Our Readers' Opinions
April 8, 2005
Bringing shame to cricket

EDITOR: I watched over the last five months with a great sadness at the situation, which is accelerating the state regional cricket into the stadium of shame and embarrassment.

The situation is compounded by the obvious weakness of some men displayed in the past. I need not state names but history will examine individuals and document their shortcomings.{{more}}

Over the years the West Indies Cricket Board has been chastised for lax attitude in dealing with players.

The 1998 tour of South Africa and the Brian Lara scenario in England in 1995 are cases when the Board was accused of being indecisive.

Now it has taken a firm stance, people are saying that the action is too harsh. There must be a start and the best time is rife with the World Cup two years away.

It is amazing that persons are calling for action to be taken against Cable & Wireless and Digicel: “the two foreign companies who are bent on returning colonialism to the Caribbean.”

It is unfortunate that persons have allowed themselves to analyse the situation when they are pregnant with emotionalism and not open to sober thoughts.

Yes we agree that Brian Lara is the best batsman in the world on the day when he is committed to playing the game, but Caribbean Cricket came before him and will remain after him – well hopefully.

However, the West Indies Cricket Board has a five-year sponsorship with Digicel worth US$20 million.

While many persons are unclear about the pros and cons of the Cable & Wireless exit, Digicel’s advent and WICB’s method and procurement, the major objective is to rebuild a team that would get us smiling again.

This is not to say we should not see who are the culprit and villain in the present miasma.

Did Cable and Wireless knowingly sign “the most talked about” (not necessarily the best) West Indies cricketers to contracts which may have jeopardised their future in West Indies colours under a rival company?

Was the contract signed between the WICB and Digicel done in a way, which would hinder the players from making a few bucks off the field?

The answers to these questions may help us to get a clearer picture of “Sports Espionage” and how much love some persons have for West Indies cricket.

It must also be noted that the WICB had warned the players not to sign any contracts unless it (WICB) was given an idea of the type of contracts.

The suggestion by Dr. Keith Mitchell is unworkable because it is tantamount to putting bandage on a gangrene-infected limb. At times it is better to amputate the affected limb and save the patient’s life.

The contracts that we have all been able to see tell us that there is no possibility of a co-existence, so the WICB has got to preserve its sponsorship and in the belief of many it took the right decision.

The players who have got such contracts with Cable & Wireless need not be bothered about incentives in the Digicel package for winning because win or lose they get monies on their endorsements and match fees!

It is time that we level the playing field and let everyone show a commitment to West Indies cricket on the field and off it with one voice and one objective – to win and be the best again.

The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) must also take blame for some problems with what is seen by some as its confrontational attitude.

The fact is that the WICB is broke and would get more broke according to projections. So while we understand that Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Ricky Pontin, Glen McGrath, Sachin Tendulkar and Shaun Pollock are raking in seven figure sums annually, our team has not been winning as the teams of those players. Therefore the West Indies players are not going to attract the same salaries and endorsements.

We also cannot ask the WICB to pay what it does not have. As we know, there are fixed rates on Test matches and One Dayers; unlike in the past when teams were allowed to workout their own arrangements with a share of television rights being part of the deal.

The first Test is on and I, like all bona fide West Indians, will be following the strokes and deliveries with the usual passion – smiling, frowning, swearing in typical West Indian way.

Everyone will be in total agreement that Shiv Chanderpaul is a true servant of West Indies cricket and, whatever the outcome, let us hope that we have some future GSM (Great Sports Men) in the making.

E. Glenford Prescot