On Target
July 18, 2008
The naked truth

All the long talk, ole talk, seminars, proposal of a cricket academy, Four year Strategic Plan, radio discussions, whining, you name it, as they relate to West Indies Cricket, are getting us nowhere.

We must conclude up front that our teams are weak, our cricket structure is weak, and those at the helm of West Indies cricket are weakest, to the point of administrative infirmity.{{more}}

Let us wake up from our prolonged slumber and admit that the West Indies will take a very, very, very long time before they can become world beaters again. And, I can boldly say not in my life time.

We mourn, criticise, lay blame, yet the region’s once pride and joy continues to be a regular and well attended pity party for us.

But it is the culture of inefficiency of the administrators of the extended boys club of the game here in the Caribbean that has caused people to lose faith in them, and by extension the players.

Many are of the view that the officers of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) are unprofessional and utterly hopeless.

Like birds of migration, the WICB officials seem only interested in scouring the region seeking the most incompetent people, and slotting them in some key portfolios. Their outstanding returns are maximising disgrace to the Caribbean peoples and the previously once heralded pride of being world champion.

At every venue, a host of men dressed in their jackets and ties, fancy titles, strutting around, feasting on the fatted calf, giving off an assembly line of inefficiency.

Ineffective sidescreens, non functioning electronic scoreboards, the full works, were evident in the last series involving Sri Lanka and Australia. And, the region was not spared by the foreign press, who had a field day on us.

Attendance at the grounds was poor, and that is most reflective of the lack of interest. People will pay for a good product, inclusive of good players and performances, but that was not to be in the recent series.

Our team, more in the One Day Series, looked like a group of persons involved in a goat match, on one of the run down pastures, somewhere in one of our beautiful islands.

The effect of the administrators is infectious as most of the players do not work hard on their game, as manifested in the way they are dismissed, their inability to read the state of play and employ critical thinking.

Here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we have embarked on the construction of Learning Resource Centers in the various constituencies.

The WICB may well do with a few.

The fact that Xavier Marshall did not know what to do with a “free hit” is the embodiment of our state of infancy at the game, that we stood second to none.

Similarly, Andre Fletcher, who has never even made his mark on Windwards cricket, found himself on the ODI team and got a run. Stop fooling the young man!

It was instructive that former senior team Manager, our own Mike Findlay, made revelations of some of the deficiencies and personal issues of players.

But the pain that we are currently experiencing was once faced by our opponents in our glory days. The shoe has been placed on the other foot, but it has been on so long that the region is getting toe jam, neatly put, calluses, or in Caribbean parlance “carn”.

Glum faces are a common sight around the Caribbean whenever the West Indies team plays, as more often than not they are on the losing end.

The current team and those of the recent past can be causative agents for some of the sociological problems the region’s peoples are faced with, as the once nugget of hope for us just serves up despair and helplessness.

And more doom shows, as there are some ominous signs, with those in the wings even more inept.

The current Under-19 Tournament speaks to where we are, as no exceptional talents are coming through. No youngster is being talked about the way Carl Hooper or Brian Lara was lauded two decades ago when they competed at that age level.

We thought at one point that we were scraping the bottom, but today, there is not even a barrel to scrape.

In the world rankings, only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are below us. The Zimbabweans are the only ones that we have been able to beat consistently in a test series for the past ten years. Our last major win in a test series over a team ranked higher than we was against Sri Lanka five years ago.

With our Cricket off the radar, thanks to the sprint merchants like Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt the Caribbean stands tall among the crowd at a world athletics forum. They at least bring some joy to us.

So many things are wrong with West Indies Cricket that to start to fix it brings additional headaches.

Like a gravedigger, we have to begin from the top and get rid of the top soil. Against the grains of Agronomy, the WICB’s top soil is causing retardation in the growth of the regional game. This must be top priority.

Getting to the root, from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south, grass roots and schools’ cricket must be given urgent attention, best facilities, most money, best coaches, as it has been proven, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

But haven’t all these been suggested in the past to no avail?

Also to no avail has been this column’s call for a removal of that Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field, which more looks like a piece of land suitable for some informal human settlement-squatting.

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