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St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association

Executive Committee
President – Mr. Kishore Shallow ~ Vice President – ~ Treasurer

Email: ~ Telephone: +784 457 2970

West Indies and the Mack Truck

The West Indies cricket team remains at the forefront of the consciousness of our people in the Caribbean if only because of what the game has come to mean for successive generations.
Despite the changing behaviour of our youth the reality still remains that like their fore-parents they maintain an interest in the fortunes of the cricket team.
For the older generations, the team retains its role in terms of its representative nature. It represents the aims and aspirations of generations of West Indians as we aspire to take what we perceive to be our rightful role in the international community.
When the West Indies began playing test cricket the region needed an institution that brought our people together in our own best interest. The West Indies cricket, therefore, was seen as representing all of us in the region regardless of size. Interestingly the organisation reflected the state of the region in every period. When race was a factor impacting our respective societies the team reflected it.
When the blacks in the region sought to lay claim to equal standing in Caribbean society this too was reflected in the internal struggles of the team.
Many will recall the role of Frank Worrell when he stood up for the unity of the team in Australia when the host nation sought to impose their racism on the visitors amongst whom were some whites who appeared only too anxious to comply. Worrell’s action changed the course of the way things were done in the organisation for all time but this was only possible because it occurred within the wider context of the social changes being ushered in at all levels in the Caribbean.
Today too the West Indies cricket team reflects the state of things in the various societies of the Caribbean. The continuing wrangling that occurs within the sport in the region and in the team itself is but a microcosm of what is happening in the society at large. In this regard, the move towards Caribbean integration remains as adrift today as it has ever been with the leaders of the respective governments still at the stage of wanting to be little King Tots.
The cricket enthusiasts in the Caribbean want to see the team do well without necessarily appreciating to the full the importance of the team to the well being of the region. When the team does well we feel a sense of achievement. It is as though we have done well ourselves. In this regard, the team is an embodiment of all that we want for ourselves as a people. We year after international recognition and success.
Caribbean people now boast of the number of Nobel laureates from this region. We proudly lay claim to anyone from the Caribbean who gains international recognition in whatever field of endeavour even in cases where the individual does not reside here and has long since given up citizenship of their original home in the region, so anxious are we for success.
It is in the context of the foregoing that we can begin to understand why it is that our people are so anxious to see every hint of a return to former glory by the West Indies team as much more than a ray of hope.
Not surprisingly, the recent performances by the team in the series against Australia led some of the region’s more experienced journalists to fall prey to the blighted concept: ‘We have turned the corner’. The reality has been so often that whenever we turn the corner we seem to run into a big ugly Mack truck.

Test series versus Australia
The recent test series against Australia saw the West Indies team suffer yet another defeat, going under by a 0 – 2 margin.
The first defeat was in the first test and it was a very humiliating one. It was what many expected to happen.
The West Indies then seemed to have performed well enough to have the cricketing world and many West Indians impressed given the closeness of the result. Of course, there are those who would readily suggest that the West Indies should have won two test matches leaving the series 2 – 1 in their favour.
What went wrong?
The response to the aforementioned question is simple. The same things that have been going wrong for a very long time continued. The team is not yet the fighting unit that it ought to be if it is to be recognised by the international cricketing community.
Perhaps the best thing to emerge in the recent test series against Australia is the seeming coming of age of Adrian Bharat. The young man has been impressive since his first Under 15 tournament. He was considered too young to be taken on board with the Under 19s because some of those involved in the decision making process thought that age was a factor in performance. They may well have done him a grave disservice. This is not the first time that this has happened and unless a radical change takes place it certainly would not be the last.
Bharat’s batting drew superlatives from some of the best cricket writers around the game today. He is already seen as an accomplished fielder close to the bat in the tradition of some of the game’s greats and his batting has given hope for the future not just of West Indies cricket but the sport in general.
But we have been there before. We have had immensely talented athletes make the West Indies team and not be afforded the guidance that is necessary for them to realise their full potential. The authorities sat idly by while taking Brian Lara around the world with his immense talent claiming that he was too young and waiting on Hooper to deliver on his promise. At the same time, Lara was exposed to all of the bad habits of the leaders of the game on and off the field of play before joining their ranks in the middle. One wonders whether the same fate awaits Bharat.
The WICB has been rather adept at keeping the behaviour of some of our players away from the mainstream media but many are aware of it nonetheless.
While there is talk about the Academy it is being touted as something new without paying due tribute to the initial efforts undertaken by the St  George’s University in Grenada and the Barbadian Sports Psychologist, the gaping hole that exists in the finances of the WICB leaves one pondering just how the plans will be paid for.
Kemar Roach
This young Barbadian paceman has already shown signs that he can become one of the best we have seen in this part of the world for some time. He is not of the badly behaved crowd of pacers of the recent past. His approach to the game seems far more sturdy and studied.
During the recently concluded test series, Roach impressed with his pace. He certainly made a name for himself with his attention to Ricky Pointing, the Australian captain who was left very uncomfortable against the Barbadian.
Roach seems to have the potential to go on to great things if he receives appropriate attention in respect of his growth and development as a pace bowler. He loves the game and enjoys beating the batsmen and taking wickets, all important ingredients for a genuine pacer.
Dwayne Bravo
Dwayne Bravo again showed that he is easily the most accomplished all-rounder in West Indies cricket for some time. He is a tremendous fielder, an accomplished batsman and at times the most dangerous of our bowlers.
Bravo has show tremendous grit and competence in every version of the game and has become one of the most important players on the West Indies team.
Bravo as been able to consistently break important bating partnerships in any form of the game. He has the capacity to transform a game at any stage. He can be relied upon to create vital opportunities for his team.
There is a sense that once Bravo has the ball in hand he can bring about radical change in the nature of any match being played.

The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has emerged as one of the most maligned institutions by cricket supporters in the region who have not taken the time to understand the organisation and its role in the development of the sport in the Caribbean.
It is unfortunate that too many of the fans look only at the success rate of the team and on this basis arrive at the conclusion of the players being greedy. They do not examine the terms and conditions of their employment with the WIUCB and make appropriate comparisons with teams across the globe.
Throughout the world, cricketers have moved from amateur status to professionals. This has many implications.
While some seem to think that the players are greedy this is very far from the truth. They are amongst the lowest paid amongst test playing nations.
Bravo has chronicled in an interview the horrors of being injured only to be saddled with all of the expenses for his treatment and recovery. The contractual arrangements did not appear to cover this for him and the other players.
A closer examination of the contracts that players of several of the other test playing nations have with their players would reveal the shameful lack of respect that the WICB has for our players.
For whatever reason the WICB continues to see itself as custodians of the game who must not be challenged. Nothing has changed in terms of the way the WICB operates. It is the ‘same khaki pants’. Modernisation has not yet made it to the WICB.
The game in the region has regressed if only because the leadership are all fossilised to the extreme.
There are times when it appears that the WICB is itself a massive Mack truck that stands in the way of the progressive development of the sport in the region and of the team itself.
For West Indies cricket the recently concluded tour of Australia revealed more of the same. The team has some very good individual players yet to be moulded into a fighting machine good enough to match strides with the best and earn the respect of the international community instead of the inconsistent ‘rag-tag’ band that now exists.
The WICB needs to be rid of its fossilised status and get with the times and the new thinking. This is one institution for whom R & D are yet to mean something. – Keith Joseph

January 08, 2010

Lessons from TnT in Champions League

The champions of the last Stanford 20/20 cricket competition amongst teams from the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, were invited to participate in the T20 Champions League in India, an event that only just concluded and in which the Trinidadians emerged second-placed finishers to the powerful New South Wales team from Australia.
Many cricket enthusiasts in the Caribbean the Trinidadians were followed as though they were the West Indies. Many told of their eagerness to know the fortunes of the team at every turn.
The performance of the Trinidad and Tobago team at the Champions League has many lessons for us in the Caribbean and this Column seeks to address some of them. The list is by no means an exhaustive one.

Development strategy
Over the past few years, Trinidad and Tobago have engaged in a new arrangement for the development of sport. Where some countries have established National Sport Councils Trinidad Tobago has established The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago – SPORTT. This institution began essentially as a financing arm of the government for the development of sport.
It is from the SPORTT that the several national sports associations submit their annual budgets which are in turn assessed and funding provided based on merit. In more recent times the SPORTT has been involved in infrastructural development. This was the case with much of the preparatory work for the ill-fated Inaugural Caribbean Games. For the latter event, it was also the case that the SPORTT was responsible for the acquisition of the necessary equipment for the respective competitions
Cricket itself has been involved in serious developmental work in the twin-island Republic. There has been the establishment of a Cricket Academy based at Balmain, in Central Trinidad, complete with Indoor and Outdoor Nets, a competition Cricket Ground and a hostel.
Over the past several years what we have witnessed is a systematic approach to the development of the game in Trinidad and Tobago. Several clubs have attracted players from around the Caribbean to play in the local league. Some clubs have established their own Cricket Academies, seeking out talented children and honing their skills over time armed with a progressive programme. There is regular competition of different types that attract youngsters to play frequently. There are also camps for the senior players with great frequency.
Time together
The majority of the players on the Trinidad and Tobago team that went to India recently have been playing together for some time. Many of them were involved in the regional four-day series for the past few years as well as the KFC One Day competition. They are the same players who were involved in the two editions of the Stanford 20/20 competition.
Playing together allows the players to know each other very well. They get to know each other’s cricketing strengths and weaknesses but perhaps more importantly they get an insight into each other’s personality, so important in team sports.
All active participants in sports would readily admit to the importance of knowing one’s team members to the attainment of success. Many would suggest that this is the quintessential component of teamwork.
The Trinidad and Tobago team has been able to fight one battle after another knowing that there are players in their midst who are capable of understanding the challenges facing any player at any given time and step forward to save the day. During the Champions League, we saw this happening time and again. Dwayne Bravo, for example, failed with the bat until the team’s penultimate game in the competition.
Adrian Bharat was not in the final squad at the beginning but when he was eventually given the opportunity to play he showed his class with a masterful half-century. The same can be said of Keiron Pollard. So much was expected of this young man yet he failed to deliver with the bat time and again. He contained the opponents rather surprisingly with his bowling. When it looked like the team was in trouble with the batting he hammered his way out of trouble and led the team to victory. He may well have earned himself a place in the lucrative Indian Premier League.
For some time there have been voices in different parts of the Caribbean extolling the virtues of Darren Ganga as a leader on the field of play. Of course the critics have responded by pointing to his relatively poor performance with the bat once selected to the West Indies team.
There is no denying that Ganga is easily the most successful captain in the regional competitions. This feat ought to count for something.
During the Trinidad and Tobago team’s participation in the Champions League recently there were many objective cricket analysts who lauded Ganga’s captaincy.
He was commended for his motivational skills. Others commented favourably on his vision. The list of accolades during the tournament seemed endless.
It is unfortunate that in other fields of endeavour we are prepared to insist that leaders are not born, at least that is not the norm. We often advocate that leaders emerge. They are people who work diligently to hone their skills as much as anyone else.
We must therefore consider why this thinking is not readily applied to West Indies Cricket. Certainly given our current ranking in world cricket we cannot do much worse. It seems appropriate at this juncture to give Ganga a try at the West Indies captaincy and see what he makes of it. As it now stands he is not the only one in the region who has not always performed well with the bat when selected.
It may well be that if he is as good a captain as some think he is then we may not necessarily need to rely on him to save us with his batting. He may just as well get the others on the team to do so.
Ganga’s leadership of the Trinidad and Tobago team over the years has facilitated the emergence of a strong sense of commitment from the players. To the last man on the team, there is a sense that they are all playing for the collective and not each player for himself. This feature has been evident in the interviews of players of the team. Whatever the occasion and whoever the player the response was always the same. It was about the team.
On reflection, it is clear that one of the features lacking for some time in West Indies Cricket is commitment. This was clear when Gayle was quoted by the BBC as having indicated that he did not see the reason for a curfew for the team on the English Tour. This occurred when Michael Findlay was the manager following the CWC2007 in which the West Indies team did so poorly. He has perhaps done and said more things to highlight a seeming lack of understanding of the importance of the team to the peoples of the region and given cause for many to question his commitment. But Gayle may well be a reflection of others on the team.
There is much that can and must be learned from Ganga’s team while playing in India. It was this commitment that we have been seeing for some time and which must have contributed in no small measure to their successes.
It has often been said that success breeds success. That is certainly true of the Trinidad and Tobago team under Darren Ganga. Over the past few years, we have watched them snatch victory from near-impossible situations. We here in St Vincent and the Grenadines may recall the KFC semi-finals and finals in 2007. In the semi-finals we all thought that Barbados has the game all sewn up. Suddenly Ganga was able to work his magic and an inspired Trinidad and Tobago team snatched victory from the Bajans who may well still be wondering what happened.
Then there was the final against the Windwards at Arnos Vale. Many Vincentians left the arena, with only a few over’s in the match, so enthused with the performance of the Windwards team that they left they were celebrating all the way home. Unfortunately however by the time they got home, it was a different story. They were told rather shockingly that Trinidad and Tobago had won. Some had to wait on the next day’s news to hear the final outcome for themselves before they would accept what they had been told.
The Windwards versus Trinidad and Tobago game was much closer than the encounter between Barbados and the Trinis. The difference on both occasions was the well-oiled machine that was the Trinidad and Tobago team. Here was a team that was determined to win the KFC competition. The attitude of the team was the same with regard to their success in the Carib four-day competition. They felt that it was time for them to win and they did just that.
This attitude carried them through to eventual victory in the 2nd Stanford 20/20 competition in Antigua and Barbuda. They had lost in the final of the first competition to Guyana and committed to not having this feat repeated next time around. They trounced Jamaica in the 2nd competition.
It is this attitude towards the game that the Trinidad and Tobago team took with them to India and it worked in their favour. Starting and the underdogs in the competition what they had going for them was their great togetherness, their commitment, their happy blend of youth with experience, and the leadership of Darren Ganga.
West Indies Cricket must learn from the experience of Trinidad and Tobago and what they did for the Caribbean and the sport in the region by their outstanding performance in the Champions T20 League in India.
We must be able to put differences aside and appreciate that there are examples around us from which we can learn many important lessons.
The ball is now in the court of the WICB. Let us see what they will make of it. – Keith Joseph

