West Indies Cricket – a global embarrassment
Totally ashamed and visibly embarrassed the Caribbean political leaders sitting in CARICOM have felt in incumbent upon them to salvage something in West Indies Cricket. This has come in the wake of the failed attempt at mediation by Shridath Ramphal.
It does appear that the leadership of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) lacks any sense of shame at the state of the game in the region and what it has done to the image of the region at the global level. It also does not appear that the WICB’s leadership even cares what happens to the game.
State of the game
The game of cricket in the West Indies has sunk to an all-time low. Despite the WICB’s recent pronouncements of the commencement of a Cricket Academy next month no one can feel any joy. Caribbean people who are enthusiastic about cricket are embarrassed to the hilt and simply cannot fathom how it is that as a people we could ever have allowed this treasured sport to get to this stage.
Over the past several years we have witnessed the WICB tottering on the edge financially. We were once told that the hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 would have assured a significant boosting of the coffers of the WICB and that this would assure development for some years to come. The reality is that the CWC2007 did not prove a financial success for the WICB. This may well have impacted the entire administration of the sport in the region.
A once heavy reliance on one-time Texas Billionaire, Allen Stanford, saw him somehow inexplicably drafted into what appears to be a sort of ‘inner sanctum’ of the WICB.
Stanford never seemed to be particularly keen on knowing the sport of cricket beyond what it appeared capable for doing for him.
The years of the 20/20 Tournament that Stanford hosted did more for the so-called ‘Legends’ and some of the players than for the sport generally in the Caribbean. The WIOCB appeared not to have taken the time to engage in any real analysis of what was happening before their eyes. It may well be that they became caught up in seeing the impressive display of cash on the part of Stanford than the requirements of the development of the game and how to go about dealing with them.
With Stanford out of the picture the WICB remains the same old ‘beat up’ organisation that Sparrow sang about when the better players left the WICBC at the time and took residence under the more secure financial shelter of Kerry Packer.
Perhaps the WICB learnt from that experience and may well have considered its courting of Stanford an opportunity to ensure that it too benefitted from the same shelter as the players and the so-called Legends.
To this day the WICB has never really explained how it was that it allowed something like a Hall of Fame for West Indies Cricket to have ended up in the hands of Stanford and located in his own appropriately named, Sticky Wicket. Now that Stanford is on his own ‘sticky wicket’ the WICB and all of the so-called Legends have remained quite silent on the project.
The WICB seemingly does not know what to do and this is reflective of the state of the game in the region. There is no leadership.
The WICB would be quite embarrassed to try to maintain a Hall of Fame that was essentially Stanford’s own and not that of the governing body for the sport. On the other hand the WICB would also look rather silly now if it attempts to start its own Hall of Fame given its impoverished coffers.
Australia’s John Dyson, was appointed coach of the West Indies team following the departure of Bennett King. Dyson lost his job following the humiliating defeat of an embarrassment that was allowed to carry the name, West Indies Cricket Team, against Bangladesh.
It appears that the WICB did not examine the team selected. Had they done so they would readily have recognised that it reflected the state of the sport in the region; that there is no depth in the game in the Caribbean.
There are those who have suggested that perhaps had the WICB selected its best team they would probably have had the same result in the series against Bangladesh. That may well be true but luckily it was not the case.
Dyson has now revealed the seeming lack of professionalism of the WICB. Precisely why he did not make this disclosure while coaching the team remains surprising. He noted that for the 19 months he served the WICB in the capacity of team coach he did not have a signed contract with the Board.
According to Dyson he refused to sign the first contract that the WICB placed before him because it did not have his name as the coach but rather, that of the former coach, Bennett King. If this is true, and as yet it has not been refuted by the WICB, then we must be forced to admit that the WICB is operating on auto pilot. There is no one at the helm and the ship that is West Indies cricket is in open water.
In an interview with Cricinfo, Dyson stated that he had three points in the contract that he wanted addressed. The WICB, according to him, took a rather inordinate amount of time to get back to him on the first point and never returned to him on the others. Here again, if this is true and it has not yet been refuted by the WICB, then we ought not to be surprised by the reality that WIPA has won every case with the WICB that has reached arbitration.
The unceremonious departure of Dyson has meant that the West Indies team is now in the hands of new coaches and this as they go into the ICC Champions Trophy Tournament in South Africa.
The West Indies Cricket Board has sent a team to the ICC Champions Trophy without the best players in the region. Already the absence of anything but the best team has drawn criticisms from far and wide.
There are some connoisseurs of the sport who believe that what the WICB is doing by sending a third rate team to such an important international competition is an embarrassment.
In today’s world cricket is struggling to keep its head above water in the fight for television rights among international sports. For the ICC not to be able to guarantee television that its competitions would attract the very best players in the world there is every likelihood that it stands to lose its appeal and consequently witness a significant depletion of its coffers.
Tim May, the chief executive officer of the Federation of International Cricket Associations has been quoted as saying that he believes the failure of the WICB to send its very best team to the ICC Champions Trophy is really tantamount to a devaluation of the competition.
May went further to suggest that the weakened West Indies team does not only hurt West Indies cricket but the entire cricketing community involve din the ICC Champions Trophy competition.
In an interview with the Age newspaper in Australia May stated , “I would suggest that the West Indies’ insistence on picking a third-rate side devalues that tournament and that pain is going to be shared by the rest of the cricketing nations.”
May is also concerned about the likely impact of the WICB sending a depleted team to the pending series against Australia down under. Australians are astute cricket fans. It is the norm for the Australians to be so enthusiastic about the game of cricket that they tend to purchase crickets well in advance of the commencement of any series against worthy opponents. It is hardly likely that anyone, especially Australia, would consider the current West Indies team in South Africa for the ICC Champions Trophy worthy opponents.
In the recent past we have heard from Shridath Ramphal that the mediation process was brought to an abrupt end because one of the parties brought something new to the table.
For his part, Guyanese President, Bharat Jagdeo, the man who in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, called on Ramphal to serve as mediator, seemingly felt hurt by the collapse of the mediation process. He made some public comments that immediately drew a response from WICB President, Julian Hunte. But Jagdeo has stood by his remarks.
We have been told that the two sides involve din the dispute, WIPA and the WICB would now go before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to have the matter decided upon.
It remains a most embarrassing experience for both Jagdeo and Ramphal that the parties to the conflict could not have brought a resolution with their intervention.
The WICB does not seem to feel the embarrassment.
Given the downward slide of the West Indies cricket team over the past several years the decision to play the heavily depleted group of players may well mean that we find ourselves at the lowest rung of the ladder on the ICC rankings of test playing nations. This has implications fro the future of the game in the region. Some higher ranking teams would not find it a lucrative undertaking to play matches against the West Indies in their respective countries. Already the gate receipts in the Caribbean are nothing to shout about compared to Australia, England and India.
The recent tour by Bangladesh revealed the extent to which cricket enthusiasts in the Caribbean were not prepared to allow the WICB be the beneficiary of their attendance