Does it really matter?
On Target
January 8, 2021
Does it really matter?

There were some rumblings among the few remaining persons who still have an interest in West Indies cricket, when 12 players opted not to tour Bangladesh.

Among those who refused the invite by the regional selectors were Test captain Jason Holder, along with One-Day and T/20 skipper Kieron Pollard, as well as other seasoned players such as Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Shamarh Brooks, Shimron Hetymer and Sheldon Cottrell. They cited the threats of the deadly coronavirus as the main reason for choosing not to travel with the regional outfit.

Their fears were substantiated by the over half million recorded infections in Bangladesh and the more than 7,000 deaths thus far, due of the virus.

In addition, the duo, Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich, thumbed personal reasons for not giving the regional selectors the green light.

The ten whose objection in reference to the coronavirus, made their decision in spite of Cricket West Indies sending a two-man team to Bangladesh to get first-hand knowledge of the security arrangements and other health protocols in that country, ahead of the West Indies tour.

What then followed was some persons bashing the players for being unpatriotic and disloyal to West Indies cricket. Others said that the players are only concerned with their bank accounts, rather than representing the West Indies.
There were also persons suggesting that there are other underlying reasons which weighed heavily on the players’ apprehension and ultimately, their final decision.

More so, the fact that some of the players instead had chosen to compete in a T/10 league in Abu Dhabi added some fuel, thus the question of their commitment to West Indies cricket was brought more into the mix.

To give credence to those who turned down the offer to go to Bangladesh, was the recent revelation that medium-fast bowler Romario Shepherd, has tested positive for the virus, and will not make the trip for the ODIs.

One though has to also factor in that these players have been playing for the West Indies since the pandemic with reduced salaries, hence buttering their bread elsewhere must be first and foremost in their best financial interest.

Hypocritical some are, lest they forget that the much revered Clive Lloyd and company were driven by the dollars during the late 1980s, when the game-changer Kerry Packer began remunerating players for their efforts on the field.

However, the current players were in their right to accept or reject the offer to go to Bangladesh, as the current pandemic, according to Cricket West Indies, allows them so to do. As such, those who refuse to tour in the circumstances, can do so without subsequent repercussions as it relates to future selection.

Not that what is happening in West Indies cricket and the fortunes of the team (s) really matter to Caribbean people that much, but one has to consider the feelings of the players.

Yes, cricket is their profession and employment comes with some tough and demanding conditions at times, but to be fair to the players, they would have endured the better part of a year living under bio-secure conditions.

Starting in England with tight lid environment, to the Caribbean Premier League, then to the Indian Premier League, before going off to New Zealand and to the Big Bash in Australia, having to live in those health bubbles were the order of the day for some of the players.

So to bash the players who chose not to tour Bangladesh for the two tests and the three ODI might be a bit unjust.

Their actions are not unprecedented, as there have been occasions where players in the past have skipped tours for various reasons.

In 2005, several players, included premier batsman Brian Lara, boycotted a tour of Sri Lanka.

Four years later, the West Indies were forced to field a team of basically unknowns to take on Bangladesh in a test series here in the Caribbean.

Then, it opened the doors for several players to make their names on the international scene and at least added some vital statistics to their resume.

The same can be said of those who placed their hands up and accepted the challenge, but more so the opportunity to show their wares in tests and the ODIs, in the absence of the first choices.

But does it really matter what is, or what is not happening in West Indies cricket, as the numbers who pay attention to what takes place with the once super power of cricket, is minuscule.

Despite the poor state of the sport in the region, cricket still has a pride of place in the psyche of a small sector of the Caribbean population, at home and in the Diaspora.