October 30, 2009

Another WICB failed experiment

The 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 themselves 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 they 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 no 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 involved in 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 learned 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 in 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 that currently plagues West Indies Cricket. – Keith Joseph

July 24, 2009

Cricket embarrassment continues

In the very first test played at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, St Vincent and the Grenadines, 9 – 13 July 2009, the West Indies suffered an ignominious defeat, with Bangladesh winning only its second test in 60 matches since joining the list of test playing nations within the International Cricket Council (ICC).
While Bangladesh celebrates, regardless of the outcome of the next two matches in the series, the West Indian fans are particularly upset that the best team was not presented in the first match of the series and from all appearances, this is likely to be repeated in the second test, at least.
Recent decisions of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) must be troubling to the astute followers of the game in the region. The storm that led to the provision of an ‘almost West Indies’ cricket team to play Bangladesh in the first test in St Vincent and the Grenadines is but the latest in a series of faux pas that has come to characterise West Indies cricket.
Antigua and Barbuda boo boo
Earlier in the year the WICB agreed to host England here at home. The test match in Antigua and Barbuda had to be abandoned because the field, a problem since its construction, was deemed unfit for play.
The fact that in 2007 at the time of the Cricket World Cup, for which the facility in Antigua and Barbuda was originally built, a number of critical issues had emerged with the new ground, ought to have cajoled the WICB into paying special attention to it. This did not happen. In its usual cameo style, the WICB went ahead and left the local Cricket authorities to their own devices only to be embarrassed by the complete cancellation of a test match.
One would have expected that ‘heads would roll’ as a result of the colossal embarrassment. Suffice it to say that we moved over to the Antigua Recreation Ground, itself hastily prepared in a few days, and added one test match to the series. No one has as yet been a casualty of this embarrassing situation.
England series
The WICB then agreed to an unplanned series against England in the United Kingdom in Spring, when the weather would have been colder than what is normally expected by our players in an away series and with the conditions favouring the English swing bowlers. We were humiliated.
The WICB found itself on the wrong side of the players who had been contracted to the Indian Premier League (IPL) where they have relatively lucrative contracts.
While some critics are anxious to point to the agreement to provide compensation to those players who had such contracts the reality is that their absence would have denied them the opportunity to be promoted to better pay in future IPL series. Perhaps to consider this would be to focus on the money side of things and this is anathema to the critics.
The fact is that the WICB revealed itself as completely inept in its agreement to the series in the United Kingdom.
India series
The WICB’s series against India, which involved a four-match One-Day series with two matches each in Jamaica and St Lucia, was another major blunder on the part of the organisation.
The choice of nations was unfortunate. While Jamaica does have some Indians in its population, their numbers do not in any way match the likes of Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
The WICB, therefore, could not have expected to see large crowds in attendance at the matches played in Jamaica and St Lucia, especially in the time of the year at which these were scheduled. It must be assumed therefore that the WICB does not appeal sufficiently committed to a planning process that best suits the region.
Bangladesh series
Then there is the Bangladesh series currently in progress. Here again, the countries with the largest Indian populations are not included in the test itinerary. There is therefore little hope that the WICB would be expecting large gate receipts for the test matches in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Dominica.
It must also be a sign of madness that the Cricket Boards of the aforementioned three countries would have accepted the test matches involving the West Indies and Bangladesh.
While Chanderpaul remains the most consistent of our cricketers there is no member of the team that is considered sufficiently attractive in his display of the sport to be a crowd-puller.
During the first test match in St Vincent and the Grenadines the crowds must have driven a dagger in the hearts of those in authority and even the media would have had a field day trying to stomach the weak attendance. Perhaps this best explains why most of the discussion on each of the days of play focused more on the WIPA-WICB impasse than on the match being covered.
West Indian cricket fans everywhere have lamented the decision by the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) to have their members withhold their ‘labour’ in the current series against Bangladesh. The fans speak of the colossal embarrassment that the situation has caused to West Indies cricket. They are very concerned about the poor image of the region in this regard. It does, however, seem unfortunate that far too many of our so-called loyal cricket fans are unwilling to get at the facts before casting aspersions. Many do not wish to know the facts. It is enough for them to know that the West Indies is not playing its best team.
One of the criticisms levelled at the WIPA is that the organisation appears to wait until the West Indies is about to start a new series to take action. But which trade union does not seek out the most appropriate time to engage in industrial action? Do we not have the same situation with LIAT employees? The general idea about industrial action is that it be taken when it is most likely to have the desired impact. In the case of the WIPA the most critical opportunity presents itself whenever there is a series pending.
Anyone involved in industrial relations would understand that there are several courses of action open to the trade unions. They may choose to ‘work to rule’ or engage in ‘wildcat strikes’ or go to arbitration, or withhold their labour. The WIPA chose to withhold their labour.
While the WICB has been quick to select an entirely new team for the Bangladesh series one notes that the ‘spunk’ shown this time around may well have come about because the series involves the lowest-ranked test playing nation and we were of the view that any team we choose would defeat them. The fact that the West Indies suffered a humiliating defeat at Arno Vale, St Vincent and the Grenadines, where no real crowd ever attended, reveals the fact that there is not the depth in our cricket that we believe exists. It is for this reason that it is being suggested here that had it been Australia or South Africa against whom we were playing the WICB would have settled with the WIPA instead of seeking the current option.
Many critics of the WIPA action have allowed themselves to be too readily blinded by their own emotional attachment to West Indies cricket. They are fed up of seeing the team lose and so, in their own anger, they anxiously chide the players and the WIPA for not allowing the team an obvious opportunity to win so that they would have something to celebrate. The stance of the critics appears to have little to do with the realities of the situation.
West Indies cricket loyalists were also against the West Indies players when they turned their backs on the then West Indies Cricket Board of Control (WICBC) to join the Kerry Packer initiative. Back then many were hoping that the regular West Indies team that toured India and which revealed the likes of Malcolm Marshall to the world, would have done well enough to leave the Kerry Packer players out in the cold. These same critics said nothing in support of Alvin Kallicharan when the powerful cadre of West Indian cricketers came out of the series and returned to the traditional fold, marginalising the young cricketer who had been originally retained as captain of the team that remained loyal to the WICBC.
Few of our traditionalists seem to recall that it is out of the experience of the Packer initiative that the WIPA was born. Now, unfortunately, some of the very founding fathers of WIPA appear to have allowed themselves to be caught up in being critical of the organisation.
At the time of the return of the Packer grouping to the traditional fold, astute analysts of the game in the region understood only too well that the players had bonded themselves into a very powerful unit to such an extent that it was virtually impossible for the WICBC and any appointed team management to wrest control of the team in any series.
It is amazing therefore to hear comments from the likes of Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Michael Holding and Clive Lloyd, to name a few, in respect of the behaviour of players today. They may well have forgotten their own conduct on and off the field of play. The critics of the WIPA seem to have forgotten this component of West Indies cricket.
It is amazing that many of those who have been critical of the action taken by WIPA on behalf of the West Indies players have failed to make the necessary parallel with themselves in their own work situations and as members of trade unions in their respective countries.
There are not many workers today who would readily accede to a payment by performance agreement. They know their won realities and would therefore not be anxious to have their performance so closely monitored that their salaries would be tagged to it, yet they would want to demand that the West Indian cricketers be so tied. – Keith Joseph

July 17, 2009

Excitement Promotes Cricket

Over the past several weeks the sporting world was filled with the excitement generated by 20/20 Cricket. From the very first day of the competition through to its grand finale the International Cricket Council’s 20/20 World Cup held in the land that created this particular variant of the game, England, cricket enthusiasts everywhere tuned in to the remarkable event.
But the excitement generated by the 20/20 tournament, which saw Pakistan defeat Sri Lanka in the final at Lords was not the only feature that attracted the attention of cricket enthusiasts. Aficionados of the sport were also engaged in an ongoing discourse as to the impact 20/20 would have on the longer version of the game, test cricket, and on the future of the sport itself.

Test Cricket
Test cricket has been around for a very long time. The five-day version of the game of cricket became the accepted form and the finest players were determined by their performances in test cricket.
Donald Bradman of Australia is considered the greatest exponent of batsmanship in the history of test cricket. We refer to his remarkable batting average in support of this claim.
By the same token, Garfield Sobers of Barbados is recognised as the greatest all-rounder the test version of the game of cricket has ever known.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Brian Lara has distinguished himself among the recent batsmen in the longer version of the game for his 375 and 10 years later, 400 not out. No other batsmen in test cricket has ever scored more double centuries and none seemed to have enjoyed batting for such lengthy periods so consistently and which such concentration.
In the sphere of bowling, there are mixed reviews. Some still see Australia’s Dennis Lillee as the greatest fast bowler in test cricket with his partner, Jeff Thomspon as the game’s most devastating. There are some who would place Barbados’ Malcolm Marshall as being among the best of all time.
Among the spin bowlers, Shane Warne has been held aloft while, Muralitharan, swamped by the controversy surrounding his arm action, has emerged as the spinner with the most outstanding record in the number of wickets taken during his playing career and he is not done yet.
For all of the accolades that we can place on players of test cricket, we have endured the game over a five-day period for decades without being unduly critical of the time spent in the stands. The artistry of the players was enough to command our attention and we kept trekking to the arena day after day hoping to get more excitement each time.
In the Caribbean, the test match was a necessary part of our culture. The West Indies cricket team espoused all of our aspirations and we enthusiastically followed their fortunes because of this inextricable link. Their success was ours as much as their failures.
When the team was playing down under in Australia or New Zealand, successive generations in the Caribbean slept early only to wake up in the middle of the night to tune in to the coverage of the test series.
When the series was held in the Caribbean attendance at the test matches was an occasion for a picnic. People woke up early to cook and make their way from all parts of their respective countries to get to the matches on time.
Test cricket generated much excitement. The craftsmanship was often startling. The crowds erupted in euphoric cheers each time some outstanding feat was performed, regardless of which team was involved. We were taught to appreciate good cricket and to be unbiased in our analysis but that did not deter us from showing where our loyalties were. We were also taught that it was improper to make noise since it would disturb the concentration of the players. Cheering was therefore restricted to after the phenomenal feats.
Time was unimportant. We all knew that the match was scheduled for five days, with a rest day after the first three days. Some time ago, it was decided to play five straight days, removing the rest day. No one complained.
Test cricket was however only suited to countries with relatively large populations and sound economies. Not surprisingly, when St Vincent and the Grenadines was awarded its first test match – West Indies versus Sri Lanka, there was never any doubt within the country that unless there was an influx of visitors, Vincentians would probably only be out in their numbers on the weekend.
Kerry Packer brought much innovation to test cricket. He introduced technology onto the field of play. Microphones and cameras were placed everywhere. Suddenly we were hearing the click of the bails as the stumps were struck. We heard the comments of players. We were provided with visuals of the wicket in a manner hitherto unknown. These innovations were intended to make test cricket more attractive, less boring.
One Day International (ODI)
The introduction of the One Day International version of the game of cricket was innovative. Everywhere people thought that it was timely.
The cricket match was now an event that ran for one day with each team being allocated a total of 50 overs. The players of the fielding team were restricted in terms of where they could locate their players for a specified number of overs.
The ODI innovation was intended to generate excitement of an order hitherto unknown. The game responded to those who just did not have the time to spend watching one game spread over five days each with six hours of cricket. Many who found test cricket a most boring experience were eager to join the One Day crowd.
The ODIs were also found to meet the requirements of people who could only spare a limited amount of time at sporting events and who wanted to be able to leave the competition arena with a definitive result. At the end of the day there was a result and the patrons could celebrate or mope around depending on who they were supporting.
For the television owners, the ODI was a much better product to sell. The excitement generated on the field of play mixed with the uncertainty of the game itself made the product increasingly more viewer-friendly. More commercial enterprises were prepared to advertise during the ODIs.
The ODI also seemed to require a different approach to the game. While it still seemed necessary for at least one batsman to steady the ship of his team the other players could readily go after the bowling taking far more chances in a shorter time frame than is possible in the test match. Additionally, coaches placed greater emphasis on the run rate per over.
The ODIs also saw the introduction of large video boards at match venues that encouraged greater interaction with the fans in the arena. Music too became a part of the fun that was the ODI. Antigua and Barbuda became world-renowned as an ODI venue for the showmanship of the ever-popular Gravy and his association with Chickie’s HiFi, a characteristic feature that spilled over into the test matches played at the Antigua Recreation Ground
Competing countries soon began to establish teams whose specific focus was the ODI as distinct from those prepared for test cricket.
The changes brought about by the ODI suggested that the sport had moved on in keeping with global trends in the industry and that nothing would turn back the hands of the clock in this regard.
Enter 20/20 cricket
20/20 cricket has been the latest innovation in the sport.
The English brought this variety to the sport and it has threatened to transform the way the game is played and impact audiences even of people who do not know the sport.
20/20 has many things going for it.
It is a very short version of a game of cricket. This means that essentially a match should take no longer than four hours. This offers patrons the opportunity to complete a day’s work, time to go home and change before going out to a full match, with a definitive result, accompanied by all of the members of his/her family.
20/20 cricket has become a family affair with great appeal if only because it offers better utilisation of one’s time and a sense of gratification for having received one’s money’s worth.
The 20/20 version of the game of cricket has led to no shortage of innovations.
In South Africa, for example, it is not uncommon to find a Jacuzzi bar with the patrons viewing the game on large screens.
At some editions of the 20/20 matches, the opportunity is provided for the children to play in designated areas with attractions for their interest and entertainment while their parents watch the particular match with great enthusiasm.
Several other innovative entertainment options are put on the table for patrons, inclusive of those who do not know the sport.
Cricketers have also found the shortest version of the game to their liking. They too value their time and recognise the reality of earning more for less contracted time out in the centre of the playing arena. We should therefore not be surprised at the interest of some of today’s players of the game to openly criticise test cricket and declare a distinct preference for the 20/20 version.
Several cricketing nations are now offered the opportunity to participate in qualifying competitions on their way to the World Cup Finals much like Football. This innovation gives the International Cricket Council a veritable new lease on life.
Television loves the shortest version of the game and given the mass appeal of the recently concluded World Cup in England the television rights can only move in an upwards direction, enhancing the coffers of the ICC.
In a sense, as with so many other sporting events, the sustainability of cricket rests with its ability to present itself as an attractive, entertaining, and income-generating experience. While some continue to quibble over whether or not 20/20 is cricket in the classical sense, the ICC knows that it still involves bat and ball, a wicket of specific dimensions, and an outfield and that each team is composed of 11 players. The shortest version carries the nomenclature, ‘cricket’. Table Tennis and Volleyball have made significant changes that connoisseurs would never have thought possible and initially may well have rejected. They are very much rejuvenated sports today. The same thing will happen in cricket. 20/20 cricket is the newest version of an old sport changing with the times and satisfying ever newer patrons. – Keith Joseph

July 03, 2009

WICB – A Blighted Organisation

The recent election of St Lucia’s Julian Hunte to the position of President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) may well have been an act of desperation on the part of the region’s cricket leadership given their continued failure to adequately address the many issues confronting the sport and the organisation itself.

