On Target
April 1, 2005
Caribbean – A zone of heat

There is always something happening in the Caribbean, and it takes place in traditional tropical fashion. That normally entails some deal of heat. For the region is known for its generation of fervour. That comes in different forms. In addition to the climatic factors, matters surface with such ferocity that they cause some outsiders, unfamiliar with the culture of the region to cringe in fear of the West Indian’s reaction.

The average home fanatic responds to their team’s performance in passionate and emotional ways. {{more}}

With the varied base of the squad, there is always and also the potential for tendencies of insularity.

Our cricket team has remained the most poignant symbol of regional unity, a reality that has evaded us at the political level. But which however, the citizens have manifested in forms without having to gain approval from any political directorate.

West Indian folks have always made their decisions, independent of influence from the authorities, except from the Almighty. A look at the inter-regional marriages, unions and other connections that are commonplace suffices.

But we have crossed a new frontier, for which perhaps the regional decision-makers have not been prepared.

The West Indies Cricket Board will have to take some responsibility for the ongoing dilemma affecting the cricket squad. Matters with the contracts ought to have been settled before final announcements of any new developments were made.

The first Test against South Africa was expected to start yesterday Thursday at Bourda Guyana with a new look party.

The sentiments are mixed as to the fall out of the conflict involving the two foreign telecommunications companies.

How the West Indies Cricket Board allowed the situation to reach that stage discloses some ineptitude on their part. And the impact has left a scar on the development of the sport.

We in the Caribbean, the captive basin for the West Indies cricket team have gone through colonialism, slavery, and neo-colonialism and are seeing the growth of an infant democracy. Workers in the Caribbean have been known to exist on meagre earnings. The struggle to break out of poverty has been the main plank of many policy makers.

Avenues for escape have been sought, and cricket and sports for that measure, have surfaced as routes to achieve this end.

The Caribbean has also been known as a region of relative industrial calm. Efforts have been maintained to ensure workers’ respect. The West Indian cricketers, who have become embroiled in an industrial conflict have exposed the uneven nature of our negotiation machinery.

It is a great pity that the issue has mushroomed with such effect on the verge of the region’s hosting the world’s most prestigious cricket competition. Optimism is high that the conflict will be solved sooner rather than later, and that it will have little disruption on the staging of ICC World Cup in 2007.

In the meanwhile, fans view the new-look West Indies squad with some apprehension. They would resign themselves to the fact that at least; things can’t get worse than they had been.

But whatever the settlement, the West Indies Cricket Board will have to pay closer attention to the rights of the region’s cricketers. Their ability to earn must be observed and allowed to flourish.

Similarly, the cricketers will have to shoulder their responsibility and realise that they owe their fans some obligation to deliver. Or at least make an effort to be competitive and give the region the satisfaction that even though they died, they did so fighting.

There is no easy way out of the contract conflict, for few thrusts in the direction of compromise appear on the horizon.

The players are needed, and the best ones indeed. The Board must carry out its duties in open and transparent fashion, with accountability to someone.

And with the politicians apparently powerless to affect the outcome, matters seem set to droll on with moments of relapse and temporary adjustments.