West Indies continue foolishness

anderson_bowledThere never seems to be a dull moment for West Indies cricket. Every time that things appear as though they are getting better they somehow take a turn for the worst.
In the recent past we have had the 20/20 debacle which led to the legal action with sponsors, Digicel. We have also had the embarrassment of the dismissal of Tony Deyal. There was the dismissal then reinstatement then ‘resignation’ of Donald Peters.
Then we beat up on England in the Test series before and the 20/20 before losing in the One Day tournament all in the Caribbean.
This week’s Column focuses attention on the West Indies tour to England and the embarrassment that we are all facing once more because of what can only be described as the ongoing lack of professionalism of the West Indies Cricket Board – WICB.
The England tour
Anyone looking on at the current test series taking place in England would have been agonisingly sympathetic with the West Indian players as they all appeared to have found the weather all too uncomfortable. Perhaps it is a case of it being spring and the English weather may well still be too cold for the boys from the Caribbean.
How did we end up in this mess anyway?
Is it about money?
Are we so financially weak that we had to accept this particular competition?
Surely the West Indies Cricket Board would have to shoulder the responsibility and all by itself. 
As far as the players were concerned there were no tours scheduled at this time and therefore they must have thought that it was their own time following the English tour of the Caribbean. They must have seen themselves free to do as they please.
No one can as yet fathom the rational of the WICB in agreeing to this hastily prepared tour of England in what may well be a most cruel time of the year for our players.
In the meantime, the players have had a very difficult time adjusting to English conditions. Performances thus far have all been well below par. Even the reliable Chanderpaul found immense difficulty in the first test match, in both innings returning to the pavilion with low scores under his belt. 
The situation on tour is such that thus far the more experienced players have fared no better than the newcomers. In the second innings of the first test only Brendan Nash and Denesh Ramdhin put up any real resistance to the English bowlers.
Where once we thought that in the absence of the stalwart English  bowlers we would have had an easy first test we surrendered to the new bowlers England brought into the fray.
The Bravo factor
One is not at all sure what is the status of Dwayne Bravo in so far as West Indies Cricket is concerned.
Bravo was declared injured some time ago. He missed the first part of the English tour of the Caribbean, ostensibly because he was not fully fit.
The presence of Bravo in newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago seemingly associated with activities other than cricket may well have allowed some of the region’s cricket biffs to ponder on just what was required of the young man by way of recovery from his injury.
Suddenly, we learnt of Bravo playing One Day cricket for his club in Trinidad and performing well with the bat, scoring at least one century.
As if possessive of some sort of mortgage with the WICB, we suddenly saw Bravo, who was out of competitive cricket for several months, recalled to the West Indies team.
While Bravo played well, once selected to represent us in the shorter version of the game during the English tour of the region, his selection may well be cause for concern in so far as the selection process is concerned.
It has always been the case that team selection for the West Indies team is a hotbed of confusion and controversy. Cricket enthusiasts in the Caribbean can never really claim to have a fix on the selection process. Regardless of who the selectors are there always seem to be controversy.
But the case of Bravo does not merely end with the selection to the shorter version of the game during the English tour of the Caribbean.
Bravo was not among the players selected to tour England for the current series and many an enthusiast wondered why.  Given the way in which Bravo performed during the latter part of the English tour to the Caribbean one would have thought that he was fully recovered. If that were not the case then he is a remarkable player to have performed at such a level of excellence while not being fully fit.
Now we are hearing that Bravo may not have been fit for the longer version of the game – test matches. He seems well enough for the heavy, heady dynamism of the shorter version of the game but not for the rigours of test match cricket.
One wonders why anyone would expect West Indian cricketing enthusiasts to accept this type of rubbish.
Bravo was therefore allowed leave to play in the Indian Premier League, one of the most lucrative competitions the game has ever seen, second only to the Stanford examples.
Nothing that the West Indies Cricket Board can say about the Bravo situation could find acceptance among the sporting peoples of the region.