Hunte had been among the leadership of the game in the region before taking on political responsibilities on behalf of his country’s government. Some may recall that he was the long-standing President of the Windward Islands Cricket Board before our own Lennox John. Hunte also sought to climb the ladder within the then West Indies Cricket Board of Control (WICBC) at a time when some came to believe that the organisation did have some control.

The decision to turn to Hunte seems to have come as the WICB, significantly, received the resignation of yet another of its presidents.

It is unfortunate that the WICB seems unperturbed at having one of the more rapid turnovers of presidents among the test playing nations of the world.

Hunte’s election comes in the wake of seemingly weak leadership on the part of former presidents of the organisation, the most recent of whom were Teddy Griffith of Barbados and Ken Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago.

The CWC2007

The Cricket World Cup 2007 was awarded to the WICB only because it was the turn of the region to do so.

The ICC is anxious to join the major sporting organisations across the globe in introducing a bidding process among its membership for the Cricket World Cup, however, it had earlier decided to allow the major test playing nations to each have the opportunity to play host to this event.

2007 was the turn of the West Indies the last of the test playing nations to have the right to host the event before bidding begins.

At the conclusion of the CWC2007, one could easily recognise why it is that so many critics across the region are confident that the WICB will never win a bid to host the Cricket World Cup again in their lifetime.

The tributes to the glowing success of CWC2007 have come essentially and perhaps only from the WICB and those who were privileged enough to have been in authority in the different countries that hosted activities. The outside world has been harsh and unforgiving in its criticisms.

The reaction of the WICB is not unexpected. It has to justify the expenditures that accompanied a most successful failure that served to embarrass the region more than enhance its international status.

But in the region, we are not always given to truth. “Monkey can’t see its own tail”, we often say in jest. The WICB is a classic case of this humorous phrase made a reality.

The pathetic display of bungling incompetence during the preparations for and the actual hosting of the CWC2007 has left many West Indians wrapped in the cocoon of their own comfortable mediocrity, patting themselves on the back. Perhaps it is this reality that allows us as a people to remain forever steeped in the cruel legacy of colonialism. Rather than engage in the meticulous analysis we smooth over things in haste, congratulating ourselves for having done anything at all since that is better than doing nothing. Excellence seems to have no real appeal for us.

The performance or lack thereof in the CWC2007 has not yet been analysed by the WICB. Instead, we seem to have been too eager to move along concerned more with seeing the back of Lara than with genuine change.

The players are very good examples of today’s social reality in the Caribbean but no one in the hallowed halls of the WICB wishes to see this for what it is. Emergent from an entirely different historical and socio-political era the WICB leadership, much like so many of our political leaders today, have lost touch with today’s youths and have no real links with the players. The bruising and most embarrassing battles between the Players Association and the WICB provide ample evidence of the extent to which the generation gap continues to widen.

The WICB seems content to pour store new wine in old skins oblivious to the inherent dangers to the future of a sport that once held pride of place in the Caribbean.

ICC’s Twenty 20

The International Cricket Council, fighting for its own survival among the top sporting organisations in the world, rushed headlong to ensure that no individual entrepreneur got the headstart in respect of organising a World 20/20 Cricket Cup. The rapid development and growing popularity of the shortest version of the game yet to emerge was not lost on the ICC and so South Africa played host to the inaugural World 20/20 Cup.

The Tournament was hailed as a new era in the sport as far as the ICC is concerned, even though several countries have held domestic competitions over the past few years since its introduction as a most exciting activity.

Of course, the West Indies continued its consistently inconsistent approach to the game, regardless of which version the team is involved. In the opening encounter, we got an opportunity to witness the capacity of Gayle to bash everything in sight as he amassed an individual total of 117. Of course, those who have not been accustomed to the developments taking place in 20/20 cricket underestimated the South Africans in that first encounter, once more failing to understand that the latter country has been the most aggressive in promoting this particular version of the game.

South Africa made light work of the West Indies. Nonetheless, there were the eternal optimists who were anxious to boast that yet again the West Indies had shown that they could play the game with some measure of competence. Some may suggest that it was a case of this version of the game requiring much less by way of intellectual capacity. Of course, the very next match saw the Windies humiliated by Bangladesh.

Consistent, isn’t it? They had to think out a strategy and that proved impossible.

But the 20/20 tournament showed the world that patrons like this version of the game. It is short, approximately four hours of play. It does not have any downtime. There is always something happening. Players manufacture strokes in an effort to score runs, with no attention to any text-book requirements in respect of stroke play. Meanwhile, the hapless bowlers are forced to be as creative as possible hoping more than anything else that the anxiety of the batsmen to get runs by any means necessary will be their own downfall. Former England cricket captain, Mike Atherton, has described the 20/20 version of the game of cricket as “the equivalent of the gas chamber for a bowler”

In the World 20/20 Cup, it was clear that the organisers did not have a Sunset legislation of the crass order that our countries had to endorse for so long in the earlier part of this year. Everywhere people were able to enjoy themselves at the matches. The viewers like the spectators on hand were of the understanding that the 20/20 version of the game is a ‘show’, and entertainment package that involves everyone, not just the players to make it a grand success.

Oh, how the WICB must now be kicking itself for having missed the boat on this aspect of the sport!

The World 20/20 Cup has shown that people are keen on going to a sporting arena to watch a version of cricket that allows them to get plenty of excitement and a result in just about four hours or so.

New developments

On 13 September 2007 Delhi, India, was the scene of a launch of an international 20/20 tournament that will involve a select number of teams drawn from cricketing nations across the world. Thus far those who have been declared as becoming involved are Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and host India. It has been said that the WICB has not yet responded. The intention is to have two domestic teams representing each of the invited nations.

The date for the tournament has been set for October 2008 and will feature a top prize of $5m USD with matches being played in the wealthy Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

India has also announced that there will be an Indian 20/20 League beginning in April 2008. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already committed to participating in the domestic Indian 20/20 League next year.

New Zealand has announced that it will have two teams participating in the Australian competition.

We have also been informed that there will be a 25% increase in the number of 20/20 cricket matches being played in the English Cricket competition, signalling even greater global spread of the new version.

South Africa already possesses what many see as the most aggressive 20/20 cricket competition in the world.

Of some concern to many around the world is the future of the other versions of the game of cricket. No longer are people anxious to sit through five days of test cricket and revenues have been significantly declining in this regard.

The once-popular One Day Internationals that offered each team 50 overs now seems too long and boring to be attractive when compared to what happens at the 20/20 version.

Sponsors are already re-thinking their support for test and 50 overs cricket and gravitating to the more exciting version of the game. The ICC and its affiliates do not appear to be thinking ahead. They are too engaged in rushing after the dollars that fill their coffers from the 20/20 version of the game.

It may well be that we are about to witness the end of cricket as we once knew it. There may soon no longer be a need for anyone to learn the craft of batsmanship. Cricket purists and historians may find themselves holding fast to DVD versions of the game as it once was.

What drawing board?

It is common to suggest that when things go wrong that one should return t the drawing board. The unfortunate reality for us in the Caribbean is that we do not have a drawing board and probably never had one.

When Stanford introduced his 20/20 competition in the region it was clear that he showed a complete lack of vision among the leaders of the sport in the Caribbean. Caught up in their own egos and internal petty jealousies and heady insularity the leaders of cricket in the Caribbean have failed to engage themselves sin any sort of critical thinking in respect of developments taking place around them and further afield in the international arena.

Stanford, an entrepreneur with a vision for money-making ventures, quickly saw the opportunity and seized it. As has always been the case, unfortunately, our colonial legacy left us once more bagger-maids as one by one the greats of the game in the region joined the bandwagon, and many, only too eager to explain their seeming mendicancy.

Of course, Stanford has long since seized the initiative from the WICB by establishing a Cricket Hall of Fame. There could not have been any more shame for the leaders of the sport in the region. But then again, the colonial legacy is so strong that even shame is difficult to muster.

Now, in typical adhocratic thinking, the WICB has sought to bring Stanford on Board. What a disaster!

What a shameful act!

Seemingly unable to think creatively the WICB has shorn itself of shame and belittled itself once more. No wonder Austin ‘Jack’ Warner continues to lament the woefully pathetic lack of leadership in West Indies cricket.

The WICB is well behind Stanford in thinking through the future of the game. What the leadership now seems to be doing is hoping to have Stanford’s ideas and financial acumen work in the best interest of the sport in the region. In this regard, the WICB’s leadership may do well to analyse the rise and fall of Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun and determine the major beneficiaries.

It is unfortunate that at this stage the WICB has found itself in such a quagmire that the only leader to whom they could turn is Julian Hunte. Perhaps the likes of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Lennox John and Walter St John of Grenada, would do well to explain their own experiences as members of the Windward Islands Cricket Board during the tenure of Julian Hunte. But that is not likely to happen and the region will watch yet again as the WICB plays patsy with a sport that continues to rapidly decline in the Caribbean.

Indeed, where there is no vision a people perish. – Keith Joseph

September 21, 2007

Dwayne Bravo: tells TTOC Youth Campers forget the bling

Cheers and screams of delight greeted West Indies cricket team all-rounder Dwayne Bravo as he entered the Jean Pierre media room yesterday (Friday). Bravo had accepted an invitation from the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) to speak to the participants at the 5th Annual TTOC, Olympic Academy Olympic Youth Camp.

The 23-year-old Santa Cruz resident spoke without a script during his thirty-minute address. Bravo, a former Tranquility Secondary school student told the Olympic youth campers that focus, self-discipline, self -belief, and dedication were necessary ingredients for success. He urged the Youth campers to forget the “bling”.

Concentrate on working hard and loving and enjoying the pursuit of excellence. The bling is out there, but you must have a bigger vision for yourself and a higher sense of purpose. My goals ever since I was a little boy was to be the best cricketer I could be and to play cricket for my country and to make the West Indies cricket team by the age of 23 years. I achieved my goal by age 20. The money, fame, etc. was and is not my goal, improving and being the best I can be is my goal.” Bravo said.

Bravo cautioned that there are many distractions, but counseled his attentive audience that it is important that they focus on getting and staying fit, eating properly, improving their technique and tactical awareness, and being coachable. He admitted that the rewards and benefits earned by modern sportsmen and women for achieving excellence are “enormous” and well worth the effort and dedication. He however urged the youngsters to pay attention to their education.

You do not want to be in a position where someone can give you a six for a nine. You must be able to read, write, speak properly and count.

The popular Trinidadian sports personality cautioned that when an athlete is wearing the national colours it is important to understand that “you” are representing not only the 1.3 million citizens of T&T but every T&T national around the world.

My personal philosophy is country first self after.” Bravo advised, “it is important that when you make it big and I have no doubt that many of you present here today will one day be role models, that you remember to give back to your country and community. Lead by example.”  – Keith Joseph

August 13, 2007

Cricket funny business - the Patterson Report

When one reads or hears about West Indies cricket these days one becomes very worried. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. The news is always a mixed bag and we are never convinced that we have reached the corner far less to get around it successfully.

Tour of England

There is no point in reminiscing on the West Indies visit to Ireland since it made absolutely no sense in terms of impacting our game.

It mattered only to the directionless leaders of the game in the region who have long since lost any understanding of the sport. Maybe, somewhere in their own twisted understanding of what they purport to be doing for the game in the region, it was financially beneficial.

Of interest to us is the failed, some may say blotched and blighted, tour of England. The West Indies lost the test series in what pundits would say was another shameful display yet we are sure to find those ever-optimistic personages in the region who would insist that we did well and that the performance augurs well for the future of the game. The old adage, “There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see” rings true yet again.

Both teams, England and the West Indies, played poorly throughout the series, a fact that all of the serious analysts of the game understood and regretted. The series did nothing to lift the game in the aftermath of a most despicable CWC2007.

At the conclusion of the tour, some thought that we managed to salvage some pride. We won the One Day series. So what? – Keith Joseph

July 27, 2007

West Indies cricket administration - same khaki pants

The latest furore within the camp that is now the renowned West Indies cricket fraternity should come as no surprise to anyone who has been able to stomach the proceedings within this sordid grouping over the past several years. 

Unfortunately, it does appear that things will certainly get much worse before they get better. 

The England Tour

The West Indies Cricket Board, WICB, has continued to show the peoples of this Caribbean region every reason why the current crop of administrators of the game should all immediately demit office, even without an explanation. 

It would be a most just move for the entire cadre to leave the game and allow for a fresh start to what was once our most popular sport. 

At best the current crop of WICB administrators can boast of ensuring the death and burial of the game in the Caribbean. 

The England tour marks an important stage in the funkiness of the WICB. It is as though the Board did not do its homework in respect of the tour. There seemed little by way of planning. 

The impasse between the West Indies Players Association, WIPA, and the WICB only proved the total incompetence of the administrators of the game. The Arbitration Panel, headed by the Chief Justice of Barbados, seemed rather surprised at the case brought before it by both parties. To even the ardent follower of developments in the region it certainly seemed strange that the WICB could have failed to interpret the situation and avoid the embarrassment that eventually flowed in its direction. Once more Ramnarine and the WIPA emerged victorious.

It also seems important to state here that while many may decry the performance of the team on the field, the WIPA continues to hold fast to its mandate to secure the best deal for its members. All power to Ramnarine for his achievements thus far in this particular area of endeavour. 

