Perth: Cricketers and books may not be best buddies but the West Indies team does have a lot of avid readers, including current captain Jason Holder, and their favourite book is Nelson Mandela's autobiography.
West Indies team's media manager Phillip Spooner revealed the reading habits of his players. "Nelson Mandela is the biggest icon not only for the entire black community but whole world. His book 'Long Walk To Freedom' is an inspirational book for everyone.
Our captain Jason is now reading the book. I saw Sulieman Benn buy the book recently. It's a hit among our cricketers," Spooner said during the sidelines of West Indies' training sessions. He then recollected a funny anecdote.
"Once a gentlemen came to me with a bat seeking an autograph of Chris Gayle in it. It was a vintage piece of bat as I could make out after seeing the wood. I saw there was one autograph on the bat which was quite legible. I asked the gentleman, "Is it Nelson Mandela's autograph?" He said "yes" and I said then why do you need any other autograph on this bat."
Spooner then fondly remembered how the entire West Indies team once went to Mandela's house in Soweto a few years before he passed away during a tour. "We actually invited ourselves," he said laughing. "We were in Mandela's city and we all decided, Let's impose ourselves on him. He won't be able to refuse us.
He did spend some time with us," said the media manager. "South Africa is a country which is very close to heart of Caribbean people. May be our island nations are also dominated by black people and that is why we could relate with their joys and sorrows. Whenever our team goes to South Africa, we ensure that we do some kind of community service for the people over there. It creates a good feeling," said Spooner.
"Once, during an international match, we had invited 25 kids from Soweto, who came to watch us play. But yes, it all starts with the reverence and respect we have for Mandela."