On Target
February 25, 2005
It’s not just about cricket

The Windwards find themselves in that position where they can squander an opportunity for the big time. Second spot on points standing at the end of the fifth round, gave Windwards supporters the distant belief that the team had turned the corner and was up to level of maturity so that they could hold their own in regional cricket. {{more}}

Windwards seem to produce the occasional top quality player, naturally gifted to forge his way into any West Indies squad.

Alfie Roberts, Irvine Shillingford, Grayson Shillingford, Michael Findlay, Winston Davis, Ian Allen, Nixon McLean, Cameron Cuffy, of former times, and Rawle Lewis, Junior Murray, Devon Smith and Darren Sammy of current vintage, spring to vision. And there are others who remain grounded on the periphery owing to the considerable talent that was around then. Or was it that familiar line?

Vincentian Frank O. Mason’s tale is a well used one. He was thought to have been one of the best fast bowlers in his time. The account of his bowling the late Sir Frank Worrell is one moment in time that remains carved in the memory and folklore of many Vincentians.

Dawnley Joseph, Lance John, Uzzah Pope, Linton Lewis, also of Vincentian fame may have been born in the wrong time or place. As did St. Lucian Ignatius Cadet, and Dominican Lockhart Sebastien.

My list would not be thorough by any stretch of the imagination. Readers will remind me of others whom I omitted.

But there is that familiar story of Windwards’ players having to work that extra to capture the eye of the West Indies selectors. And that is usually after consistent prodding by that individual and embarrassing displays by the proteges from the so-called ‘Big Islands.’

Windwards as a unit seem to lack the discipline and cohesion as say for example the Combined Islands did. But then that might have been a case of sheer talent manifesting itself into a combination.

For if the question of insularity could be one that pervades selection, chances are that it would have been more widespread with the Combined Islands.

Maybe the era has transformed dramatically, and the sense of ‘dog eat dog’ mentality has taken deeper root, throughout the region.

Despite our quest to come to grips with the demands for regional integration, as natural as night follows day, we in the Caribbean continue to display the trend that division, ‘mashing up’ destroy, feud and disorder must characterise us.

The West Indies cricket team, the most evident symbol of regionalism seems under threat from the very trait of selfishness, and lack of appreciation of the ‘bigger picture,’ a vision whose fulfillment has long exceeded its realisation.

So the debacle that the Windwards continue to portray, comes in almost the same depths of gloom and despair which the Senior West Indies squad have exposed us to. The dust of the pathetic VB Triangular Series in Australia last January have scarcely settled when winds blow them all over the globe that has left our Caribbean legacy terribly eroded.

We would like to hope that the trauma to which we have been subjected as cricket fans is over. But the reality is before our eyes. Whereas we may have resigned to delivery of far from acceptable displays from our teams, having gone through the era of the fifties and sixties, for the last breed of die hard cricket fans, and the seventies, and eighties when we learned the trod up the mountain side the hard way, the generation of the nineties seemed to have surrendered to mediocrity. The grit, self-belief, pride, and awareness lacking by our cricketers, and I dare say sport persons on a whole, are partly responsible for our casual approach. That seems to apply not only to sports, but to the entire spectrum of life. And only too late will we realise that we have a golden opportunity to represent the region with discipline and restore our dignity.

Our sportsmen have to put heart and soul into it and recognise that besides playing their part in our historical revival, they owe a duty to us, the fans and cricket lovers out here who follow and watch their every plunder and blunder.