There may well be a case of money being in control given some of the remarks attributed to Bravo in a Trinidad newspaper some time ago. In that document Bravo was harshly critical of the WICB, including what he thought was a sort of insensitivity to the players. He was upset at the fact that players who got injured had to look after themselves.
Bravo may well have been looking after himself in his pursuance of his contract with the IPL.
In the end it does appear that Bravo is in receipt of some special consideration not necessarily available to the other players on the West Indies team.
The IPL, Gayle et al
The West Indies tour of England came at the same time that the Indian Premier league was starting. This was always going to be problematic for those players who had contracts with the bosses of the latter competition. There could have been no surprise therefore that some players would be upset of they were not allowed to honour their contracts and perhaps lose out on some more money. Even without the money considerations the WICB would probably have found itself in the bad books of the players anyway since they may have felt that enough consideration was not being given to them and their personal and professional plans.
Gayle is nonetheless the captain of the West Indies team. One wonders therefore why would the authorities not pay enough attention to the impact of his absence on the team. Clearly, the West Indies team would have been on a high, despite losing the One Day series in the final game of the English tour of the Caribbean. They would have certainly felt confident that they could defeat England wherever they meet in the future. However, it would necessitate the retention of the entire team so that the bonding and commitment could be considerably engendered.
One wonders what the WICB could have been thinking by committing to a tour of England knowing that the team’s captain would not have been part of the team for the entire period that the team would have been in the country.
Ever since Clive Lloyd was attributed with having said that Gayle was ready for the captaincy and it was thrust upon him, the region has rallied behind the young man. Journalists have endorsed him and claimed that he has been able to mould his players into a team imbued with a new spirit that suggests a climb out of the rot of the previous years is imminent.
The absence of Gayle in England with the rest of the team therefore could not have been in the best interest of the unit.
To add insult the team was later greeted with the news that Gayle requested an extension of his stay at the IPL and this was duly approved. This latter decision was probably taken by the WICB but under whose advice?
The coach of the team, Dyson, seemed to have been concerned about the decision to extend Gayle’s absence from the team. He was clearly unhappy while admitting that he accepted the decision. He really did not have a choice, It was either acceptance or resignation.
Arriving so close to the start of the first test could not have been in anyone’s best interest, certainly not the team’s. The coach must have cringed at the prospect of Gayle’s late arrival and tried to place a good face to the rest of the team.
A Cricinfo article dated 13th May 2009 indicated that West Indies captain Chris Gayle has said that he doesn’t want to captain West Indies for much longer because of the pressure the job entailed.
Gayle is also quoted as saying “I wouldn’t be so sad” if Test cricket eventually gave way to the Twenty20 version and hit back at Andrew Strauss, who had criticised the West Indies captain for arriving from the IPL just two days before the start of the Lord’s Test, asking the England captain to “stay out of [other] people’s business”.
Gayle said, “To be honest with you there’s a possibility I might give it [captaincy] up – I will be giving it up shortly.”
Nothing about Gayle’s comments should surprise us. It seems the way of the peoples of the Caribbean. Not many seem able to cope with their own talents and too many get swell-headed as soon as they access some financial resources from their God-given talents.
WICB madness
The WICB is a moribund organisation woefully deficient in leadership. One Board after another has failed consistently to effect meaningful change.
One wonders what was in all of this for the Board. Did the Board have an agreement with the IPL?
Did the Board have an agreement with WIPA regarding the players contracted to the IPL?
Why did the Board so readily grasp the opportunity to tour England at this time of the year, sandwiched as it is between the English tour of the Caribbean and the visit of the Bangladesh team.
The WICB does not appear sufficiently interested in mending its ways. It is consistent in decidedly poor decision making and its performance leaves a blight on the team itself.
We ought not to be surprised therefore that the WICB remains mired in a financial malaise from which it seems impossible to extricate itself.