Samuels Et Al

The WICB then added to the confusion when Marlon Samuels, the replacement for captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, found his travel plans delayed by the visa issue. By this time everyone should know that Jamaicans need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. This should have been factored into the travel plans. 

More embarrassment was to follow. The WICB made another major blunder when it organised the replacement players who were to feature in the 20/20 and One Day Internationals against England. 

The entire Caribbean became the laughing stock of the cricketing world when the travel plans for the replacements were so badly organised that the players failed to arrive in time for the first warm-up game prior to the commencement of the second phase of the series against England. The embarrassment was further heightened by the Board having to secure the services of Caribbean cricketers playing in England, to add to the team for the warm up match. 

Perhaps Fazeer Mohammed’s comments are worth stating here. 

Gordon is a failure, of course, while the integrity of some members of his inner circle at the board must be open to question given the ease, speed and regularity with which information from confidential meetings are leaked into the public domain.

This betrays a house divided unto itself, with grown men pretending to accept collective responsibility only to be sneaking around like rats trying to undermine each other for their own parochial purposes. 

On principle alone, they should all go, but that would still leave the same complex, an archaic structure that is unworkable in a flourishing culture of selfishness and shortsightedness. 

Who’s the Boss?

The WICB seems a blighted organisation and Ken Gordon may well have taken his exit when he offered his resignation following the conclusion of the embarrassing Cricket World Cup 2007. The only people who seem to think it was a success are the leaders of the game in the region. The very ones who continue to embarrass us everywhere. 

The selectors informed the WICB of their decision to have Chris Gayle appointed captain of the team for the 20/20 and One-day competitions. The Board ignored the selectors’ decision and appointed Darren Ganga captain. The only problem here was that Ganga was not among the players sent to the Board to participate in the two competitions. 

The regional media made the truth known and the embarrassment once more came to the fore. Unashamedly the WICB had to recant and Ganga was released and Gayle installed as captain. 

Of course, Gayle had to have his say in public and so the embarrassment took on even greater dimensions. His criticisms of the Board emerged in his diary and we are hearing string suggestions that there was some input from the team’s manager, Michael Findlay. 

Then came the strongly-worded caution from the WICB following an apparent meeting between Gayle, Ken Gordon, and Michael Findlay. Of course, the WIPA intervention was most appropriate since the organisation needed to know whether Findlay was seeming to play both sides in this unsavoury affair. If indeed Findlay did have an input into what Gayle was saying in his diary how could he also be involved in the meeting that yielded the caution to Gayle? Of course, the matter will be swept under the carpet even as snippets will be fed to the media, as is now the norm.

At the end of the day, Gayle has been emboldened by the rather untenable stance adopted by the leadership of the sport in the region. Some seem quite uncertain as to precisely who is leading the WICB ship. One wonders whether Gordon had secured the advice of the Board’s Disciplinary Committee before the letter of caution was delivered to Gayle. 

One may also wonder whether the team manager is not the one with the authority to effect discipline while the team is on tour. 

Wherever the responsibility lies the fact is that Gayle and the WIPA are standing on solid ground and the WICB is in quicksand with no one in sight. 

On Field

We can always boast of the consistency that is West Indies cricket. We continue to expect the kind of embarrassment currently being endured across the globe from the WICB. We can also expect that on the field of play the West Indies team will do likewise. 

The performances in the test series were little more than putrid. It is perhaps even more embarrassing for us in the region to dare to suggest that we almost won a match. Nonsense! Both teams performed as expected of their low ranking in contemporary cricket. That the paying public had to contend with such abysmally poor cricket is to our undying shame. 

The 20/20 game is no dissimilar to softball cricket. The strokes are the same and so too is the bowling. It is designed for enjoyment and perhaps to take our minds away from the seriousness of what we once called cricket. 

Despite the introduction of the 20/20 series at home by Stanford last year the West Indies team claimed much inexperience in its nuances. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The block or bash mentality of so many of our players should have allowed them to relish this version of the game. Unfortunately, the series tied. Even that we did not win.

On the field of play, nothing has changed for the West Indies team. Who’s to blame? 

The truth is that we are all to blame. We are too weak to stand up and insist on the sweeping of West Indies cricket with a bass broom that is expansive enough to remove the administrators and current crop of players alike. 

There has to be a new start made. 

Even the likes of Richards, Holding, Croft, Bishop and Lloyd perhaps need to step aside for a while and allow for something new, something innovative and dynamic to emerge. – Keith Joseph

July 6, 2007

Colonialism reeks over our cricket

The Cricket World Cup 2007 has come and gone and everywhere in the region, there remains a buzz of disappointment at what we have done or failed to do, chief among these is our failure to plan with the involvement of the peoples of the Caribbean. We remain steeped in a colonial malaise from which we seem incapable of extricating ourselves. Nothing about the CWC2007 should have surprised us since throughout our history while we have attempted to govern ourselves we remain consistent in our failure to repose confidence in ourselves as a people. It always seems a better option to look outside of the Caribbean for persons to assist us in things we should be able to do for ourselves. Caribbean peoples have watched the failure of the Federation, the integration enterprise of the late 1950s that left Dr Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago insisting on a unique brand of ‘New Maths’, “one from 10 leaves nought.” The regional leaders at the time, much like those we now have, thought that they knew what was best for our peoples and never considered the wishes of the people in their decision-making, save and except for Jamaica where the people spoke in a referendum against the Federation and Norman Manley’s People’s National Party. Unfortunately, though the referendum was conceived on narrow, somewhat selfish, nationalistic political lines and nothing more. Jamaicans were led to believe that the smaller islands would become too dependent upon its own resources. Today, decades later, it still seems that the Jamaicans remain hesitant about regional integration, and the rest of the region’s political leaders toy with their respective populations about regionalism as it suits their particular and peculiar political strategies at any given point in time.
The Caribbean’s world of sport remains as divisive as is the case with the region’s politics. We truly reflect the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Small wonder that we cannot agree on a way forward in dealing with the many challenges facing West Indies 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 speaks 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 awhile 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 a 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 a 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. – Keith Joseph

June 1, 2007

WICB's flashing Red

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) now seems to be in more of a spot of bother and a tremendous headache following the conclusion of the Cricket World Cup 2007 (CWC2007).
The WICB has been in debt for some time and the organisation’s leadership seemed to have pinned hopes of moving its financial status from red to black following the success of the CWC2007. Now that the event did not prove to be as much of a success as touted prior to its commencement, the WICB is holding its head.  
Arthur’s sting
Barbados’ Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Owen Arthur, has recently made statements that would probably have sent shock waves through the leadership of the WICB.
Speaking at a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) meeting in the parish of Christchurch, Arthur declared, It would be an act of irresponsible folly for us to take the only thing we would get from the World Cup and give it to the West Indies Cricket Board to pay its debts.” (Nation, 7 May 2007)
According to the Nation newspaper, Arthur told the gathering of party faithful that President of the WICB, Ken Gordon, had written to him. The WICB President indicated that the organisation was indebted to the tune of some $15m USD and that the Board wanted the Barbados Prime Minister to agree to hand over the gate receipts to help the organisation clear it debts.
It was an adamant Arthur who stated, Now, I have already written to him to say that the government of Barbados does not and will not agree… He insisted that those responsible for the CWC2007 pass over the gate receipts so that we can start dealing with our financial matters at the Oval.
The Barbadian Prime Minister’s reasoning may well point other Ministers of Finance across the Caribbean to adopt a similar stance to the one has taken on board.
Arthur is essentially stating that his government has spent over $100m BDS to facilitate the reconstruction of the Kensington Oval to allow for the hosting of its round of matches in the CWC2007 and that the gate receipts will help the government recoup some of that money.
In some quarters the stance taken by Arthur may not be deemed unreasonable.

WICB and CWC2007
The WICB got the rights to the CWC2007 and immediately expected the governments of the region to do their part by investing in the upgrading and/or construction of the necessary infrastructure consistent with the expected standards for hosting the event.
The WICB has been in debt for several years and the organisation does not own any playing facilities in any of the islands.
In most of the countries whose national cricket associations constitute the membership of the WICB, there is none that owns any playing facility.
In every cricketing nation in the Caribbean, the main playing field used for regional and international cricket belongs either to a sports club or to the government. Barbados may well be the only exception.
In the case of Barbados, the Kensington Oval is supposed to be owned by the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA).
However, at the same meeting in Christchurch, Owen Arthur once more put the spanner in the works. According to Arthur the BCA only owns the land on which the facility is placed. In other words as far as he is concerned the playing field itself and nothing more are what the BCA can lay claim to.
According to the Nation newspaper, Arthur indicated that the government of Barbados owns 90 per cent of the property development company that had been set up to develop Kensington, with the BCA owning the rest.
The WICB therefore can only raise revenue by the use of these fields and whatever sponsorship it can attract. The idea of a region-wide lottery for cricket has never been given much currency and the organisation’s sponsorship of regional events has been generally weak.
The hosting of the CWC2007, therefore, appears to have been a case where the WICB was hoping to get the governments to make significant financial inputs, with nothing from the organisation itself and at the end of the competition, the latter would simply lick its lips as its treasury changed colour from red to hefty black.
At no stage during the lead up to the CWC2007 did we ever hear the WICB making any statements regarding its own financial inputs into the event.
Now that the event has concluded the WICB seems to have a perception that it has some right to the revenue generated at the gates in the various countries.

One wonders whether the WICB was somehow convinced that it had the governments of the region in its hip pocket such that it would be able to have them meet all pertinent expenses for the CWC2007. 
Perhaps the WICB’s leadership thought that the governments would have been satisfied with the tourism arrivals for the Cup. Unfortunately, even here there were difficulties as St Lucia can attest. In this case, the country experienced a net decline in tourist arrivals during the period of the CWC2007. Who then compensates the government? Certainly not the WICB.

Staying red
The WICB, therefore, finds itself in a very weak position relative to raising any challenge to what Arthur is proposing on where the gate receipts should go. 
If Arthur maintains this stance and the various governments in the region were to do likewise we may well soon enough have the WICB filing for bankruptcy.
The charmed existence of the WICB over the years may well have engendered with a sort of complacency that everything will be alright. This is not the case.
The region’s politicians are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain strong economies in a rapidly changing global economic environment and therefore cannot afford to engage in any sort of financial recklessness. They may well have perceived the experience of the CWC2007 as very painful and decidedly embarrassing in many respects.
The peoples of the region were not and still are not happy with the many restrictions imposed upon them and there are many who believe that the CWC2007 was not directed at them but primarily to those foreign visitors expected to bring in megabucks. 
To some, it was only when the visitors were not as numerous as expected that the tickets were priced to suit the pockets of our own people in the region.
The WICB, therefore, finds itself between a rock and a very hard place.
The governments of the region may see the reasoning of Arthur as sound and seek to at least justify their own outlandishly lavish expenditures on facilities by recouping something from the gate receipts.

Of course here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the gate receipts were so minimal that it may well not be worth the bother to address this matter. We may do well to remind ourselves that Cockroach has no business in fowl party.
If Arthur’s approach is accepted by regional governments then we are likely to find the WICB adorned in the brightest of red, financially speaking, and this for a very long time to come. The organisation’s leadership is not likely to find many people in this Caribbean of ours who are willing to sympathise with them. – Keith Joseph

May 18, 2007

Its all over, now back to reality

It is now all over.

The Cricket World Cup 2007, CWC2007, is finally over. The dust has already settled and now it is time to return to reality. It is time to return to the harsh reality of how we as a Caribbean so often make fools of ourselves, leaving us the laughing stock of much of the developed world. 

Caribbean Governments
Our Caribbean Governments were generally taken along for the biggest and most ridiculous rides in the history of the region. 

In hindsight, one Government after another has bemoaned the way in which it was sucked into the CWC2007. But that is part of our Caribbean reality. Our leaders are bereft of any genuine understanding of many things that affect the lives of our peoples yet they simply believe that they do. In an approach that was decidedly myopic but nonetheless distinctively bias the Caribbean Governments, without exception, hastened to sign on the dotted line without appreciating the impact of what they signed into law on our peoples, especially the poor among us. The poor in every one of the countries where World Cup matches were held, including warm-up matches, were served up as sacrificial lambs.
In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Government’s myopia forced a wasteful expenditure on facilities for a sport that has long since lost its soul. Cricket in St Vincent and the Grenadines has long since lost its appeal to the vast majority of the nation’s youths and children. 
The more popular sport of football has been ignored and the youths of the nation are angry. That is the reality.
While still under the ridiculous regulations of the CWC2007 only cricket could have been given the right of access to use the legacy playing fields. All other sporting disciplines that would normally utilise these facilities have been declared anathema.
The Sion Hill football field is being realigned without any consultation with anyone. It seems that the rationale is that of minimising the impact of the game on the expensive cricket facilities.

So, the facilities of Arnos Vale, Sion Hill, and Stubbs are our treasured CWC2007 legacies and the footballers will have a torrid time getting access at will.
A new agreement between the National Sports Council, NSC, and the local Cricket Association has seen a new deal in respect of the Buccament playing field for use of the Stanford 20/20 monies.
The cricket buffs are licking their lips in pleasure while the footballers are being marginalised.
One wonders whether there is not a concerted effort to kill the game of football in St Vincent and the Grenadines given the madness that has taken place via the CWC2007.
It is of course sheer madness when one takes a closer look at what has in fact happened.
The nation’s most popular sport by a very long way now finds itself on the fringes largely because of the prejudiced approach of a select few steeped in their love of a game that has long since lost its popularity in the State.
Football has no single field that it can call home.
We should not at all express surprise at the vexed relations that players of the game of football now have with all sports administrators at the governmental level.
The reality is that it appears reasonable to believe that in their desire to facilitate the select few in the sport of cricket the Government has virtually abandoned the nation’s most popular sport.
It would not be long therefore before we see a return to those old days where the football fraternity turn on the authorities with venom that hurts where it matters most.
What has happened in sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the past several months is nothing short of a sort of blighted ignorance bred out of a callous disregard and disrespect for anything other than cricket. 

Cricket and Class

Cricket has been dubbed the game of gentlemen and so it has always been associated with class.
In the recent past, especially in the Caribbean, the class component of the game is not with the players, many of whom come from the lower echelons of society. Today’s cricket sees the social class being present in the leadership of the respective governing bodies for the sport. These leaders understand the importance of maintaining the class structure within the sport and so the leadership essentially revolves around members of the higher social classes everywhere.

