Colonialism reeks over our cricket

Poor Team Performance
The West Indies cricket team has been particularly poor in terms of performance over the past several years. For more than a decade we seem to have gone into the doldrums with little hope of taking ourselves out of the quagmire in which we are immersed; at least, not by ourselves.
There were times when for some strange reason we thought that it was a matter of the coaching. We tried several coaches, some with prior training in the particular field while others were simply former players with no real training. Throughout it all the administrators failed to grasp that internationally coaching had long since become a science and that persons had to be systematically trained for the job then afforded the experience of working along through the system. This was not the case in the West Indies.
Like our politicians the leadership of the West Indies Cricket Board, WICB, thought that the Nescafe methodology–simply add water and stir–would have been adequate. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
We also thought that the problem was with the manager of the team and again, as we have done in regional politics, we allowed the various affiliates of the WICB to take turns at identifying persons to manage the West Indies team. That approach also proved useless since many were not sport managers nor had they any training in this scientific field.
There were times when we thought that it was a problem of the captaincy and so we tried one player after another never giving adequate consideration of the importance of training players for captaincy. Perhaps we held the view that captains were born not made and so we paid the price. In all of this the peoples of the region were left to be loyal paying consumers of whatever the WICB and the team doled out in abundance – consistently poor performances.
For its part the WICB saw itself above reproach and the presidency changed hands almost as some people change clothes, never concerned about the cost to anyone. The reality is that the WICB remains to this day as much a part of the problem of the team’s poor performances as are the players and team management, all bordering on the incompetent.

Colonial Mentality
The WICB has consistently been something of a colonial relic throughout its history. Indeed a brief review of the WICB itself would reveal the way it was constituted over time. In some cases the body had as a country’s representative a club, invariably one that practised a sort of whites-only policy. One had to search almost forever to find a black person in their midst, for a very long time.
Cricket historians would readily point to the challenges that Frank Worrell posed to the way West Indies teams were treated during that fateful tour to Australia in the 1950s.
While we may feel proud as a people over the challenges posed back then and appreciate the changing of the colour guard in the game since then and of the membership of the WICB from different affiliates, we must remain concerned about the legacy of those decades of colonialism in our cricket.
There may well be reason enough for us to declare that while the affiliates of the WICB come from independent nations for the most part little has changed in respect of the impact and pervasiveness of the colonial legacy in the sport in the Caribbean.
The list of presidents of the WICB speak to this in many ways too numerous to address here.
There remains a divide and rule mode of operation within the WICB that leaves the smaller islands underrepresented at all levels of decision-making with little recourse to redress this untenable situation.
The WICB operates more like a secret lodge than a regional organisation operating in the best interest of those who play the game.
Whilst in sport it is generally recognised that the most important component is always the athletes since without them there can be no sport, the reverse seems to be true in respect of the way cricket is administered in the region.
The WICB’s best bet seems always to be those who best exemplify the noble tradition of the former colonial master.
When the West Indies team seemed to be in the throes of despair we turned to the Australians for Bennett King and his team. Not surprisingly we did not consider it necessary to have any West Indians understudy then so that we could take charge following the completion of their tenure with the team.
When King expressed the desire to leave the team following the World Cup, we in turn appealed for him to stay a while to deal with the establishment of the Cricket Academy.
Even when WICB President, Ken Gordon, expressed his own wish to leave following the decidedly poor CWC2007, the inner circle prevailed on him not to go as yet.
Now we have the great Clive Lloyd suggesting that we turn to England for a new coach.
Lloyd is yet to explain to us the role he played in the West Indies early exit from the CWC2007, but he can put his foot in his mouth with a suggestion of where next we should turn for coaching assistance.
We should not be surprised that Lloyd does not point inward, towards the West Indies, after all, he has achieved his place in cricketing history and may well have found living outside the region more suited to him and his plans, much like our Nobel laureates, Derek Walcott and Vidia Naipaul.
Of course they all have seemingly laudable explanations for their choice of residence outside of the Caribbean. It all seems to make sense to them. The region, however, laments their absence.
We perhaps need to congratulate Gary Sobers for his presence in the region although we remain concerned about his overall contribution to the West Indies cricket team and to West Indies Cricket more generally.

More of the Same
Our region is so confused about the role
of cricket in our contemporary social, political and economic circumstance, especially in the aftermath of the CWC2007 that the current tour of England does not hold out much appeal.
Of course there are some journalists who, perhaps for the need to place food on the table, continue to suggest that each time the team makes some runs after watching England easily attain 553/5 over a two-day period, the team is about to turn the corner.
Perhaps it is that they are so anxious to see change of any sort that they continue to be overly optimistic even as they witness no sensible development strategy being undertaken by the WICB.
The governments of the region are all too shame-faced to take full blame for their eager passage of the Sunset legislation, which they somehow thought a passage to economic bullion in the age of despair that was the CWC2007.
Cricket, once a popular sport in the region in terms of numbers playing the game is now relegated to a much lower status in almost every Caribbean country. The CWC2007 has done nothing to impact this otherwise.
Consistent with its colonial legacy the game of cricket in the West Indies continues to leave us great infrastructure that cannot pay for itself by the sports usage alone. They all look good. We will boast of their looks for many years to come even as we ask taxpayers to meet their cost, first of construction, then the cost of maintenance. In the meantime the ones who best meet the criteria as established by the colonial masters of the game will continue to rise to the top, the region will remain divided and the West Indies will reflect the selfishness that characterises the politicians that hold responsibility for their respective brands of governance.