WI Cricket and the Big Mack Truck

West Indies cricket offers no shortage of comic relief even as many enthusiasts so often come close to serious hear conditions precipitated by the team’s capacity to snatch defeat from the claws of victory.
This year we have had the Pakistan team followed by the Indians playing in the Caribbean. The sporting enthusiasts have remained faithful but even so they must now be questioning themselves and wondering whether the players and the administrators of the sport care.

There are few in the Caribbean who would disagree that Pakistan sent to the regional encounter a team that is well below the best that it could assemble. In many respects it appears that the Pakistan Cricket Board opted to send us a team that they thought could do well with the practice.
Close examination of the Pakistan team revealed a team that was perhaps considered at the level of the West Indies.
It seems that the Pakistanis have little confidence in the West Indies cricket fraternity and may well have been humouring us with the team that was sent to the region.
Guyana, always anxious for cricket of an international stature proved to be the only country where the masses turned out as has been the norm for decades. Everywhere else the patrons realised the paucity of the competitors and stayed at home.
The commentators tried as best they could to generate some measure of excitement but even they had to surrender to the reality of the very poor competition that took place out in the middle.
The fact that the West Indies won the T20 and drew the test series there was little interest generated across the region.
Were it not for television rights the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) would be crying foul as the leadership lie prostrate before the region’s financial institutions.
The Indians were the next to arrive in the Caribbean for a series here. Like the Pakistanis before one is at a loss to determine any reason for this collection of individuals than to get practice for some of the lesser players on the sub cTontinent.
On yet another occasion a major international cricket country may just have been fulfilling a commitment to the International Cricket Council (ICC) to play a series against the West Indies.
The Indians easily won the T20 competition then took the first three One Day Internationals (ODI) to cop that series as well.
The Vivian Richards Stadium remains one of the many white elephant legacies of the Cricket World Cup 2007 that debacle that the region had the misfortune of hosting, selling ourselves short in almost every department. The two ODI encounters there failed to attract spectators enough to fill a single pavilion, much the same trend as the matches in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Antigua and Barbuda experience is all the more disturbing when one recalls the fact that the double teaming of Chickie’s Hi Fi and the incomparable Gravy were the ones to place the country on the world cricket stage as hosts of the game in the most festive atmosphere. This was where entertainment became integrated into the sport around the world. Over the Whitsuntide weekend the commentators could do no more than lament the absence of spectators in the same Antigua and Barbuda.
For yet another occasion the WICB would have to be grateful for the income from the same of television rights. Gate receipts remain putrid.
Gayle at al
There are those in the region who have been only too anxious to argue that Dinanath Ramnarine, the president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) thrives on controversy. That may well be the case but the WICB seems equally guilty of this.
In an earlier article reference was drawn to an interview with the Chief Executive Officer of the WICB. From our vantage point he was clearly attempting to send a message to some of the more established players on the West Indies team and we stated as much in this Column.
Shortly thereafter elder statesman of the West Indies team, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, seeming of the view that he was one of those targeted by the WICB, responded in the media. The Guyanese lefthander was not know to being given to this kind of action and it certainly surprised many. The main point here however is that Chanders thought that the Board was unfairly treating him.
Then there was the matter of Chris Gayle.
Gayle was injured and like Bravo and several others before him the WICB seemed not to be prepared to bear any responsibility or the costs related to their recuperation. Gayle’s view in an interview was that no one ever checked up on him and he was unfairly treated. Now the Board seems to be exposing itself in its media responses on the Chris Gayle situation.
One of the problems currently impacting the sport in the region is that many supporters are so incensed with the poor performance of the players that they vent their anger on them. They are not prepared to objectively analyse the situation. The players are wrong simply because in the absence of consistent victories they do not deserve to be asking for anything. Their rights have suddenly disappeared.
But the Board appears to relishing the moment. Aware that the fans are apathetic enough to separate themselves from the players of the region and may well be seeing this as an opportunity.
New approach by WICB
There may well be reason to believe that the future of the sport of cricket in the Caribbean is being orchestrated under the current dispensation with a St Lucian triumvirate – the president, the CEO and the captain.
The leadership of the WICB may well be seeing an opportunity to create a new approach where the older players who have been deemed too close to WIPA are marginalised out of the decision-making process on the one hand and gradually removed from the team.
The WICB may well be seeing itself as seizing an opportunity to retake control of the sport from the players who have had it in their hands since the group returned from the Kerry Packer contract.
Perusal of the mode of operation of the Board suggests that there is nothing innovative in what they are doing to develop the sport and perhaps that is the reason no development has taken place.
What we have before us is one layer after another of mediocre players. There are no stars.
The failure of the team in the third ODI in Antigua was remarkable but expected. The sense of pride does not seem to be something familiar to the players on the team.
The same old emphasis in on the gold chain and the bling rather than on being conscious of representing the peoples of the region remains among the most characteristic features of our players.
The WICB is yet to determine precisely what is the relationship it wishes to have with the University of the West Indies rather than the other way around. While no one would wish to ignore the work of Hilary Beckles in respect of establishing a Department on West Indies Cricket at what now appears to be his Campus and create something of a Cricket Hall of Fame, the WICB does not seem to have a grip on things relative to the developmental pathway.
In much the same way that the WICB latched on to Allen Stanford, or was it his money, the new dispensations appears to bring with it a latching on to Hilary Beckles at the Cave Hill Campus.
Jeffrey Dujon has recently found it necessary to pen a piece that responded appropriately to some seemingly unfortunate comments made by the erstwhile professor.
The Cricket Academy is off and running but with what specific sustainable focus is unclear.
The Combined Campuses and Colleges seem not to be blooding new players but instead appears to be a mechanism for the retention of others.
The future of cricket in the Caribbean remains very uncertain and not because of a lack of interest. The problem now appears to be that, as has perhaps always been the case, those at the helm remain convinced that they are doing well and can pat themselves son the back. In reality they are marking time and the loss of revenue announced in the recent past is an indication that much remains wrong even if they do not wish to admit it.
Even as we watch the continuing demise of West Indies cricket Vincentians wonder what has happened after the millions that were supposed to have been spent on the improvement to Arnos Vale.
For all the monies expended we seem to have fallen off the radar in respect of hosting matches of some quality.
The local cricket bosses remain decidedly mum on why we are not being considered as favourably as was the case when we did not engage in such a heavy investment.
Perhaps we have lost our way in terms of the respect that the WICB has for us. It may well be that the local bosses need to review their appreciation for the WICB and their integration in the decision making process.
Whatever happens however local cricketing enthusiasts have long since attained a level of frustration for the sport that has permeated their attitude towards the regional game.