WI Cricket remains at all time low

Were it not for the cars owned by players and officials parked around the arena one would never know that local cricket competitions are currently taking place. The same holds true for regional cricket competitions. There is hardly anyone who seems eager to utilise their time to go to the competition arena to watch the players engage themselves in a game of cricket.
There are those who would suggest that one might well find larger crowds watching women play the game than their male counterparts
The foregoing is what obtains in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Indications are that the same scenario is evident throughout the Caribbean. Crowds are no longer interested in watching local and regional cricket.
Does the current malaise that passes for the state of West Indies cricket bother those in authority in respect of the administration of the game?
Does it bother the regional governments that continue to respond to the call of the cricketing fraternity to provide costly infrastructure in the interest of developing the game even as it plummets to an all-time low?
Even the most cursory analysis of the current despicable situation in respect of regional cricket would compel to respond negatively to both questions asked earlier in this Column. Why then do we allow the current situation to continue on its downward spiral?
T20 World Cup 2010
When a country wins the right to host a major international competition it is the norm for the host to engage in long term planning to guarantee not only the successful conduct of the competition but also that the local team is afforded every opportunity to prepare for excellence in the event. Unfortunately, this did not happen when in 2007 the Wes Indies Cricket Board (WICB) hosted the Cricket World Cup. It did not happen when the same organisation hosted the T20 World Cup three years later, 2010.
The team was not at all well prepared, much to the disappointment of all in the region.
One could hardly understand how it is possible for a host nation with such a rich legacy in the sport find itself so lacking in preparation in so critical a tournament.
Rather interestingly, by way of comparison, many of the same players where involved in the Stanford 2020 competitions and were well prepared. Of course we may recall that there were some players who felt that they were being called upon by the Stanford grouping to engage in too much physical preparation at the time. Their unbelievable laziness was very much in evidence yet they benefitted tremendously from the exercises in which they were engaged.
In the past few years the attitude of our players to intense training has always been very poor. It is even worse where the top players and some of our more experienced players are concerned.
Clearly many of the current players are only now being exposed to playing in English County Cricket at the top level where discipline is insisted upon by the team’s management. This discipline includes commitment to physical exercise.
When one looked at the players on the field today one could not help but be appalled by the lack on physical preparedness for the demands of the T20 World Cup.
Not surprisingly we embarrassed ourselves as a region that once showed ourselves a force in international cricket.
Given the performances we delivered in front of our own home crowds we ought not to have had high expectations of the team in the competition.
WI/South Africa series 2010
South Africa has always shown themselves to be a formidable opponent in any version of the game of cricket. We have not really done well against them since their return to the fold of international cricket. One may readily recall the offhand remark of then captain, Ritchie Richardson when we lost the very first game we played against them on their return. He commented, “It was just a game”.
There has really been no pride shown by our cricketers any way, at least in the recent past.
The approach to the series being played at home against South Africa has not changed in anyway from what obtained before.
Not surprisingly we were slam-dunked in the 20/20 series then slapped with another blighted defeat in the One Day Internationals
The start of the test series showed no real change.
Broader issues
There are several broader issues worth our consideration in terms of the decline that is now so clearly evident in West Indies Cricket.
Social degradation
Caribbean societies have experienced a rapid decline in our traditional value systems. Today’s youths are more favourably disposed to North American values than our own.
We have often heard our social agencies bemoaning the changes that have taken control of the lives of our people today and sadly it is not only the children but many of the parents and teachers who have also fallen prey to the malady.
The value system impacting the lives of today’s West Indian cricketers leaves them ignorant of the proud traditions of the game for the peoples of the region. Many have no idea of their predecessors. In an interview with LIAT’s Zing magazine, Ritchie Richardson made reference to Trinidad and Tobago, pacer, Mervyn Dillon, and the latter’s ignorance in this regard. Richardson was making the point that today’s cricketers representing the region pay little or no attention to what went before. They seem to care only about themselves and even that is not done very well.
Love for the game
In the same LIAT magazine both Viv Richards and Richardson expressed their respective joy in playing the game at the highest level. They looked forward to serving the region to the best of their abilities and were proud of their contributions to the development of the sport.
Unfortunately, it seems more appropriate to speak of our current crop of players as being involved more for the love of money than of the game.
In the past our players could have been relied upon to give their all each time they went out to play.
Lance Gibbs often bowled his leg spin until his fingers bled, so committed he was to the team and the peoples of the Caribbean. He took Sobers to task for the so-called sporting declaration against England in Port of Spain when the latter knew that Hall was injured and there was no genuine fast bowler to open the innings, such was the level of seriousness he brought with him to the game.
We treasured the innings by Deryck Murray and Andy Roberts that saw us through to the finals of the first Cricket World Cup, the finest of examples of commitment in a single match in One Day Internationals. The entire Caribbean stayed tuned to their innings and appreciated every moment of it.
Holding and some of the other bowlers worked their way into batting in order to shore up the innings on many an occasion.
Malcolm Marshall became an outstanding all-rounder in the game blending commitment with ability. He was of course one of the best-ever exponents of how to think as a bowler.
There was always a strong sense of commitment amongst the players in the past, something that is hardly ever visible in the teams today. The body language of the players on the field speaks volumes of their lack of commitment to the team and the sport.
We have heard much said about the players being professionals. There is nonetheless a significant difference between professionalism and being a professional. A professional is one who is paid for plying his trade. Professionalism refers to a way of life on the part of the athlete. He/she is expected to conduct him/herself in a particular manner that serves as an example to others.
Professionalism relates to one’s approach top training and competition. It relates to one’s level of discipline on and off the field of play, one’s attitude to the rest of the team, respect for each other and love of the game. It allows for respect for the rules of the game and respecting the decisions of the officials even when they go against the player.
Professionalism allows the team to be placed above self.
Close examination of the current West Indies team does not allow one to feel confident that there is any level of professionalism brought to bear by the vast majority of players.
Professionalism can always be spotted in a player from the very moment he/she enters the arena, whether for training or competition. There is a certain way in which the athlete carries him/herself. This is a rarity within the current West Indies team.\There are those who would readily argue that there seems to be little professionalism displayed at any level of West Indies cricket, inclusive of the Board that runs the sport in the region. In this light therefore one ought not to be expectant that the players would be in any way different.
West Indies cricket suffers from a lack of leadership. This is the case at every level. The West Indies Cricket Board is a very poor example of what passes for leadership in other parts of the world. We cannot accept that this is the West Indian way of doing things. We must not condone nonsense and that is what we are seeing before us at every turn.
What we have for leadership at the WICB is really an outmoded lot, fossilised in a time warp that brings nothing of significance to the table in the contemporary period.
The team can find no real leadership in the current captain. From the moment Gayle raised objection to the curfew imposed by then manager Michael Findlay on the tour of England he should have been stripped of the captaincy. The weak-kneed WICB allow him to stay on and in the tradition of past captains, build a cadre of support amongst the players around him. This is the reason he can at one and the same time pronounce on his preference on his preference for the shorter version of the game yet be retained as the captain in test matches in which the West Indies is involved.
West Indies cricket has no real future given the current structure and attitudes which combine to ensure a persistent decline in the fortunes of the team at home and abroad.