On Target
February 22, 2013

Are we selling our cricketing souls?

The announcement a few months ago of the start-up of a professional Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the subsequent detailing of the six franchises – the naming of the six franchise players who will add face to the competition, has come to many cricket administrators in the region as the best thing to happen since the advent of sliced bread.{{more}}

The franchise players are regional captain Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, as well as Sunil Narine, with the franchises being stationed in Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St Lucia.

Like the other T-20 competitions, the CPL has a window for international players to be drafted into the franchises.

Driven by the prospects of the 90 contracted players for the four weeks and some much needed funds into the economies of the region, the trumpeting has been almost deafening, with its decibels reverberating across the seas of the Caribbean region.

The $US multi-million venture, of course, is endorsed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). It takes over from the Caribbean T-20, and will indeed showcase the beauty of the Caribbean through the camera lens and beamed worldwide.

The CPL Twenty20 (T20) tournament, founded by chairman of Verus International Ajmal Khan, is the newest T-20 competition across the globe, on the tail wind of the lucrative Indian Premier League, the Australian Big Bash and the Bangladesh League.

Part of the windfall from the CPL is the substantial regional and global television audience, which will be accumulated from the 32 matches to be played in the 2013 staging, which runs from July 29 to August 26.

It is also expected that the CPL will have that carnival flair about it, offering one month of glitzy cricket, symptomatic with the region’s life and unbridled free flowing festive emotions.

Additionally, the tournament will see players being exposed to a more stable livelihood and having better opportunities to develop their craft.

But most worrying is the pronouncement of current president of the WICB Dr Julian Hunte, who in his unwitting revelry, stated that the CPL will transform the landscape of the region and take it into a new dimension.

Hunte and others who are seeing the CPL as a godsend, need not rack their brains too far, to seven years ago, when the now defunct Stanford T- 20 competition was touted to be the saviour and take the regional game back to the top of the world stage.

Unfortunately, Hunte and other decision makers are ready to accept “handouts”, and are quick the pass them off for cricket development in the Caribbean.

Yes, the West Indies won the World T-20 title in Sri Lanka last October and several players from this part of the world are hot commodities in their globe – trotting search for the highest paid contracts.

But, while the regional governing body of cricket is glad to give the players the green light to ply their trade around the world, as the board itself gets a cut from their proceeds, the annual four-day and super50 series continue to be below substandard.

It is understood that the board is unable to contract the players, hence some are free agents to seek employment where possible. The irony is glaring, with the usual intellectual deficient ambition that the West Indies can be world beaters again, sooner than later.

Hence, we are placing the emphasis in the wrong format, yet want to top test cricket; this just does not fit into any logical reasoning.

The four-day competition is a classic example of where we are in terms of talent and quality, or lack thereof, of cricket being served up as first class material.

Remember, two weeks ago, two of the better teams in the region, Barbados and Jamaica could not reach in excess of 200 in the four innings at one of the truest pitches – the Kensington Oval.

And, last weekend, the three-time Caribbean T-20 champions, Trinidad and Tobago, was dismissed for 86.

Could it be that our cricket has become so T-20ish, that the transformation cannot be made in the longer forms?

So, while we sing, dance and gallivant over the CPL, the West Indies will continue to languish at the bottom of the table on the world rankings.

Why keep fooling ourselves – because only fools break their own hearts.