Our Readers' Opinions
December 11, 2012

Change of attitude needed to safeguard WI cricket future

Tue, Dec 11, 2012

Editor: The mercurial West Indies cricket team continues to mystify pundits and infuriate fans. Their pathetic performances in the first two ODIs against lowly Bangladesh are a reflection of the state of cricket administration in the Caribbean.It’s also a microcosm of the evolving Windies cricketer from the anti-colonialism bastion to the contemporary mercenary for hire.{{more}} The fact that the last two major WI international triumphs were the Standford $20 million bonanza and the lucrative 2012 ICC T20 World Cup speak affluently about where the modern WI cricketer’s heart lies.

Our benign nature as cricket fans has hopelessly enabled the WICB to transform itself into an insensitive monster, to the extent that it is no more answerable to its cricketing public. In many cases, this arrogance has resulted in numerous tenable scenarios among the Board, its players and WIPA, often resulting in hefty financial settlements. This state of affairs is fuelled by the Board’s control over selection panels, team managers, coaches and captains, often dictating terms to the extent that there is limited autonomy. A “club of the elite” has since evolved where members look out for their self-interest at the expense of cricket development. Herein lies the nexus of the Windies woes.

So, inexplicable inclusions and omissions of players without justification have since become the norm. A most recent case in point is the selection of spinner Veerasammy Permaul ahead of a more seasoned and successful Shane Shillingford. As a future WI captain, Permaul’s selection is widely viewed as a Clyde Butts (selection Chairman) pick. Butts is given such luxury as payment for his loyalty to his buddies at the WICB. Isn’t it revealing that Mr Butts and his selection panel have been rewarded an extension of contracts, despite their muddled selection policy? The same can also be suspected of the selection (Courtney Browne’s pick?) of all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite ahead of Dellorn Johnson.

This polarization of WI cricket has unabatedly flourished under an insular Julian Hunte administration, principally energized by a contentious (immediate past CEO) Ernest Hilliare. The elevation of countryman Darren Sammy as captain in all three formats of West Indies cricket is a manifestation that a strategic developmental approach to WI cricket is not the primary objective of the WICB. Sammy is hard-pressed to command his place first as a player, yet he is given automatic selection, compliments his captaincy status. His manipulation of the team’s bowling changes to enhance and protect his bowling figures cannot be ignored.

Consequently, the checkered on-field WI performances must be analyzed against the backdrop of the myriads of off-field phenomena stymieing the progress of the maroon crusaders. Isn’t it unfair to expect success to be attained and sustained by a team without a unified thrust? How does the action of a coach who openly criticizes his players help to develop team chemistry? No wonder players have become increasingly selfish, playing for their places instead of their team.

Evidently, the growth of Windies cricket will remain dwarfed until a more professional approach is taken at all levels of its cricket hierarchy. Modern cricket superpowers like India and Australia have shown thus.

Collin CA$H Haywood