Rather interestingly in the case of the CWC2007, the main organisers in almost every instance sought people of high social standing in an effort to facilitate the maintenance of that class hegemony in the sport and to appease the international cricketing fraternity.
While some analysts quickly boast of the extent to which cricket has been a great leveler of peoples in the Caribbean, the reality quickly hits home that at the leadership level this is not in fact the case. The CWC2007 reflected this harsh social reality and the extent to which it is being perpetuated in a part of the world where the struggle against colonialism is far from over. 
Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the worst aspect of colonialism was the colonisation of the mind. Franz Fanon was adept at making this very point. It is as true today as it was in the heyday of political colonialism. 
The legacy is particularly evident in West Indies cricket.
A quick perusal of the leadership of the Cricket Associations in the Caribbean, as well as their respective LOC leaders, will confirm the extent to which social class has been of considerable importance to the fraternity.
Even the Governments did not get it right. They too capitulated to the class bias of the sport and played along, ignoring, for the most part, the complaints of the masses. 

SVG Cricket Legacies

Now that the Cricket World Cup has ended we here in St Vincent and the Grenadines now have to face up to maintaining our legacies.
To begin with, there is nothing in the realm of sport that even so much as looms on the horizon that will require the services of the so-called volunteer corps that has been trained. We may well find that the personnel are then utilised as liaison officers for Government functions more than for sport, in the short to medium term, if they are to be kept as a corps.

The playing fields and support infrastructure will not benefit from the frequent usage for anything other than cricket for some time to come.
At Arnos Vale, the approach to the new facility seems to be to treat it like a primadonna of sorts. We will sit back and boast of how good it looks while the elements take a heavy toll with rusting everywhere.
The Government does not have the resources to facilitate the kind of maintenance that is necessitated for Arnos Vale alone, far less for the other new and/or refurbished facilities.
The NSC has never been supplied with the resources in the past to facilitate adequate maintenance of one facility at Arnos Vale. Nothing will change in this regard.
Perhaps we should also raise here the suggested approach that the new Arnos Vale facility be put under separate management, not directly under the NSC.
This suggestion seems to ring as some sort of nepotism. It may well be that the Government of the day may be seeking to feather somebody else’s cap in so far as the creation of yet another entity for the sole management of Arnos Vale is concerned.
The NSC is in woeful need of an overhaul and this may well be where the Government should be channeling its energies rather than seeking piecemeal solutions of the order being suggested at present.
There is no way in the short to medium term that without significant access to the football fraternity the authorities would be able to raise revenue from sporting activities at the Arnos Vale or any of its other newly refurbished venues. The other revenue-generating options are entertainment and religious activities.
Initially, we had a fanciful document that heralded hotel development as part of the CWC2007 legacy here. That was never really on the cards and so it was wrong for the LOC or any other authority here to have suggested it in the first place.
Our legacy document stated, the inception of the Bed & Breakfast and Homestay Programme for Cricket World Cup 2007 not only seeks to supplement the existing hotel accommodation during this time but will remain in place hence on.
One is not certain that the LOC was serious when it placed the aforementioned paragraph in a document. One would really like to know where in St Vincent and the Grenadines any institution has established itself under the aforementioned programme.

An additional legacy component was that of medical, security and disaster management. Perhaps the less said about this the better. We continue to have difficulty with our disaster management system. Things happen and then we react. We have become proficient at adhocracy.
We now have shootings everywhere and murders are occurring at a very rapid pace. These suggest that we are not yet on top of any security arrangements for the masses of this country. 
Of course, the murder of Pakistan coach, Bob Woolmer, in his hotel room in Jamaica, put an unfortunate stigma on the security system in the entire Caribbean, something we will probably never live down.
The legacy document spoke to sports development in this country. What it should have addressed was the development of the sport of cricket almost exclusive of everything else.
There is nothing that the LOC has done to assist any other sport but cricket.
The netball fraternity was thrown into a tailspin of sorts as they pleaded with the LOC and the NSC to repair the courts at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex in time for the official opening ceremony of the Annual Cable and Wireless National Tournament on 29th April 2007. For some time the netball authorities were being shifted literally from pillar to post.
Vincentians do have a right to ask, What Legacy?
Those who love, play, and understand sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines must be cringing at the gross disservice done to them by the sports authorities here.
In a sense, we have found ourselves much like the Jamaican Tourism Association. The latter organisation was bothered by the way in which Caribbean Governments sacrificed the Caribbean Tourism Industry for 58 days of cricket. Here at home, we wonder why it was that the development of sports in the state was sacrificed and held ransom for four goat cook matches. – Keith Joseph

May 4, 2007

Lara leaves the critics behind

“Broad to Samuels, OUT, what a desperate way to bring down the curtain on Lara’s career. Samuels pushed the ball to mid-on, called for the run, Lara answered, and almost immediately Samuels changed his mind, leaving Lara stranded
A huge and warm reception from the crowd and players as Lara headed off but he was clearly unhappy – as well he might be – and he wasted no time in heading off. Samuels sold him down the river and Lara never had a chance to get back once Petersen had picked up cleanly … all he had to do was amble in and underarm the ball into the stumps from four yards.”
The foregoing was the way Cricinfo accounted for the dismissal of Brian Lara in the final One Day against England. It was the way Cricinfo saw the end of Brian Lara’s international cricketing career. To those who have been following the game of cricket and particularly the cricketing career of Brian Lara, his demise in his final innings, perhaps more than anything else, reflects the story of this cricketing genius. Lara, the far superior batsman, was once more sacrificed by a junior player: Samuels. The words of the Cricinfo writer tells it all: “Samuels sold him down the river”. The connoisseur of the sport of cricket will tell the tale of how many times our young cricketing turks felt that they had come of age and should not sacrifice themselves after having made the initial mistake, to the better player.
Here in the Caribbean, that has become a way of life. Our younger players do not care much for tradition, history or legacy in respect of any aspect of their lives or any area in which they have been fortunate enough to become involved.
Thus, to the likes of Marlon Samuel, who is Lara that he should not be sacrificed?
To Samuels, even if Lara is bowing out of the game after a most illustrious career, who is he that he should not be sold down the river?
After all, Lara’s time has come and is now at an end. It is the time now for the likes of Samuels and the rest of the young cricketing turks.
God help us all!

It is perhaps that we in the Caribbean are not accustomed to seeing before our eyes pure genius. We, therefore, have little experience of this and when we did eventually see it laid bare before our eyes we could not appreciate it. In many respects, it was like casting pearls before swine.

t is an unfortunate reality that while we here in the Caribbean sought after any and every possible issue about which to abuse Brian Lara, the rest of the international cricketing community saw his genius, appreciated it and were willing to lie prostrate before him even if he did not score big in their presence.
The South Africans were not prepared to go to the cricket if Lara did not make the team on that fateful first tour of South Africa.
In India, scores of cricket aficionados moved around the nation just to catch a glimpse of this cricketing magician.
In Australia, the legendary Donald Bradman declared him the best he had ever seen while on his way to scoring the most impressive 277 the world has ever known. Shane Warne and Glen McGrath have accredited Lara as being top of the heap, well ahead of anyone in their time, including their own Steve Waugh and India’s Sachin Tendulkar.
In Sri Lanka, Muttiah Muralitharan sees him as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
In England, they see Lara as having no equal in the game.
In New Zealand, they credit him with pure cricketing genius.
In Pakistan, the greats have lauded him year after year. Danish Kaneria credits Lara with being able to do what no other player has been able to do: read the spin on the ball from his hands. “He is a fantastic timer of the ball. He sees the ball from my hand and reads it so well which is the sign of a great player.” 
Here at home in the Caribbean, Lara is a spoilt brat – nothing to do with his game. We harass him for not smiling while he arrives at the airport. We have identified him as selfish and uncaring. He has been given all sorts of negative nomenclatures and many feel it necessary to boast, “we don’t like him”.

The Lara Chronicle
In 1990, in Karachi, Pakistan, Lara played his first One Day International against the home team. He scored 11 and was trapped leg before by Waqar Younis.  Later that same year, Lara replaced Carlisle Best on the West Indies Test team and made his debut in the third Test against Pakistan at Lahore. He made 44 and 5 in a drawn match.

In 1993, playing against Australia in Sydney, Lara cultured a sizzling maiden Test century that soon became his first double century. He scored an amazing 277 that got Sir Donald Bradman to leave his home filled with joy to observe the emergence of a cricketing genius on the world stage. Bradman actually felt that in that particular innings Lara could easily have broken Gary Sobers’ world Test record of 365.
The truth was later revealed that after being pushed, the Australian team gathered and Shane Warne it was who told the captain that his idea may be silly but that the only option left to them to get the wicket of the young Lara was an orchestrated run out. They all acknowledged that there was nothing that any of the bowlers could have done to capture his wicket.
At the age of 24, Lara became the new world Test record holder, surpassing Sobers’ 365 while playing against England in Antigua in 1994.
Always keen on challenges, Lara very humbly declared: “I’m only 24, and I must try my best to keep going and to improve … I will be aiming to beat my record, and I think I can do it one day.” 
Of course, the record was broken 9 years later by Australia’s Matthew Hayden, only to be recaptured by Lara a mere six months later in April 2004 in Antigua.
1994 was, however, Lara’s most remarkable year in the game of cricket. Shortly after capturing the world Test record in Antigua, he moved on to England where, playing for Warwickshire, he heaped 501 at Birmingham, a new first-class record in the game of cricket, to surpass Hanif Mohammad’s 499. 
In 1997 Lara assumed the captaincy of the West Indies team. In the encounter against Australia in Jamaica in the home series in 1998, he faced an angry Jamaican crowd, upset at the fact that he had replaced their own Courtney Walsh as the region’s cricket captain. They walked with placards ready to boo him at every turn. Instead, the cricketing genius caused the Jamaicans to place their placards under their bottoms and chant, “Lara! Lara!” as he delivered a stunning batting performance against the Aussies to score 213. Once more he had come through in adversity.
In the Second Test Lara turned on the heat and scored an amazing and exciting 213 against the Australians in Barbados where he scored an unbeaten 153. This achievement was rated as the second-best in the history of Test cricket.

In November 2004 Lara reached another historic milestone when he surpassed Vivian Richards’ 8,540 to become the West Indies highest Test scorer. One month later he hammered South Africa’s Robin Peterson in one over: 4,6,6,4,4,4, to become the new record holder for the most runs in a single over in Test cricket.
In April 2004 he scored the first recorded 400 in Test history and followed this with his attainment of 10,000 runs at Old Trafford in England later in the same year while playing against England. 
In November 2005 Lara went past Allan Border’s record of 11,174 runs in Test cricket with a double-ton in the third Test at Adelaide. Lara, with eight double-centuries, moved clear of Wally Hammond. In December last year Lara entered the real of the few who have scored over 10,000 runs in One Day Internationals, becoming the one to have attained this one-day total and over 11,000 runs in the fewest number of innings.

The Mettle of the Man
Brian Lara has indicated in no uncertain terms that his score of 153 not out against Australia in Barbados was one of the best he has ever played. Interestingly, when asked about it, he simply noted: “The pressure sometimes gets the better of me but it’s a lovely feeling to have the chips down, back against the wall, and come up with something special.” 
Indeed many of Lara’s innings were special.
To many Lara remains the greatest player of spin the world has ever seen.
When on the go there was no bowler in the world that was spared and it seemed impossible to get him out. That was the case when he scored 277 against Australia and again when he scored 501. It was this vintage genius that we saw when he slammed the English team for 400 and then declared. All of the commentators, without exception, lauded the innings as one of the greatest ever seen and noted that he could have gone on to score 500 or even 600 runs if he wanted to.
But it is this genius with the bat that has caused Lara the criticisms that have hounded him over the years. His batting brilliance was required by the fans at all times. He should never have failed in any innings. His slump in form was neither understood nor pardoned by the cricketing fans in the Caribbean.
Ken Gordon in an interview following Lara’s announcement on 19th April 2007, stated: “It is clearly a fundamental changing of the guard … Brian Lara has carried West Indies cricket perhaps for two decades and no one can take that away from him

People may say lots of things about he’s done this and he’s done that. But let’s understand, there’s a price that goes with genius. All our real greats, many of them have tended to be awkward, or people for one reason or another have been critical of them because I suppose they are driven by different forces and they think differently. 
We have to take the whole picture and accept the good with the bad. But overall, I think he’s so much more on the plus side. He’s been tremendous for West Indies cricket and I’d really like to see us honour that … I indicated to him that I hoped we would be able to find some way to convey our appreciation for him. His view was that he would like to go very quietly.” 
It is to our undying shame as a Caribbean people that while everywhere else in the cricketing world his batting genius was recognised and lauded at every turn and that people traveled many miles just to get a glimpse of his brilliance, even if he did not score much, his own Caribbean people were unforgiving.
It is most interesting that many of his critics came from former Test players, many of whom, in their own heyday, were neither among the most disciplined nor were they prone to accepting the very criticisms they were so eager to deliver on Lara’s head. But that comes with the territory.
Lara’s departure means, therefore, that for some time to come, our commentators and Lara’s detractors and numerous tormentors would have to get accustomed to finding someone else on whom to turn their guns. There is no genius in the team now nor is there any that can be seen lurking on the horizon.
Lara’s contribution to the sport will resonate around the cricketing world for many years to come, even as we here in the Caribbean seek to quickly bury him in the pettiness that leaves us little more than V.S Naipaul’s “Mimic Men.” – Keith Joseph

April 27, 2007

WICB should close shop

As it stands now, the entire Local Organising Committee, LOC, for Cricket World cup 2007, CWC2007, here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and indeed throughout the Caribbean must be considered the laughing stock of the entire international sporting community. Long before the commencement of the goat cook warm-up matches were held here, I chastised our LOC and the CWC2007 Organisers for their profound insensitivity to the cricketing culture of our Caribbean peoples. I berated the unbelievable weakness of these LOCs across the region and the respective national Governments, lame ducks, as they surrendered our cultural sovereignty and capitulated to the wishes of the International Cricket Council, ICC. 

