Same Old! Same Old!

The West Indies cricket team has just completed another series. This time around the opponents came from the Indian sub continent.
There are those whop would readily suggest that the regional team did not perform badly. Others may say that the team did well. The reality is that the West Indies cricket team remains a major disappointment for the majority of Caribbean citizens.
During the series against India, the West Indies team was seemingly only able to attract consistently large crowds to the test match in Dominica, the nation’s first. Every commentator spoke glowingly about the attendance. Of course they were making comparisons with the attendance at the other regional venues.
It should be noted that first time always brings record attendance. People are keen to be part of history.
The explanation for the poor attendances at the other regional venues has to do with the long history of the sport being played there and the fact that their sports-loving people have had years of watching the famous West Indians do damage to one visiting team after another.
Some are therefore keen to suggest that because of the attendance we are likely to see more matches being allocated to Dominica in the Windward Islands that would be the case for some of the more traditional venues. This remains to be seen.
The most recent series against India revealed that the cupboard might not be as bare as we once thought.
Captain Darren Sammy has surprised many in the role he has been handed if only because the critics of the game in the region underestimated him. He has led by example more with the ball than with the bat. He may not yet however be in receipt of the full support of his players although he may not wish to comment on this. The body language of the players on the field of play tells the story.
Ravi Rampaul may not be a tear-away fast bowler but his performances have been impressive at times. The same can be said of Kemar Roach who possesses immense potential and could do much better with training.
The return of Fidel Edwards came with two impressive five-wicket hauls in consecutive test matches. All reports indicate a revitalized young cricketer as hungry as he should be for his place in the team.
Bishoo has tremendous potential and would need to be exposed to much more rigid training before we can be satisfied that he can hold his own in the spin category.
We have also seen Adrian Bharat show some level-headedness albeit not consistently enough for us to be satisfied.
Chanderpaul finally found the fortitude to stick around long enough at the wicket to aid his team to a respectable total in the final test match to stave off another defeat.
The performance of young Kirk Edwards in procuring his first test century was welcome against a wily Indian bowling attack on a pitch that was as unpredictable as the others found around the region.
Marlon Samuels still possesses the capacity to do well with the bat but there may well be issues relating to his own level of discipline in this regard.
There were surely many around the region who expected India to humiliate the West Indies even in the absence of the master, Sachin Tendulkar. This did not happen. The team was competitive, for the most part and this must some positives on which the WICB can build going forward.
Chris Gayle
The omission of Chris Gayle has led to much discussion around the Caribbean. Chris is an asset to the West Indies team. It is unfortunate that like our local divisive politics here in St Vincent and the Grenadines many inputs to the discourse on Gayle are coloured by the particular blinkers of interest representation.
Objective analysis reveals that the situation of Chris Gayle may well be similar in many ways to that of Desmond Haynes several years ago. Gayle did not willingly seek to dismiss the West Indies team or the West Indies Cricket Board.
One is bothered by the fact that every effort does not always appear to be made to get the very best West Indies team on the field, for one reason or another. This is particularly unfortunate. The fans around the Caribbean are left in the lurch and are yet expected to pay whenever the team is on the field of play in the region.
Actually, in the case of Chris Gayle, putting the partisanship aside the reality is that there is enough blame to share around.
Gayle should be on the field of play.
In an earlier article this Columnist made the point that the WICB may well have found a window of opportunity to grab hold of the West Indies cricket team away from the influence of the older, more professionally seasoned players. That may be so but the reality is that the regional team suffers because of the poor industrial relations between the WICB and WIPA.
Both sides are to be blamed for their respective failures to understand and appreciate the nuances of industrial relations principles and practices in the context of professional sport. This too is unfortunate.
The problem appears to be that the WICB does not take enough time to analyse the world of professional sport around the world. The WICB has never understood the importance of the players nor the importance of having them appropriately catered for at all times. On the other hand the WIPA leadership seems to understand industrial relations as being nothing but confrontational.
There has to be recognition by both sides that they are stakeholders in the same sport and in the same geographical region. The game cannot progress without both of them coming together in our collective best interest.
I tis unfortunate that the critics of the game in our Caribbean region have themselves fallen prey to the curse of taking sides in the dispute. Too many air their views based not on objective analysis or industrial relations principles and practices but instead on their own prejudiced stance that players have not right to negotiate until the team starts winning again. Such a view does not merit consideration regardless of how popular some critics have been able to make them.
CARICOM intervention
For yet another occasion the CARICOM has unfortunately found it their business to activate the nondescript CARICOM Cricket Committee. No one has as yet been able to clearly define what this institution is all about.
CARICOM cannot, after several decades, adhere to its own mandate. It is therefore not possible for anyone to give serious consideration to a CARICOM Cricket Committee.
William ‘Kojah’ Anthony, writing in The Vincentian dated Friday 8 July 2011 appropriately addressed the CARICOM intervention and explained why it may well be a most laughable undertaking.
The CARICOM Heads, to the last man, ludicrously applauded and introduced the decrepit Sunset Legislation that essentially threw Caribbean cricket culture out the window for the Cricket World Cup 2007without so much as a whimper.
Several years ago when the Committee was first established under Keith Mitchell, then Prime Minister of Grenada, the body got nowhere. It remains to this day an institution that has no legal standing in the sport of cricket.
In a recent decision the International Cricket Council (ICC) gave an ultimatum to those Asian countries where the governing bodies for cricket are in the hands of the respective governments that they must become non-governmental in short order. This is consistent with sport across the world.
In the Caribbean however the problem is that the WICB owns nothing. In each country the constituent members of the WICB rely on government to provide all infrastructure and most of the funding for hosting mega events yet desire non-intervention. The governments find this grossly unfair, especially since many of the organisations seem to ignore the fundamentals of accountability and transparency in respect of their finances.
The CARICOM Heads must revisit their raison d’etre and then determine whether sport per se as opposed to cricket should attract their attention relative to that mandate.
The big picture
The WICB seems to be making a concerted effort to bring new players into the team. This is great and the Academy should be the mechanism for blooding the youngsters in this regard.  This may well be a deliberate strategy aimed at loosening the stranglehold of the older players on the team and also the perceived strength of the West Indies Players Association on the latter.
We have however noticed the inconsistency of the youngsters and this signals the fact that they are not yet ready. However, if the efforts at blooding youngsters through the Academy are to be sustainable we must also witness the establishment of smaller local academies throughout the region coordinated by the respective Cricket Boards.
There is little reason for us to believe that the WICVB is in any way genuinely democratic and William Anthony seems to hint at this in his column in last Friday’s edition.
The WICB remains a little fiefdom.
The players have every right to make demands whether or not the team is winning.
Constituent members of the WICB need to do more than merely enjoy the trips around the region and the hors d’ouvres in the VVIP rooms. They must engage professionals at all levels and engage in strategic planning for the development of the game in their respective countries and by extension, across the Caribbean.
West Indians love sport and cricket has a very special place in the region. The WIUCB cannot be allowed to see themselves as the lone custodians of the sport in the Caribbean. All stakeholders must henceforth come forward with pride and declare their interest in the future of the game.