Another WICB failed experiment

105362The recently concluded test series between Bangladesh and the West Indies ended at the Queen’s Park, St George’s, Grenada, on Monday last in the most humiliating defeat yet to be registered in the annals of the region’s cricketing history.
Whatever happens in West Indies Cricket in the future would not possibly compensate for the colossal embarrassment of suffering a 2 – 0 series defeat at the hands of lowly-placed Bangladesh.
There are not many Cricketers alive or dead who would ever have imagined that the West Indies would have faltered so badly that a loss to Bangladesh was ever on the cards.

The teams

The West Indies claims to have lost many of its star players but so too did Bangladesh. Too many are apt to ignore the fact that Bangladesh also lost seven key players to the International Premier League in India. They were unceremoniously banned.
The West Indies certainly found itself in a quandary. The desire to utilise junior players who were looming on the horizon, like Adrian Bharat, for example, backfired as they too stood by the West Indies Players Association. Perhaps it is a case of them understanding the modus of West Indies Cricket amongst the players such that t hey do not wish to be ostracised by their senior counterparts when the current impasse is resolved.
The West Indies team was completely embarrassed on the field of play by the Bangladesh team. While the commentators did their best to shore up those listening and viewing at home the reality on the field was a putrid affair. The defeat in the second and final test in Grenada on the fourth day reflects the paucity of the sport in the Caribbean.
For all the claims to be on the improve Caribbean Cricket has not really gone very far.
The team that took to the field in both test matches lacked the capacity to deliver anything better than we saw in our receipt of two embarrassing defeats. None of the batsmen displayed the level of confidence that would enable any of them to be on a West Indies first eleven any time soon. If they do make it we should hang our heads in shame. The same can be said of the bowlers.
What we saw in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada was two lowly ranked teams competing for honours and we lost.
What we had in the two aforementioned countries was another failed West Indies Cricket Board experiment.

Caribbean supporters

Supporters of Caribbean Cricket are certainly not fools. This was exemplified in their refusal to be conned into watching fourth-rate Cricket in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, In both instances the avid Cricket fanatics to which we have grown accustomed steered clear of the competition venues because they were well aware that they were not going to be given their money’s worth.
The West Indies Cricket Board should not now claim losses in terms of gate receipts. They could never have been expecting huge attendances given the two teams involve din the encounter even before the impasse with WIPA. At the local level we have witnessed absolutely no attendance at our Cricket matches.
Some time ago in St Vincent and the Grenadines, ECGC withdrew its support for the One Day Competition because it could not have continued to account for its investment in it. There were not enough supporters in attendance and to whom the Marketing Department of the Company could have distributed the promotional materials, such was the embarrassment.
The longer version of the local competition attracts more cars than supporters. The cars belong to the players and match officials. The story is virtually the same except perhaps for parts of Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
Cricket enthusiasts have long since ceased to attend the regional four-day and one-day competitions. Television coverage seems to have learnt the art of not showing the empty seats in the various stands around the Caribbean.
The WICB has failed to engender any initiatives that appear even remotely directed at addressing the issue of declining attendance at Cricket played in the Caribbean. Indeed they stood in awe at the Stanford experience and may well have considered its appeal largely a result of the huge sums of money pumped into it. Stanford did not pay for the paying patrons to attend the matches.
Caribbean supporters of Cricket, like patrons anywhere in the world, do not have unlimited time to waste. In today’s world they are concerned about getting value for their money. The local and regional versions of the game of Cricket have long since ceased to provide them with reason to adorn the chairs at the competition arena. When things change and they believe that there is a chance of witnessing some excitement and elegant play they are sure to be out in their numbers. Unfortunately the WICB is yet to understand this reality.

Caricom laughter

The decision by the WIPA leadership to call for the intervention of Caricom generated great laughter for this Columnist.
Caricom has revealed itself to be as moribund as the WICB itself. The one commonality in both organisations is the fact that the leadership seem to think and behave in the same manner.
Caricom failed to effect change in regional Cricket when Keith Mitchell was heralded as the head of the organisation’s Special Committee on Cricket. There is really nothing to show for all of his own efforts and seeming bravado.
Caricom has displayed absolutely no genuine commitment to sport and physical education in the Caribbean. The organisation does not even appear capable of understanding the importance of physical education and sport to the physical and mental well being of our people. This was most evident in the nonsense ‘Wellness Revolution’ that was touted some years ago and which has gone absolutely nowhere.
Caricom has yet to come to an appreciation of physical education and sport as important to the process of development. The organisation’s interaction with several regional and international organisations has not yielded any change in this regard.
Given the weakness of Caricom itself in respect of taking the cause of regional integration anywhere the appeal from WIPA for the organisation’s intervention can at best be deemed particularly laughable.
Cobwebbed dossiers
For several years the WICB has been in receipt of one study after another addressing the problems confronting the game in the region. Some claim that all of these reports are collecting dust ion cobwebbed cupboards somewhere in the Caribbean.
Perhaps the reality is that the WICB has never allowed itself to become a professional organisation. Each time that we appear to be on the threshold of professionalism we are brought squarely in touch with reality. We are simply not ready.
For several years while being President of the Windward Islands Cricket Board it often appeared to the casual observer that Julian Hunte attempted to garner enough votes to ascend to the Presidency of that organisation. He has finally attained the top spot following a very long absence from any of the regional Boards. Unfortunately, Hunte appears to have brought nothing new to the WICB. What we are seeing is more of the same and the rest of the Board appear as moribund as their predecessors.
What has happened to the many Reports that have been presented to the WICB over the years?
Why have we not heard of the systematic implementation of any of the recommendations of previous Reports?
Has any Board, previous and present, ever really understood the changing face of Cricket and the extent to which the WICB remains so remarkably far behind?
One can hazard a guess that the answers to the aforementioned questions lie in the fact that the very structure of the organisation remains backward and the leadership of the various Boards behave almost like Caribbean political leaders – too eager to protect what they perceive to be their own little place in history.
The structure of sporting organisations has long since changed to be in tune with the rapidly progressive nature of the enterprise. Cricket is no different. Had the WICB been examining the changes that have taken place within the sport in different parts of the world and how the respective governing bodies have managed change the game would certainly have made more rapid progress in the Caribbean. This has not happened, unfortunately.

The dynamics of international sport these days suggest that they ensure the emergence of new and successive breeds of oligarchs. We have seen this at the level of almost every major sport regardless of where it is played. WICB is no different.
The time has come for some serious house-cleaning to take place. West Indies Cricket is in the hands of a sporting organisation called the West Indies Cricket Board. Cricketers must begin to ensure that the clubs to which they belong become professional units that can effect change. They must ensure that the people who represent them at the local and regional levels are competent and professional in the delivery of the sport to which they have all committed themselves. Only then can we expect to reverse the sad and blighted trend thst currently plagues West Indies Cricket.