Today, with the CWC2007 coming to a close and with no West Indies in the semi-finals, the many harsh restrictions have been lifted. At this late stage, we are attempting to get the international sporting community an opportunity to finally see firsthand the way we normally engage ourselves when we attend a cricket match. Today, at this late stage we are seeking to have our Caribbean people represented among the sea of visitors, embarrassed that perhaps, just perhaps, we sought to make so much money from gate receipts that we ignored the nature of the respective economies in the countries where we allocated matches in the CWC2007. 

Restrictions Galore
The national Governments all rushed to pass legislation that effectively diminished our peoples’ ability to have genuine fun at the sport that has come to mean so much to us. In hindsight, it does appear that the Governments of the region did not take the time to understand what they were signing nor the implications for our sport-loving peoples. They seemed so anxious to appear to be sports lovers themselves especially as such an approach always seems to win votes.
Small wonder then that the cricketing authorities were always quick to point out that they were authorised to implement the harsh and un-Caribbean measures for the CWC2007 because our Governments had already signed in support of them.

The LOCs across the region introduced a number of intense restrictions on our cricket lovers and without exception hid behind the ICC as the one to whom blame should be apportioned.
The reality is much different.
Former West Indies cricket captain, Sir Viv Richards, appealed to the authorities insisting that by the application of so many restrictions they would run contrary to the behavioural norms of our peoples at international cricket matches, but no one seemed eager to listen.
Others also came out very early and appealed for good sense to prevail but again no one wanted to listen.
Here at home, we had members of our LOC seeking to explain to the public that this is how it is done in the international arena, an arena in which they never had any organisational experience but about which they claimed sudden knowledge and authority. Representatives of our LOC were quick to defend the harsh restrictions. They turned their backs on years of history of the sport in our region and the way in which we have come to celebrate the sport.
The security took away the school children’s box juices and dumped them in the garbage bins and felt that they were somehow justified.
We had so many restrictions that we tied up ourselves beyond belief.
Interestingly here at home, the average man in the street may well have heard more about the restrictions put in place for our goat cook matches than about the players who were coming. The LOC generated absolutely no excitement about the matches being played here. Instead, they turned off the vast majority of our sports lovers by their seemingly heavy handed restrictions. They may well have engaged more in Restrictions Management as opposed to Sports Marketing and Sports Management.
Among the LOCs were too many inexperienced personnel. Too many of them were political appointees. Too many of them were not exposed to any sort of planning and/or involvement in the preparatory exercise for major international sporting events of this nature. Too many of them were too embarrassed to seek out assistance and/or advice from those at home in each of the territories who had such experience. Too many of them were fearful of the ICC.
Too many of them did not know any better and so could not muster any sort of challenge to the ICC or the WICB. Too many of the weaklings on the LOCs were too busy enjoying their new-found status that they simply did not bother themselves to preserve our otherwise treasured culture.

In the midst of all of this the West Indies Cricket Board, WICB did nothing to stem the tide. Perhaps its members were too busy counting the predicted financial windfall from hosting the Cup and the possibility that the WICB would eventually emerge from the financial RED.

Restrictions Lifted
The major restrictions have been removed from the CWC2007. Mac Fingall will have Gravy at his side at Barbados’ Kensington Oval. The party has begun at this late stage when all of those who hosted before now suffered so badly from their own insipid and regretful weakness.
In some cases, we are hearing that ticket prices have suddenly dropped. Where not so long ago we were being told that tickets were sold out we now have the sudden emergence of thousands of tickets for just about everywhere.
That sounds very much like here at home and the promotion for the England versus Australia goat cook match. 
Malcolm Speed, CEO of the ICC has made it clear that the prices affixed to the CWC2007 tickets were not the work of the sport’s international governing body. Speed insisted that the ICC always allow the host countries to affix prices based on their own reading of the economies within which they operate. It is not a top-down decision by the international sports body.
This statement by Speed apportions blame squarely on the shoulders of the CWC2007 Organising Committee and through that organisation to the WICB. This means that Chris Dehring and his seemingly high-flying CWC2007 organisation as well as Ken Gordon and his entire WICB Board must accept full responsibility for the untenable situation that obtained for a majority of the matches played thus far.
The ICC and the CWC2007 Organisers have suddenly capitulated in the face of declining crowds and the embarrassment suffered everywhere that has played host to everything, from goat cook warm-up matches to the actual competition.
How now do the LOCs around the region feel after having duped themselves into the rather sorry state that placed them at the mercy of annoying fans everywhere?
They lost themselves on the altar of status expediency.

The words of Chalkdust’s calypso remains true today and can be applied to our LOC and the others around the region, “Dem people laughin’ at we”.

West Indies
A brief look at the West Indies cricket team would leave us just where we were before the CWC2007.
The likes of Clive Lloyd and others who dared to suggest that we could win the Cup here at home and become the first host nation to win the Cup could only have been playing some kind of mind games with themselves. They certainly did not fool the Caribbean people.
The West Indies came into CWC2007 ranked number 8th and declining, not rising. Our recent performances showcased the barrenness of the cricket talent cupboard which itself appeared to be in tatters, probably from an abundance of termites.
The fact that we were ghosting the competition allowed our emotions to run high, so high that in fact some actually believed that a miracle would take place and somehow we would defy the statistical evidence of our years of poor performances and win the Cup.
There was never a chance of us getting beyond the Super 8s.
Our Caribbean peoples cannot possibly be disappointed. The poor performance should have been expected. The players on today’s West Indies team have never displayed any genuine pride on or off the field of play nor do they seem possessive of any sense of the liberative role that the game has played for us as a people.
As expected the captain will have to take the blame for the team’s performance but there has not been a single member who has displayed a desire to win on the field of play. This is as it should be. But what is new about this? 
Did we not know the captain’s limitations in respect of his approach to field placing? 
What choices were available to the selectors?
Prior to the competition, I insisted that we are consistently inconsistent in our approach to the game. Our poor performance during the CWC2007 is very consistent with the way we have played the game in the past several years.
We keep referring to those ‘golden years’ while ignoring that the nature of Caribbean society has changed significantly and the young sportspeople of today’s West Indies cricket team seem woefully deficient in terms of character.

If the WICB were to ever reveal some of the horror stories about the conduct of many of our young cricketers they would make many a head spin in awe.

Close Up Shop
The WICB has no genuine development strategy for the future of the sport in the region. The leadership, if one could call it that, has failed to impact the process of development in any way. 
The presence of Bennett King and his team has not done anything to change this approach and we have been sold out here at home yet again, with no one on the team expressing shame or embarrassment. 
Do not at all be surprised that they do not even watch the rest of the competition.
As a Caribbean people, we should be rallying together and issuing a clarion call for the immediate resignation of the WICB, a thoroughgoing investigation into all aspects in all countries of the hosting of the CWC2007, the firing of the entire cricket team, including management in all aspects and a rethinking of how the game should be developed in our region.

The Impact on the Game
For all intents and purposes, the CWC2007 has given the death-knell to the game of cricket in the Caribbean.
It has succeeded in turning off many of our youths and children from the sport rather than attract them to it. It has allowed many of our youths to justify their shift towards the likes of football, basketball and athletics, even rugby, as opposed to cricket.
It has justified our peoples’ absence from the regional cricket tournaments – Carib Cup and KFC Cup. It has justified the patrons’ decision not to pay the top dollar that was once requested by the LOCs to attend CWC2007 matches.
Rather than lift the stature of the sport of cricket in the Caribbean our slipshod approach to hosting the Cup may well have helped to bury it in shame.  – Keith Joseph

April 20, 2007

Our World Cup Legacy

The Cricket World Cup 2007 (CWC2007), for all intents and purposes has been completed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Never mind the fact that we are to stay as a standby venue until the conclusion of the entire programme. We are still essentially out of it. We have done our part. We are finished.

Kaput!What have we got? Legacy!Since the entire region’s Local Organising Committees (LOC) for the CWC2007 have seen it fit to hold fast to the latest buzz word, legacy, it seems important that we spend some more time addressing the legacy that we have left to successive generations of Vincentians and indeed the Caribbean peoples.

In every country involved in CWC2007 we have built some major facilities and done considerable work on the nation’s infrastructure. In some instances the populace have stood in awe wondering much like Alice in Wonderland, whether the political directorates have suddenly gone mad.
Everywhere the politicians have engaged themselves in some heady expenditures, many seeming not to have understood beforehand what they were getting themselves into and certainly, for the most part, without any clear determination of future usage to the benefit of the masses and to justify the expenditures.
Many have taken the liberty to pay for the sports infrastructure from the public purse without due consultation.
In a period of consultative democracy and heavy emphasis on sports tourism one would have expected that there would have been full involvement of the national sports fraternity, at the very least.
No such luck, especially here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The other sporting disciplines of Athletics, Football, and Rugby, all users of Arnos Vale, have been seemingly exempted from being consulted in any meaningful way on developments at the refurbished facility. The decision-making at almost every level has been influenced by the demands of Cricket and no other sport.
In Jamaica critics have asked fundamental questions about the developments in Trelawney since the culture of the community does not readily lend itself to the kind of changes that have been imposed on them.
In Guyana, it appears that the governing body for the sport is not in any way anxious to take responsibility for the ownership and maintenance of the new facility developed for the CWC2007. Instead, it leaves that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the government. Here again, the reason is simple. The maintenance requirements may well be beyond the capability of the association.
Barbados seems to have organised itself for the future and may well have understood perhaps more than any other LOC the precise meaning of the term legacy. However, it remains a shame to many that the country that considers itself in possession of the Mecca of Cricket in the Caribbean – Kensington Oval – did not see it fit to install lights at the venue given the global drift towards day-night matches in Cricket.

Sports Tourism
The view has been mooted in several quarters that given that all of the countries involved in the CWC2007 now have the capability to host major Cricket matches in the future and therefore we can witness a significant increase in Cricket competitions or activities involving the sport. It is also expected that this will bolster sports tourism in these countries in particular.
Off the top of one’s head that seems and sounds logical. The reality may be something quite different.
Cricket is one of the dying sports in the Caribbean. The game has failed to engender the enthusiasm of old. Evidence of this was the poor attendance at the recent semi-finals and final of the KFC Cup, a one-day series, in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Decidedly poor planning and the failure to energise itself in the region together with the very weak organisation of Cricket competitions in the region has meant a loss of interest in the sport at the regional and national levels in the Caribbean.
Outside of Barbados, not one of the other countries involved in the CWC2007 appears to have as yet engaged in any sort of medium and long-term strategic planning for the optimal use of the refurbished and/or new facilities.
There is nothing in West Indies Cricket at any level to suggest to us that St Vincent and the Grenadines will be host to more Cricket matches on an annual basis than currently obtains.
Indeed we may well conclude that for the most part the much-vaunted sports tourism legacy may be more expressions of hope than reality.

In all of the Caribbean countries playing host to the CWC2007 attempts have been made to develop a cadre of volunteers to meet the requirements of the event. Here again, the responses of the various countries have differed considerably.
While some have been late in seeking out appropriate people for training and others have been pulling hairs from their heads, others have established a more professional approach.
In some cases, the country has utilised the opportunity afforded by the hosting of the CWC2007 to develop a national Volunteer Corps. Essentially, therefore, one important legacy in such cases is the fact that some countries that are serious about sports tourism now have available to them a corps of individuals and groups that have been trained and who may well make themselves available for the hosting of future sporting events.
Instead of having to reinvent the wheel as it were, some countries could easily aid the sporting bodies in bidding to host regional and international sporting events on a regular basis such as would engender greater income-earning capacity from a professional sports tourism thrust.

Organisational skills
The hosting of the CWC2007 has facilitated, in some cases, the bringing together of several professional people in a sports-organisational framework in pursuit of a common objective.
The approach here mentioned means that in each of the countries involved in the hosting of matches there should now be a cadre of competent persons capable of engaging their skills to organise future sporting events in the interest of national development.
It is unfortunate though that in a number of countries the Cricket fraternity and the politicians have sought to keep the organisation for the CWC2007 in a manner akin to a secret lodge, leaving everything to a select few and in a number of instances deliberately omitting some highly qualified and experienced personnel. In this sense, there was no real attempt at bringing together the very best minds and expertise available in some countries to ensure optimal success.
In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, the two most recent university graduates in Sports management were not in any serious way involved in the organisation of the warm-up matches. Maybe it was all a case of adopting an approach that saw the event as merely hosting warm-up matches and therefore saw no real benefit in seeking assistance from such new-found expertise.
Small wonder then that young graduates are frustrated and are forced to find work elsewhere their intellect and newly acquired skills are considered valuable and eagerly put to use.
The end result, therefore, is that in some countries the legacy will witness a corps of competence at the level of sports management skills. In some other countries, we will have accepted mediocrity and called it our best.

The Bid process
The various governing bodies of the cricketing nations of the Caribbean had to engage themselves in a Bid Process to earn the right to host matches in the CWC2007. For many of them, this was the first time that they were ever engaged in such a practice.

It remains one of the surprising features among sporting organisations in the Caribbean that Cricket in the region seemed
not to have had much experience in having to bid for anything. One can only hazard a guess that this may well have to do with the very low value of regional and Cricket competitions that no one really wants to bid for them. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) itself such a weak organisation has been unable to elevate the standard of any regional competition to the level where they warrant a Bid process of some substance.
Of course, since many had no prior experience, they immediately sought help from outside. This is consistent with the legacy of centuries of slavery and colonialism. Rather than first explore the home front for pertinent expertise it was in many cases assumed that none existed and therefore the first and perceived best option was to look elsewhere.
Whatever about the final outcome there is little doubt that in each of the participating countries some attempt was made at preparing a Bid Document, a common feature among international and increasingly among regional sporting bodies. This should count for something.

The major challenge in the CWC2007 legacy is really the ability of the region’s governments to maintain the spate of facilities that they have constructed, especially in light of the fact that the game continues to follow the path of the West Indies Cricket team in so far as rapid loss of popularity among the masses is concerned.
In Grenada, the new cricket facilities at the Queen’s Park has sparked much debate about what can be done following the conclusion of the CWC2007. The former Chairman of the Stadium Committee there has already indicated that he does not wish to have anything to do with it following the World Cup. The reason is simple. When the stadium was considerably smaller in nature than is now the case the then Committee of Management was told that the government did not have the resources to maintain it. The Committee, therefore, had to engage in a series of activities to raise the needed funds and still found it a very difficult task.

