West Indies Cricket lives up to expectations

105362In the lead up to the recently concluded T20 World Cup the region’s cricket enthusiasts were eager to have the West Indies cricket team do well, especially since they were the defending champions.
By the end of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh West Indian cricket fans were left as disappointed as ever with the team bowing out to the eventual winners, Sri Lanka, under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Perhaps most interestingly, the region’s cricket fans were consoling themselves by suggesting that had the match not been reduced as it was by the intervention of the weather, the West Indies team would have won. Why? Because they were doing well coming from behind in the earlier matches played. Such is the commitment of the West Indian cricket fans.
In many respects Caribbean cricket fans are caught in a bind. They so badly want to see the regional team do well at the international level yet they are also aware that the players do not care about them and their desires and expectaions.
Pre T20 World Cup
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) remains much the same despite the changes that have been made at the leadership level. It is perhaps the main reason why the current bosses of the regional game readily surrendered to the ICC’s latest proposal to have a tiered system that places teams on different rungs based on performance. The real issue despite all of the fanciful talk is money. The WICB seems to think that the answer to all of its current problems in greater cash inflows and the proposed new structure would do just that.
It is interesting too that there was no attempt to engage in a much wider discussion on the pros and cons of the proposed changes. But that is to be expected of such a moribund organisation.
In the period leading up to the T20 World Cup the regional version of the game saw another putrid series. There was no reason for anyone in the Caribbean to be enthusiastic about the chances of a West Indies emerging from the regional competition in the T20 World Cup.
Too many of our better players absent themselves, for a variety of reasons, from the regional competitions.
Where one would have expected that our better players would want to have our Caribbean people see them compete against each other so that the very best would be duly appreciated, we are expected to wait for them to be playing elsewhere and perhaps for some team where the monies are significantly more, to get the best out of them.
The cricket fans in the Caribbean are only too aware of the poor standard of the game at the regional level that they pay little attention to the regional T20 competition. In stark contrast however, as we saw last year, tickets for the new franchised competition in the very same Caribbean were readily sold out because fans are well aware that a different and highly competitive scenario would prevail.
The players who compose the West Indies cricket team do not respect Caribbean fans.
The interest of our players does not lie in delivering a consistent quality o cricket for the Caribbean masses. Instead the interest seems to lie squarely in the rewards that can be garnered in mayor competitions spread across the globe.
Like so many of our youths today the players on the West Indies cricket team appear to be moving in the direction of a lost generation.
Rather interestingly, the Caribbean media seem much like their international counterparts. Rather than engage in consistent analyses applying their critical thinking skills, they simply adopt a myopic stance that leaves them blindly loyal. In the process they add to the frustration of Caribbean cricket fans.
In the period leading up to the T20 World Cup it was common to read or hear quotations from the team’s coach, the captain and some of the leading players about the chances of the defending champions. However, if one were to compare what the aforementioned were saying about our team’s chances in the T20 World Cup and their general preparation for the competition we would not have been taken in.
Caribbean cricket enthusiasts must by now have come to the conclusion that coach Otis Gibson, does not know what he can expect from his players at any given time in any form of the game. He may do well to still his tongue since the players now appear all committed to doing their own thing rather than pull together in their collective best interest.
One player after another kept talking and it may well be that they all spoke too much without giving due consideration to their preparedness, commitment and performances.
Some of those who spoke seemingly failed to engage brain before allowing moth to run wild.
The World Cup
Swashbucklers! Calypso Cricketers!
The foregoing terms could readily be applied to the West Indies cricket team that contested the T20 World Cup.
For the most part the swashbucklers on the team were expected to click long and consistent enough to bring home the trophy.
Few were willing to refer to the lack of adequate preparation.
Even in the warm up matches one recognised the inconsistency in the team’s performance yet ever faithful the Caribbean fans remained loyal expecting victory.
The West Indies cricket team that participated in the T20 World Cup recently were definitely not together. The body language of some of the players spoke to this.
There is no Lara on the team today on whom to lay blame for discord but the team is definitely not together and the management seems incapable of bridging the divide.
Some of the players displayed the same recalcitrance to which we have grown accustomed. Some were well below par in terms of their preparations and the coach was seemingly hapless as much as he was helpless.
Rudy Webster and others have lamented the absence of any real understanding of the psychological needs of the several players on the team. We brought together a motley group of individuals each with his own interpretation of what he is doing there.
There seemed no harmony in the team in Bangladesh.
The opposing teams were not afraid of the big names on the West Indies team. They too have come to realise that the big names perform better in the Indian Premier league where the prize monies are significantly higher.
Close examination of the performance of the West Indies team in the T20 World Cup would reveal much by the way of luck.
The two best teams ended up in the finals, not by chance but by dint of their preparation in all aspects of the game.
The level of commitment and determination seen in the Indian and Sri Lankan players told the story of just how ready they were to compete and eager to win. The same cannot be said of the players on the West Indies cricket team.
Rather interestingly, the Caribbean fans sought solace in the semi final game against Sri Lanka in the wishful thought that had the weather not intervened we would have easily won. This view of course ignores the penchant shown by the Sri Lankans throughout the competition.
One has only to reflect on the last five overs that the Sri Lankans bowled to the Indians in the final match to understand their inner hunger for victory in the competition. Captain Malinga led with perhaps most consistent spell of fast bowling at this version of the game in the past several years.
The West Indies cricket team never really clicked in the competition in a manner expected. Too often the team had to await the arrival of Darren Sammy to the crease. That was certainly not good enough to impress anyone.
Once more Caribbean cricket fans had to pull their tails between their legs in shame.
Once more the West Indies cricket team had failed.
The future
It may well be that the West Indies cricket team suffers from the fact that the players are from different countries rather that from a single one so there are significantly torn loyalties even as there are different cultural variables at work within the institution.
Not enough sport psychological work is being done with the players to facilitate the harmony required and which we have often cited as an example for the rest of the region.
The West Indies cricket team is not a reflection of Caribbean unity as was once thought. Instead it is a true reflection of the confused state and lack of definition of us as a people in a troubled region.
The disparate interests of the players on the West Indies cricket team are an accurate reflection of the insularity that characterises the political leadership of the Caribbean today. While at CARICOM they sit and pat each other on the back individually they seek out their own insular interests almost always at the exclusion of the broader regional interests.
The West Indies cricket team is no longer the embodiment of the aspirations of the peoples of the Caribbean as was once thought by the likes of CLR James and others.
Today it seems that our regional academics are forcing a fit between what James and others saw in West Indies cricket and what once was in the approach of the team to the game.
There is no Frank Worrell at the helm with a vision and a commitment to regionalism. Instead we have returned to the worst-case scenario reminiscent of the approach taken by Weekes and his Barbadian colleagues in deliberately colluding to have Wes Hall make the team to England ahead of our own Frank Mason some years aback.
We have not progressed.
There is a sense in which the better Caribbean cricketers seem to have no appreciation whatsoever for the high esteem in which successive generations of Caribbean cricket fans desire to hold them.
Indeed West Indies cricket today is about the money to be made.
Professionalism is of no importance, neither at the level of the WICB nor at the level of the players on the West Indies cricket team, and the Caribbean fans are finally waking up to the change in this regard.