January 9, 2015
2014 cricket review – Part 2

The on-field results of the West Indies team over the past year continued in the trend already established for more than a decade — fleeting glimpses of hope only for those hopes to be crushed in the doom of reality. The once-mighty world champions ended the year at the wrong end of the international cricket rankings, just above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.{{more}}

So accustomed have we become to failure that we even began to celebrate the “recovery” in our cricket fortunes for having won three of seven Tests played (three lost also) and a win-loss ratio of seven to six in One-day Internationals. On closer scrutiny, two of the three Test victories came against Bangladesh, as did three of the four wins in ODIs, with a fourth against Ireland. Hardly inspiring!

On an individual level, for all the hype about the supposed “superstars” of West Indies cricket, performances hardly matched the star billing. On the Test level, only the young Kraigg Brathwaite of Barbados (701 runs at an average of just over 77 per innings) and the evergreen, but ageing Shiv Chanderpaul made significant contributions with the bat. The “Big Two” pairing of Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo were average and just below average performers.

At the ODI level, new skipper Dwayne Bravo justified his promotion with an all-round showing, being second only to new Test captain Denesh Ramdin (516 runs at 57 per innings) and grabbing 20 wickets to boot. Strangely, but not so surprising to those familiar with West Indies cricket, the second most successful bowler, Ravi Rampaul, could not get the selectors’ nod either for South Africa or next month’s World Cup.

Mediocrity at all levels appears to be the distinguishing mark of West Indies cricket, as exemplified by statistics from all the major competitions domestically. Is it any wonder that fan support has dwindled so badly?

But this hardly seems to be of concern either to our international stars, making dollars on the international T20 circuit, or the administrators, more concerned about the lucrative television deals than the foundations of Caribbean cricket. Those without access to cable television can now rarely see West Indies live and regional and domestic cricket cannot even make the radio airwaves. As for promotion, who cares? As long as the TV dollars flow into the WICB coffers.

Indeed, the West Indies Cricket Board, like most other national bodies, have placed dollars before principle, in acceding to the undemocratic abandoning of the parity arrangements by agreeing to demands that the “Big Three” of international cricket, India, Australia and England, should have a free hand in running the game, promising tours and television dollar funding in return.

That was the other major development of 2014, as distasteful as the aborted West Indies tour of India. Ironically, Caribbean cricket offended the principal to which it has sold its biblical “mess of pottage.” (Part one of this review was published in Midweek Searchlight on January 6, 2015)