yards, the bowlers and their fifers and at best, the telling insights of personalities behind the mic- think Ian Bishop.
What we don’t to a larger degree- but must be exposed to- are the cricketing insights emanating from a cerebral personality in the Caribbean who, to this day, besides doing all of the above, keeps himself also occupied in fund-raising efforts only so young, up-and-coming cricketers from the island nations can have access to necessary cricketing infrastructure, the first basic raw material to forge a finish product in not just the West Indies cricket, but in any cricket.
Why should he care? Why should he bother about the lack of resources talented youngsters are grappling with?
Lest we forget, not everyone offers captivating lines and astonishing oratory from behind the mic!
There are some rare ones like Vernon Springer around, who remain connected- and deliberately so- with cricket at the grassroots level only so a firm structure, a sound foundation to cricket can be established for structures to nurture them further.
It’s like admiring a salubrious penthouse; its 20th floor and the rooftop but holding little to value the firm foundation, the base on which the lanky sky scrapper stands.
Never forget the roots, never forget where you came from (be humble, be around those who need you) may possibly be Vernon Springer’s by-line while the rest of the world can dance in amazement about another iconic statement from the Caribbean: Remember the Name!
For someone who’s a regular media panelist on talk shows discussing cricket around the Caribbean, a regular on Kaieteur news, a guest on Grenada sports and the likes, Vernon Springer is not your average media personality.
His no nonsense work ethic, exceptional reading of the game, razor-sharp memory and very grounded presence ooze a class and grace that are fast becoming virtues to imbibe not realistic qualities that you often run into in today’s shallow personalities who happen to exist in plenty in the sphere of sports media.
To actually learn about sports management and fitness, he rushed in his youth to England, returning after which he’d throw himself toward learning cricket administration.
But to this day and it’s a graceful reminder to those who may not be aware, the finest contribution of the man who wears many hats is the establishment of a young cricket-talent exploration program without which one may not have found the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, to name just a few.
So what were these efforts?
In the capacity of operations manager, Leeward Islands cricket team, it was Vernon Springer, who along with the government of Montserrat who created- the first-ever Under-17 Leeward Islands tournament (2018), the Under-19, and then, the Leeward senior-team tournament, and then, to compliment this, a Leeward Islands under-17 training program.
The participation and crowd support that came out of this championship was exceptional for it was the first time that cricket in Leeward islands was screened. With massive brand Digicel getting involved in screening of this much-vaunted cricket championship, viewers from England, Pakistan, India even placed their eye on Leeward Islands.
As an administrator working in the government of St. Kitts and Nevis’ sports department, Vernon Springer, along with his colleagues- none of whom he’s forgotten- Edgar Gilbert, Clement Hicks (and other coaches), conceptualised a “REGIONAL” 13 and under cricket tournament, which became a massive hit and a bedrock of hunting pure cricketing talent that could be shaped for senior teams, and eventually for the West Indies national cricket team.
With his friends and soldiers, such as Hayden Walsh Sr., Trever Shillingford, to name a few, the tournament found participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad, Barbados and the entirety of the Caribbean.
It is participation in these games that led one to unearth talents like Jason Holder, Shamarh Brooks and the current Test captain, the central figures driving the team forwards today.
Vernon Springer, one ought to know, has traveled the world covering various sports, not merely restricting himself to Cricket solely, the insightful man being an expert on Basketball, Netball, Athletics, among other things.
A man who’s never forgotten his mentors nor the great learning of his mother- who wished her son to create his own identity, Vernon Springer today is vastly identified as an outspoken, frank, assertive but never condescending voice on all things West Indies cricket.
It was that side of him the author of this piece personally experienced whilst co-authoring an article on the recent lost Test to Pakistan, where the bold man unwilling to hold himself back said in no uncertain terms that the current Test team needs to get their techniques right and play bold cricket whilst discarding the conservative approach.
Going as far as asking whether we (WI) get too uncomfortable whilst facing quality fast bowling, Vernon Springer’s assessment, truth be told, would’ve seemed an assimilation of profound observation and insight to a Lara, Sir Viv or the great Tony Cozier had he been around.
On any given day what would strike you most- above other things- is the childlike passion with which Mr. Springer commentates and broadcasts about Cricket yet never resorting to petulant cries or vile complaints even as his favourite cricket team lets him and the fans down at the back of a poor show.
When they didn’t play Cornwall and ignored Brooks in the Pakistan series, instead of making a show of it, Vernon Springer offered some insights over the caribbean radio shows. When he could’ve drenched his frustration in colorful expression, he practiced restrained, proving well that in an age of sledging you can still be a Rahul Dravid!
To the man who actually says, “I’m ordained to promote our people in the region and I shall never back out off supporting those who need my guidance, ” you can offer nothing less than a Sheldon Cottrell style salute to a dignified man, one of grace and humility, one who depends less on shenanigans and more on substance to unite the segregated islands of the West Indies!
Long live this hero from the Caribbean! We need to talk about him a great deal more than we do. We need to listen to his insights on the game with the same ferocity of passion with which we listen to our favourite music bands.