Dr. Fraser- Point of View
April 8, 2011
West Indies Cricket – On the field and beyond the boundary

Despite the far-fetched claims of some Caribbean leaders and politicians about how well their country is doing economically in face of the global economic crisis, we know that the reality is something completely different.{{more}}

The light at the end of the tunnel is not at all visible, and the common view is that our economic future is tied in with regional approaches. So we keep asking what is happening with the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. There is also a deep silence now about the successor to Carrington as CARICOM Secretary General, at this critical time when there is need for someone to guide the movement. Caribbean leaders spar across the waters over regional air transport, immigration and trade issues. Caribbean Cricket has become a scandal. The University of the West Indies is being hamstrung by the failure of Caribbean countries to live up to their commitments. Our people seem to have lost their energy and confidence. And so it goes on! My focus in this article, however, is on cricket.

It is hard for those of us who witnessed and remembered the golden era of West Indies cricket even to look at it these days. There are many persons who first of all check the scores on the Internet and then make a decision whether or not it is worth looking at.

For a long time now we took refuge in the view that we are at the stage of restructuring, but how long can we continue to take comfort in this? How long is this restructuring process supposed to take? And what is there to convince us that we are on a path of restructuring? We are going nowhere and doing so quickly.

Following the World Cup the government of Bangladesh announced that it was instituting an enquiry into their team’s performance. But what that amounted to was a focus on the manner of their defeat by the West Indies, or just simply, on their defeat by the West Indies. We should really have followed suit and put in motion an inquiry into our own performance. Is it that we have grown so accustomed to this kind of performance that investigations and inquiries are not even thought of?

Our games against England and Pakistan tell their own tale. Despite the view of many persons, I refuse to accept that ours has to do with lack of skills. Ours is mental. Their approach to these games gives us the impression that they are operating in a world all by themselves, completely oblivious to the fact that they have left behind them a nation of cricket lovers that once took pride in the glorious achievements of their players and look forward to a return to those days. But it is more than that. Our batsmen, in particular, leave their brains in the dressing rooms.

Chris Gayle approached the games in a T/20 mould. Two fours in an over, but he has to continue in this way. He is the opener. We are not in a situation where we are behind the clock. There is time. What goes through the guy’s head? But he has already hit two triple centuries in Tests, so he has the temperament. Sarwan is one of our senior players who should be able to take on the responsibility of holding the innings together. How do you describe the way he got out against England, especially given the circumstances of the game?

Really it was stupidity at a height! Our batsmen go into the wicket as if they have given no thought to the state of the game and to what is expected of them. Building an innings is foreign to many of them. It is as if they are playing what we call a ‘goat cook’ match and they are out there to please the fans sitting around the ground with a bottle of beer or a glass with rum in their hands. They do not understand the importance of turning the strike around and taking singles while awaiting the chance to hit the boundaries. It appears to be boundary or nothing at all. How pitiful!

The ‘Tiger’ has served us well. It is really time for him to leave. He has personal problems that are taking up all of his energy. It is sad to see this all happening when he is coming to the end of his cricketing career, but we have to move on.

I am really sorry for Darren Sammy. The captaincy of the West Indies team was thrust upon him. He stood like a Lilliputian among the other Captains. After all he has only played about 11 Test matches, granted he would have played a lot more ODI matches. He has taken on the burden of captaincy at a critical time in West Indies cricket. Sammy cannot command a place on the team. He has no special talents as a captain. His presence, in fact, unbalances the team. But he was given the responsibility of having to deal with a group of non-performers. In the midst of all of this, Julian Hunte assumed another term as President of the West Indies Cricket Board, unchallenged! Where else could this have happened? It is as if his period as President has been marked by some kind of brilliance and that our cricket is beginning to see its way out of the darkness that has engulfed it. One might argue that our problem is on the field. It is difficult to separate things this way. The administrators have to set up the context and the framework and provide the conditions that would usher in a new era in our cricket. This is not happening.

Coach Otis Gibson has blamed the senior players for the failures of the West Indies in the World Cup. This didn’t just come out of the blue. It would have been surely a surprise if we had done any better given what has been happening over the past years and tournaments. Gibson blows hot and cold. Sometimes to hear him talk you would think that he is dealing with a different team. But having said all of that we have to once more look to the future. Thank the senior players for their services and invest in the younger players.

There will not immediately be a turnaround but they can hardly do worse than what is happening now. But this is not all. There will have to be a strategy to carry the young players forward. Pakistan arrives here in another couple weeks. Let it all begin!

There is probably more to our cricketing dilemma. It might be argued that it is all beyond the boundary and that our cricket

parallels what is happening in the region. A region in crisis! A strong case can really be made for this. This is precisely why I started out by identifying some of the areas of concern in the region because they are not unrelated. They share the same roots, perhaps!

But that is another article!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.