In the case of Grenada therefore a survey discovered that the usage of the former facility (pre-hurricane Ivan) saw the stadium being used mostly for entertainment purposes with the very sport for which it was constructed leveled with religious groupings significantly well behind.
In other words, entertainment occupied the stadium for some 70% of its total usage while the sport of cricket and religious activities were level at 15% usage.
The situation in respect of the Arnos Vale Playing Field is no different. The National Sports Council (NSC) has been hard-pressed to meet the costs associated with its maintenance. One is doubtful that the NSC has ever been able to meet these costs in full in any given year, even with income from the occasional One Day International Cricket match.
This may well have been the reason why the Arnos Vale stadium has been in such a state of disrepair, for the most part. Had anyone been privy to the structures at Arnos Vale when the refurbishing work was being undertaken one would readily have understood the very low level of maintenance that the facility enjoyed over the years.
We have been particularly poor in the area of maintenance of our sports facilities generally. This seems something of a historical fact in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The best-kept sports facilities here have always been those that were privately owned and managed.
In many instances, the NSC is bereft of anyone in its immediate employ who has the expertise in preventive maintenance. Thereby hangs a tale. What has happened is that it is left to the appointed Board to determine the needs of the organisation’s facilities in this particular aspect. Madness!
Sports facilities are expensive ventures and must be treated as such.
Unlike those who suggest that governments have little choice but to expend resources on culture never perhaps expecting it to pay for itself, sport can and often does make significant contributions to the national economy in a variety of ways.

As we end our part of the CWC2007 here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we have little choice but to wait on the powers that be to suddenly fashion for us a plan for the continued use and maintenance of the Cricket facilities that have been developed.

We also have to wait to see the unfolding of the legacy that the LOC pundits have been boasting about for so long.
If the Arnos Vale could not have been fully completed as originally intended we cannot feel confident at the present time that it will eventually be so completed.
Let us wait and see how long it takes to repair the netball courts at Arnos Vale.
Let us not have the damage we have done in our haste to engage in four or five days of Cricket in St Vincent and the Grenadines become more of a legacy than that which the organisers originally hoped for.  – Keith Joseph

March 16, 2007

Welcoming the Cricket World Cup

The Cricket World Cup 2007, CWC2007, is about to commence. Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we are hosts to Australia, Bermuda, England and Zimbabwe, for some warm-up matches which we seem to treat as though they are in any significant way related to the competition that will hold centre stage over the next few days. The Caribbean now plays host to the cricketing nations that have somehow distinguished themselves enough to play at this level. World Competition. It is always admirable when a country or a group of countries can secure the rights to host a major international sporting competition. The Cricket World Cup caters to the cricketing nations of the world and they are not many, in comparison to some of the other major sports. Suffice it to state here nonetheless that those countries that play the game will have more than a passing interest in the upcoming CWC2007.
Australia has been showing the world that it possesses the capacity to take top honours in the sport almost at will. However, the likes of Pakistan, India, South Africa, and the West Indies are almost certain to pose serious challenges this time around.
There is little doubt that the competition will be very keen and patrons and viewers alike should experience considerable enjoyment for the duration of the competition.

The sale of television rights to the competition has already provided the ICC with impressive revenues but it has also guaranteed the entire cricketing world that they would be able to follow the fortunes of their respective teams and/or favourites during the competition.

Here in the region Cable and Wireless have already entered into an agreement with Caribbean Media Corporation, CMC, to ensure that everyone in the Caribbean has access to all of the matches being played during the World Cup.

Sports Tourism
The Caribbean Governments are perhaps most hopeful that the major impact of the region’s hosting of the CWC2007 would be the sustainability of the sports tourism thrust in which they have heavily invested.
Barbados has perhaps continued in the vein of being the most advanced in the Caribbean where sports tourism is concerned and the leadership there seems determined to maintain this top billing.
One look at the refurbished Kensington Oval and one understands the importance of doing things in style and of looking beyond the narrow confines of partisan politics when developmental options have to be taken on board. Excellence is never sacrificed.
Barbados has always sought to ensure that its construction of facilities of whatever type is a class act. The Kensington Oval now stands as easily the single most attractive piece of sports real estate in the entire Caribbean. It already boasts the region’s most attractive airport terminal.
Barbados has been the most organised Caribbean country in respect of the organisation of sports tourism activities. The annual Garfield Sobers Schools Cricket Competition, now well established, has long since furnished sports tourists from far and wide. Several other sporting disciplines are involved enough to allow Barbados to be able to produce an annual magazine that encourages the world to come to Sporting Barbados.
There is no surprise therefore that Barbados was the first Caribbean country to organise additional accommodation for the CWC2007. Once England is in the region for cricket, Barbados is overbooked.
Several of the other Caribbean countries are hopeful that the approach of the Bajans will be copied in their own respective best interests.

There is of course the reality that not all of the Caribbean countries fully understand and appreciate what constitutes sports tourism and some simply use the term merely because it may now be in vogue. For some, there is as yet nothing in place to even begin to conceptualise the potential of sports tourism relative to the national economies. Others are probably hoping that following the CWC2007 everything will simply fall into place and sports tourism dollars will fall from the skies like manna.
Where there have been no creative structures established for sports tourism the CWC2007 will yield nothing of substance that is sustainable in this important area of sports tourism.

The International Cricket Council, ICC, has already secured global and regional sponsors that have ensured the organisation a rather sound treasury following the conclusion of the event. But this aspect of the CWC2007 like the television rights does not really translate into any windfall financial benefits to the region. Indeed there are those who would readily suggest that even the West Indies Cricket Board, WICB, will probably find out that whatever finds are allocated to it by the ICC following the competition’s conclusion will probably only be enough to clear its indebtedness and leave a pittance for the future. That means being right back to basics.
The Governments of the region, for all of their unbelievable financial outlays, will all be hard-pressed to determine just how long it will take before they begin to see the returns impacting the national treasuries.
In several of the Caribbean countries, there is already grave concern that while there are benefits from the hosting of the CWC2007 enough of these are not likely to filter down to the small man involved in the business. Barbadian, Richard Sealey, has already claimed, “I meet too many people, too many ordinary Barbadians, who are of the view that in spite of popular suggestions that it is going to be an economic bonanza for Barbados, that there is nothing tangible in it for them.” (Barbados Advocate 12 Feb. 2007)

Sealey charged that big companies from outside will be the ones taking the biggest slice of the CWC2007 economic cake.
Sealey asked: “What opportunities are there for modest operations, for small businesses etc.? … it is further compounded when we hear that an Australian company had to design the logo and we have several fine Arts students throughout the Caribbean … where an Australian firm is doing the clean-up work at Kensington. We hear of outside interests benefiting, then we have to reflect on who are the real beneficiaries.
Sealey continued: “This is important because I would have thought that if you are talking about an event that is going to be a bonanza, then surely the economic benefits should be for all.”
In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines, there is as yet no plan in place for the use of the facilities beyond the warm-up matches despite comments to the contrary. There is also the matter of the LOC seeming to have accepted just about everything that the ICC placed before it almost without question.
The number of tents of the overlays here seems to be more than there is in neighbouring Grenada. If that is the case then there is a need for some explanation given the cost of the overlays.
Fazeer Mohammed makes the point: If all of this is partially justified by the economic value of television exposure, how different is it going to be from the cumulative effect of 17 years of “live” coverage of international cricket? What new audience, outside of the hundreds of millions who have watched cricket in the West Indies from 1990 to 2006, is the World Cup going to attract? I’m not talking only about the established cricket nations, for West Indian cricket has been viewed “live” for years by fans in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia (in other words, most of the planet) for years. What reliable figures are there to show that such prolonged exposure has significantly improved the tourism influx?
He also notes that “I’m still left to wonder if, after all the cost overruns, hasty quick-fix measures and governmental intervention to expedite stalled projects, we’ll be left with a debt that could not be justified by the expected long-term revenue-earning potential of the nearly two months of constant global exposure.”

Over Regulation
We are hosting warm-up matches, not matches that impact the outcome of the competition in so far as they are really opportunities for the teams involved to engage in some final preparations. There is absolutely no reason therefore for us to have engaged in the heavy acceptance of every possible regulation that the ICC imposed.
One is not at all convinced that the WICB did enough to preserve the cricket culture that we have made for ourselves and which has proven to be decidedly attractive to the rest of the cricketing world.
For the licking of the spoon, we may well have lost spoonful in respect of the extent to which we appear to have bent over backward to accommodate the ICC. We have surrendered to the utmost. This seems to have been the point made by Sir Viv Richards some time ago when he delivered heavy criticism on the WICB.

Legacy is the latest buzz word among members of every Local Organising Committee in the region.
Unfortunately, this word has suddenly acquired political currency, more so because it does appear that the leadership can find little else by way of justification for the near madness that has emerged among regional Governments and their LOCs.
Fazeer Mohammed notes, “It is easy to talk about legacy and vision. However, do the realities and limitations of our smaller island economies suggest that the legacy will really be a meaningful one, or that the vision of sustainability is overly optimistic?”
The experienced sports journalist was forced to ask the very pertinent question following his days of television coverage of the KFC Cup semi-finals and finals in St Vincent and the Grenadines, 15–17 February 2007: “Skeptics like yours truly ask how can all this expense make sense when there is no guarantee, even more so now with so many stadiums now in contention, that St Vincent will actually be included on the international cricket calendar every year from now on?”

It is so easy to talk about the national pride that should evolve from any new construction. Unfortunately, Governments around the Caribbean are apt to boast of every new structure, however ugly in comparison to what obtains elsewhere. Few take time to be aesthetically beautiful and here again Barbados stands out for commendation.
We talk glibly about legacy without any genuine appreciation for what we have done as opposed to what we could have or should have done instead. In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines CWC2007 has been a very closed shop. We can only hope that when it is all over that those responsible will raise their hands high acknowledging that they did it all by themselves, and like the politicians claim that they did it at least ostensibly on behalf of the beloved masses.
Fazeer may well be correct in his own conclusion, “So if most of the hotels were going to be filled every tourist season for years to come anyway, who will really benefit from the experience if all the fancy legacy talk, liberally sprinkled with references to stadium ‘masterpieces’, amounts to a pile of debt that taxpayers from Trelawny to Providence are left to deal with?
Only time will tell, by which time we would more than likely have forgotten who to praise or who to hold responsible anyway, which is probably the real reason why the Caribbean is such an idyllic World Cup destination.” – Keith Joseph

March 2, 2007

Our CWC2007 Preparations

Caribbean governments must be heavily criticised for their total failure to have first sought a thorough understanding of just what they were getting into when they were asked to support the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in hosting the Cricket World Cup 2007 (CWC2007). One can safely say that the political leaders who make up the Caricom Heads of government all seem to have been lost on the historic role that Cricket has played in the liberation of our peoples in the Caribbean.

Many of them may well recall the years of struggle to gain international recognition in the game of the former colonial master, England, even as the region sought to fight off the lingering consequences of four centuries of slavery and colonialism.
But that is not in and of itself sufficient reason to justify the giddy-headedness that has overtaken them all in pursuit of the hosting of the Cricket World Cup 2007.
The current buzz around the region over the past several months and even now relates to our general tardiness in the construction industry and our almost total and embarrassing inability to adhere to deadlines.
Even as the evidence suggests that in many instances patrons will probably get some wet paint on their clothes during the CWC2007 matches, the leaders of the respective Local Organising Committees (LOC) are claiming otherwise, blinded perhaps by their own over-inflated sense of importance. Their heads seem buried in the sand.
Had the same course of action taken by the Caricom Heads been pursued by our regional business leaders they would have been dubbed incompetent and lacking in their own understanding of the fundamental principles of management by their respective governments.
But how dare we refer to our political leaders disparagingly?
They have merely been given to an appreciation of the game of Cricket that defies logic and our commonsense understanding of how business is conducted.
It also seems that in respect of the CWC2007 the Caribbean governments appear to be bearing expenses of an order that previous hosts did not have to undertake.
For example, we need to know whether ever before in Cricket World Cup history the ICC ever mandated warm-up matches organised by the host. Was it not the case hitherto for the various competing countries to organise their own warm-up matches and at their own expense?

If that was the case why did the ICC seek to change it when the event is being held in the Caribbean and where travel is so expensive and the economies so disparate in terms of general well-being?
What were our governments thinking?
Were they merely interested in bragging rights?
Perhaps it is a case of the authorities being hopeful that once the facilities are provided the sport of cricket will suddenly revive itself.
Where are the development plans of the West Indies Cricket Board?
What has been the impact of the strategies the WICB has been seeking to implement for the salvation of the sport in this Caribbean?
Many of the governments have been lost in a sort of cricket wilderness where they have forgotten that there is something known as reality.

Heavy capital expenditures
There may well be reason enough to believe that even now, before the commencement of the World Cup, many of our Caribbean Governments are unaware of precisely why they would have committed themselves to some of the heady capital expenditures they have made.
Perhaps it is a matter of pride or rather a matter of shame.
Our political leaders are embarrassed at the almost obscene expenditures in which they have immersed their respective countries without adequate advance planning.
Many of the governments have been unable to explain just what has happened.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we have engaged in the development of facilities without an adequate cost-benefit analysis.
We have spent millions on a sport that has shown no real penchant for survival and where other sporting disciplines are on the rise but do not receive the requisite attention.
Here at home, we may well have engaged in some wasteful expenditures.

Would the LOC inform us whether or not we were required to lay the same surface for the entire playing fields being used for training and the actual warm-up games or were we not instead only expected to guarantee that the wickets were of the same nature?
While we were busy spending monies to ensure that all playing fields being used were of the same expensive nature others in the region merely made certain that the wickets were of the same nature. Check out the playing field at La Sagesse in Grenada as an example.

