West Indies cricketing fracas
There is never a dull moment in West Indies cricket these days. Followers of the game and of the West Indies in particular can expect something ridiculous to emerge from our neck of the woods on almost any given day.
Caribbean politicians have somehow suddenly determined that they should get involved in West Indies cricket. Those who are at the forefront of this move are really only doing so because they are still somehow caught up in the days when cricket was played as a means of social and political liberation.
But Caribbean politicians have helped to make cricket in the region the mess that it currently is.
CARICOM Sports Desk
It was the Caribbean political leaders who, at CARICOM, at the end of Gary Sobers’ career, agreed to create the CARICOM Sports Desk, with the sole intention of employing the illustrious cricketer. It did not matter whether or not Sobers was in any way qualified to do what the job required. What seemed most important was that the leaders at the time felt a sense of responsibility for the world’s best cricketing alrounder whose career had come to an end and who may well have been on the brink of poverty, given his lifestyle.
Of course Sobers was incapable of meeting the requirements of the job. He was not prepared for the job and proved himself thoroughly incompetent, lout of his depth.
CARICOM employed one person after the departure of Sobers at the Sports Desk before closing the position and placing sport, ostensibly, under its Council for Social and Human Development (COHSOD).
Despite CARICOM’s best intentions there has been little evidence of any commitment on the part of the organisation and its leaders to genuinely develop physical education and sport across the region. Indeed CARICOM is really the region’s most high profile talk shop.
CARICOM stood idly by and never once considered football an area of concern for the development of the region and the potential it holds, far more than cricket, to facilitate regional integration.
CARICOM should hang its head in shame as the names continue to be called regarding key regional personnel’s involvement in the FIFA international scandal.
Athletics has, more than any other sport, placed the region firmly on the global stage yet CARICOM has failed to even take a second look at its immense potential to bring our people together.
Clearly CARICOM is itself uncertain as to its reason for remaining in existence and should perhaps follow the recommendations of the CARICOM Cricket Governance Committee and fold up as currently exists to make way for a new structure.
CARICOM Cricket Governance Committee
While the CARICOM’s official position was that sport fell under COHSOD the erstwhile leaders, obviously embarrassed by the non-performance of the West Indies Cricket team, established a CARICOM Cricket Governance Committee.
The focus that the region’s leaders claim to place on cricket and the fortunes of the regional cricket team is itself something of an anachronism given the role that athletics and football played in according the region remarkable international recognition and status. But this should come as no surprise given the lack lustre performance of CARICOM re the development of the Caribbean nations that comprise it.
The most recent work of the Governance Committee was the establishment of a governance review committee headed by Eunice Barriteau, that recommended, among other things, the dissolution of the WICB as currently constituted, the placement of an Interim Committee and a change manager, and the replacement over time by a newly structured WICB, emphasising professional personnel over territorial representation.
While the review of the existing governance structure and state of the game was extensive, it was nonetheless short on an understanding of the dynamics of international sport beyond the narrow confines of cricket. Still, the recommendations are significant and the WICB may do well to pay attention to them.
Studying the recommendations could only lead the WICB to engage in a broader strategic review of its operations, which admittedly, are decidedly archaic, and begin the process of effecting meaningful, modern change.
CARICOM Heads cannot enforce change within the WICB. That understood, it is incumbent on the latter to respectfully engage in some measure of discourse with the CARICOM Heads relative to the way in which the sport can be effective in facilitating regionalism, a focus that has long since been lost.
West Indies team
The current tour of Australia is something of a cricketing nightmare for the West Indies cricket team and all West Indians who have been inextricably linked to the cause of the sport in the Caribbean as a force for genuine liberation of our peoples.
The teams’ performance down under is a reflection of the challenges facing the WICB at all levels.
In 200 the West Indies played 14 test matches against Australia, won four and lost seven. Four years later the two teams met for a total of 12 test matches. West Indies won one and lost eight.
In 2005, the teams contest 11 test matches with the West Indies winning only one and Australia, eight,
In 2015, the teams met in test matches on 10 occasions with the Aussies winning eight and the West Indies only one.
The current series has seen Australia winning the first two tests and grab firm hold of the Frank Worrell Trophy ahead of the third and final test. Embarrassingly, the West Indies lost the first test in three days.
In the first innings of the second test four Australians – Khawaja (144), Smith (134), Burns (128) and Voges (106) scored centuries in a total of 551 for three declared. Australia won by 177 runs, having again declared in the second innings. West Indies mustered 271 and 282 respectively.
Weak, ineffective administration at the level of the leadership of the WICB has led to decidedly poor choices in terms of the management of the West Indies cricket team.
Over the years the WICB has been particularly poor in the organisation of administration courses to transport the leaders of the sport at the different countries to the modern era of sport administration and management. There seems to be a belief that it is enough to be elected head of the organisation and all else will happen as a matter of fact. There has been no administrative retooling.
The election of officers at the national level in each of the WICB member countries remains at best a matter of popularity and increasingly of nasty politics of a nature that would make national party politics something childish. There has been no insistence on professionalising the leadership of these national organisations to ensure that they are consistent with modern sport practices. Essentially they have remained in the dark ages, operating in the contemporary period with early colonial strategies.
The WICB leadership emerges from largely unprofessional organisations and seem unable to extricate itself from the decadent culture that has overtaken it. The
The different committees established by the WICB suffer from the same blight. It is difficult, for example, to explain and accept that Clive Lloyd could have been part of what could only be described as something of a rogue ‘national’ organisation in Guyana that the WICB rejected, and still be so readily embraced as the head of the selectors for the sport at the level of the WICB.
Is it that the old boys’ network must still be in vogue at the level of the WICB and the sport of cricket in the region?
The recent decision of the WICB to suspend newly appointed coach, Phil Simmonds, saw the leadership then turn to one of the selectors, Eldine Baptiste, to take on the responsibility of coach of the team in the interim. This is another reflection of the simplistic modus of the WICB.
The decision to appoint 24-year old Jason Holder as the captain of the team may have suggested a significant turnaround for the WICB. In the past the WICB seemed unwilling to give youths a chance ahead of the seasoned players.
Now, when the older players are literally free agents, anxious to be sold to the highest bidder and become the latest generation of sport millionaires, the WICB has turned to the youthful cricketer. What chance does he have of adequately managing the older guard in the team? Is it that the WICB leadership is hopeful that the selectors and the coach will step in to fill the breach wherever and whenever it occurs?
The rest of the cricketing world has been running ahead with all sorts of innovations in the sport, inclusive of management and coaching strategies and programmes. Here in the Caribbean we twiddle our thumbs revealing to the world that we have allowed ourselves to move from world-beaters to a redundant grouping of cricketing sycophants who are now beseeching the more advanced countries to help us lift ourselves back to where we once were.