The overlay
Almost all of the countries hosting the Cricket World Cup have found themselves with relatively heavy expenditures on what is termed Overlays.
The peoples of the region may not all have been exposed to precisely how some of the expenditures of the various organising committees have been made.
The Overlays are very expensive.
We see them as the large white tents located on Arnos Vale II. They are frightfully expensive.
Would the Local Organising Committee tell this nation just what are the costs involved in the renting of the fanciful tents that are now located at Arnos Vale II?
Why is it that the Vincentian public, whose taxpayers’ monies are being used to cover our costs related to the hosting of warm-up matches, are not being exposed to the detailed breakdown of the financial expenditures for the different components dealt with here?
One of the considerations that bother Vincentians is that if they do cost a pretty penny why did we not invest in securing more permanent structures to satisfy the requirements of the World Cup and which could serve us well in future undertakings.
Another consideration is why was it deemed necessary for us to have so many when we are merely hosting warm-up matches?
At one stage we were of the view that Arnos Vale II was one of the facilities being significantly upgraded with the same type of surface as the other grounds being used during the time the teams are here for the warm-up matches.

Suddenly, however, we are witnessing the mushrooming of the overlay on Arnos Vale II to such an extent that it is virtually impossible for us to see that arena experience any significant change from what it was previously.
For years the netball fraternity here cautioned patrons and players alike to desist from walking on the surface of the four netball courts at Arnos Vale with high heel shoes. This was because the cost of the surface was high and that it needed adequate maintenance.
Today it is heart-rending to witness that a massive tent has been placed on one of the courts and that there are several large bolts inserted into the foundation to maintain the structure.
At the conclusion of the CWC2007, the Netball court at Arnos Vale will be a disaster or approaching that state at the very least. One is not certain about the availability of financial resources to do the extensive repairs that will be necessary if the facility is to regain some of its former stature.
It appears that the National Sports Council, under whose management the nation’s sports facilities (with the exception of the Victoria Park) fall, may not have been appropriately informed of the precise nature of what was going to be done with the Netball court and that some of its members were simply amazed and shocked when they saw it.
It should be noted here that the Local Organising Committee of the CWC2007 was given managerial and other rights to the facilities at Arnos Vale, Stubbs, and Victoria Park until after the Cricket World Cup.
It also does appear that the Netball Association was not duly informed of the course of action being undertaken.
It does not matter that the facilities belong to the National Sports Council and not the Netball
Association. It is an act of courtesy to inform the governing body of the sport and to have them involved.
But it does appear that the CWC2007 is not at all about involvement.
There must be a concern in other quarters about the damage to other facilities.
The St Vincent Grammar School Playing Field and the Calliaqua Playing Field have both been earmarked for use as parking lots for the warm-up matches.
The government of this country, utilising funds from the National Lottery, has expended millions of dollars on several previous occasions to develop the Grammar School Playing Field only to engage in actions that seem to undo all that has been undertaken.
The most recent damage to the Grammar School Playing Field was the use of the facility for a political rally in inclement weather. It took several months and lots of dollars to bring it back to some semblance of acceptability.

Now we are threatening to have a similar situation by deeming it suited to parking.
There seems something wrong with adopting a stance that on the one hand purports to be constructive while at the same time engages in the damage and possible destruction of other facilities.
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the CWC2007 is the way in which the flow of information has been managed. Perhaps we should instead say, how it has not been managed for this is what appears to be the case.

There is a major nightmare in respect of travel in the Caribbean under normal circumstances. For the Cricket World Cup, these problems will be considerably exacerbated.
Suffice it to say here that the closure of BWIA and the commencement of operations by Caribbean Airlines have not helped as many people are waiting to measure the effectiveness of the new enterprise.
The Liat/Caribbean Star project and the closure of the Caribbean Sun do not appear to be in the best interest of the CWC2007.
Both projects have come much too close to the World Cup.
While the CWC2007 will ensure that participating teams do get around via the necessary charters the supporters are not in receipt of similar guarantees. One can readily see the weekly traffickers having to do that much more to ensure that they ply their trade uninterrupted.
One can expect crowded airports and furious travellers.

Skewed Development
The region has lost the initiative it once had in the sport of Cricket.
There was a time the West Indies team, initially through the action of Deryck Murray, introduced the all-pace attack that was later to take precedence as our modus operandi. For years following that vein, we ruled the Cricket world.

Unfortunately, we learned nothing from our successes. We introduced no genuine or intelligible development plan for the game in the region. We climbed the ladder of success without ever attempting to consider what it would take to make it sustainable.
Essentially, despite our years at the top of international Cricket in all its versions at the time, the WICB did not prepare itself and the sport in the region for the response of the countries that were involved in the game before us and who did not take kindly to our command of it.
Our weakness in the face of the response of the developed world in Cricket forced us to cow under their pressures and accept the ICC ruling delimiting the number of bouncers used in an over.
We lost this element of control even as the ICC placed at its helm a former West Indies Cricketer of immense talent, the late Clyde Walcott.
We were later forced out of professional cricket in England, at one time the bedrock of our development. We never developed the game at home being ever reliant on the Mother Country for guidance and development.
Once out in the cold, our game suffered and today we crave an audience at local and regional matches for no one seems interested beyond the players of the game.
The embarrassment in the form of so few in attendance at the semi-final and final of the KFC Cup at Arnos Vale over the previous weekend speaks volumes to the state of the game in the region, even as we prepare to host the Cricket World Cup.
The modus of the WICB does not inspire confidence.
The fact of hosting the Cricket World Cup, in and of itself, cannot change the way the WICB conducts business. The leopard does not readily change its spots.
Our preparations for the Cup leave much to be desired.
The buzz word, legacy, may be nothing more than another fanciful concept that serves its time only for the 58 days of the tournament.  – Keith Joseph

February 23, 2007

The Cricket World Cup 2007 - a political seesaw

Visas disaster
As the commencement of the Cricket World Cup 2006 draws ever nearer we are finding a number of straws blowing in the wind that causes grave concern among Caribbean people.
The problem in the region is of course that once we subject those in authority to criticism, however constructive, there is a very strong tendency for them to take it as a personal affront and to target in response the messenger rather than the message.

It is nonetheless very important that we come to the realization that the CWC2007 is being held in the Caribbean and hence we are all stakeholders.
This columnist wishes to address some of the problem areas that are currently surfacing.

The long-serving Honorary Consul for Trinidad and Tobago in Australia since 1981, former athlete, Mike Agostini, recently resigned from his post over the matter of the special visas that Caricom has agreed to put in place for visitors coming to the region during the period of the CWC2007.
According to reliable sources, Agostini insisted that all is not well with the arrangements for the visas in shambles. He noted that the matter of the visas which would guarantee visitors to the region hassle-free transfer between countries hosting matches was rushed in no more than months and even then not properly investigated and carefully considered or else reconsidered. Especially when the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, wrote to all governments involved asking them not to do what they did.
According to Agostini, the handling of the visas was undertaken in a sloppy and still seemingly haphazard manner…in which the implementation of the arduous and lengthy processes of actually issuing these visas occurred, or more so still have failed to get started yet.
The good news is that Agostini suggested that there are about 7000 Australians and 3000 New Zealanders who are keen on coming to the region for the CWC2007 experience. The bad news is that the visa problems are causing such an immense headache at this late stage in the preparatory exercise that it may impact negatively on those willing to come here.

Agostini suggested that only a few travel agencies in his neck of the woods are aware of the website to be used to apply for the special visas hence ordinary travellers may well be much less informed.
An embarrassed Agostini noted that since the visas become mandatory from January 15 onwards things can only get worse, as more and more Aussies and Kiwis discover that they cannot travel to the Caribbean, even if only for a cruise and not cricket, without having such a stamp inserted into their passports. There is already one instance of someone wanting to go on a Caribbean cruise, with no interest whatsoever in the cricket and not even at the time it’ll be on, being told by their travel agent that they will not be able to board the cruise liner without it.
The problem is a difficult one to fathom since Sydney, Australia, hosted the prestigious and far more popular Olympics in 2000 and Melbourne, Australia, recently hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and at no time were there these difficulties.
The problem ought not to have arisen at this late stage.
Anyone who has been involved in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the FIFA World Cup would have been able to explain the process to the governments of the region.
The Athens Olympics were the most expensive held thus far because of the security concerns following the September 11 attacks of 2001 and yet they were able to facilitate security checks on the heavy traffic that flowed through the nation of Greece for the Games with relative ease. This was because of the level of advanced planning undertaken and the expertise involved in the organization of the event.

Confusion reigns
Tourism officials in Jamaica appear to be focused intently on the bigger picture – the long term impact on the country’s tourism industry.
The Observer-Reporter for the Jamaica Observer newspaper wrote on Friday 5 January 2006 that The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is suggesting that Jamaica be pulled from a Caribbean Community (Caricom) decision to require a special visa for visitors coming to the region during the ICC World Cup Cricket tournament beginning March.

The writer noted that Horace Peterkin, president of the umbrella grouping, said the industry would prefer if Caricom abandons the visa requirement, but if it did not, Jamaica should put its national interest first and go it alone.
The Association appears clearly upset at the way things have gone and seems to adopt a stance that may seem harsh but which is nonetheless intended to safeguard what it perceives to be a more reasonable approach in light of the importance of tourism to the nation’s development strategy.
The paper stated, Peterkin accused the regional grouping of sacrificing the Caribbean tourism industry “for 58 days of cricket” and doing so without consulting with the tourism ministers, the tourist boards or the embassies of the region.
We know that security is the main concern to the ICC and our governments, but protecting a few months of cricket versus losing years of sweat equity, reputation, and confidence of these markets along with the immediate income of the stakeholders (some of whom could go out of business) is a very hard pill to swallow,” Peterkin wrote in a letter to Jamaica’s tourism minister, Aloun Assamba.
Peterkin is clearly upset at the situation and expressed his organisation’s perception of the consequences, “massive and immediate cancellation of all forward bookings” from countries which are now required to get Caricom visas, touching: all USA and Canadian residents, residents of certain European, Central and Eastern European countries, South and Central America and all African and Arab countries.
Additional fallout could also include: loss of airlift to Jamaica from the affected regions and countries; cancellation of future charter operations from the affected regions; widespread bad press internationally; an immediate end to the inclusion of Jamaica in all tour operating programmes in the affected countries, in favour of islands which do not have such regulations, for example, the Dominican Republic; and loss of market share… other possible repercussions like liability lawsuits from tourism companies and airlines which have invested in Jamaican tourism programmes from the affected regions, “for financial losses they will incur”, and from the travelling public; creation of ill-will and lack of confidence with overseas tourism ministries and tour operators and travel agencies in the affected countries, “that will be irreparable“…”We would lose our Winter Season, during which the island enjoys its highest revenues per visitor, and highest occupancy levels, and the far-reaching effects would affect next summer as well.”

The situation is indeed grave and forces us to ponder on who really has been involved in the entire planning exercise relative to the CWC2007. Peterkin declared, “This matter is a grave one which needs to be explained to Jamaica. Caricom has done it again … this time in the name of 58 days of World Cup Cricket … How this could happen is beyond all of us in the industry.
A meeting was recently convened in Barbados to deal with the visa issue but the Jamaican industry officials seem intent on ensuring that “If Caricom is not able to cancel the ruling, which comes into effect on January 15, 2007 (and lasts until May 31), then Jamaica should break away from the grouping in the interest of protecting its long-term interest.”
In what appears to be a stinging indictment on the way things are going Peterkin is quoted as saying, “I am sorry for the ministers of tour
ism who have been given a basket to carry water on this decision,”… “but we have to act in the best interest of Jamaica.”

Barbados has indicated that the Kensington Oval would not be available for use for the Carib Cup regional Tournament which got started last week. Alternative venues have been used instead for the four-day and one-day matches.
The same has occurred in Jamaica where Sabina Park is also not ready. In both cases, the problem is not with the playing surfaces but rather with the attendant facilities that are still not ready.
Clearly, we must be concerned since it would appear that in the region with only a few days left before teams begin to arrive there is a strong sense of last-minutism.
In this region, we procrastinate too frequently without necessarily counting the cost. Failure to deliver a world-class World Cup in all aspects may hurt us much more than we can possibly imagine.

The recent rains here in St Vincent and the Grenadines did a fair amount of damage to the construction works that are taking place there. The damage seems relatively serious to the casual observer. The lower part of the fence behind the double-decker stand has fallen into the river.

Of concern here is the fact that we know about that river and we ought to have engaged in a more deliberate analysis of the requirements before settling for the actual construction work that was undertaken.
The outfield at Stubbs and Arnos Vale II still seem unacceptable to the naked eye and one wonders what measures could now be taken at this critical stage to facilitate the requisite improvements.

There is every reason for us to believe that in this Caribbean region we do have the requisite expertise to organize and administer a tremendous Cricket World Cup. It, however, seems more than a little unfortunate that in far too many instances we are hearing complaints of the cricket fraternity being too possessive and of having kept the organization too close to its chest without realizing the enormity of what is involved.
In some countries, the cricket fraternity simply assumed that it is in possession of the requisite expertise. They are now recognizing rather late in the game that this is not necessarily the case.
There is a sense in which we are hearing clarion calls being made by all and sundry, not the least of whom are the region’s political leaders, for the Caribbean people to support the World Cup. This is rather late and sounds very much as though we are in crisis mode.
Tickets sales are not what were initially expected at this stage and we are not being told why this is the case.
We love our cricket in the Caribbean but one wonders to what extent we love it enough to do all that is required to stave off embarrassment at a global level.  – Keith Joseph

January 12, 2007

West Indies Women's Cricket 2005

23 players named for 2005 Training Squad.

1. Anisa Mohammed    – T&T

2. Annabelle Lewis       – Guyana

3. Candace Adkins       – Guyana

4. Cordel Jack              – St Vincent

5. Felicia Cummings    – T&T

6. Indomatie Goordial  – Guyana

7. Jade Chadee           – T&T

8. Juliana Nero            – St Vincent

9. June Ogle                – Guyana

10. Kirbyina Alexander – T&T

11. Kycia Knight           – Barbados

12. Kyshona Knight     – Barbados

13. Lee Ann Kirby        – T&T

14. Marissa Aguillera   – T&T

15. Myschia George    – St Vincent

16. Nadine George      – St Lucia

17. Nelly Williams        – T&T

18. Pamela Lavine      – Barbados

19. Philippa Thomas   – St Lucia

20. Sabrina Munroe    – Guyana

21. Shakera Selman   – Barbados

22. Sherry Ann John   – St Vincent

23. Zaheeda Samdally – Guyana