The embarrassment that is West Indies Cricket continues to tread headlong without any sort of shame among the leadership of the region’s governing body, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Just when we thought that it was not possible for regional cricket to be further embarrassed we set another record of sorts in Antigua and Barbuda.
While some may be willing to accept this latest embarrassment as the responsibility of the Antigua and Barbuda cricketing authorities this columnist is adamant that it is ultimately a reflection of the paucity of leadership in the Caribbean and that the West Indies Cricket Board should resign en masse.
In the 1997/8 English cricket tour of the Caribbean there was an incident at the Sabina Park in Jamaica that led to the first ever cancelled test match in the Caribbean, which at the time was seen as a major embarrassment to the cricket bosses and the peoples of the entire region.
The Sabina Park cricket wicket was unbelievably poor. The game was called off due to the hopeless preparation of the cricket pitch.
The reality was that on the day before the start of the aforementioned test match there were people at the Sabina ground who thought to themselves that there was something that did not look right in respect of the preparations of the pitch. Indeed, one commentator reported that he saw a cricket ball hit by someone engaged in the warm up exercises. The ball fell on the pitch and did not move thereafter. In other words the ball was stuck in whatever was used to prepare the pitch.
Of course what transpired on the following day, the first day of the test, is now cruel history. The number of newspaper articles written on that fateful occasion told an embarrassing tale of the incompetence that is West Indies cricket.
Here is how one journalist, Martin Williamson (13th February 2009) remembers the test match fiasco:
Few Tests have been shorter, but none have brought so much opprobrium onto officials and administrators as the opening match of the 1997-98 series between West Indies and England at Sabina Park. After little more than an hour, during which time England’s physio had been on the field six times to tend to batsmen, the umpires took the unprecedented step of abandoning the match after consulting with the captains.
Williamson noted further:
When the England squad and accompanying media took their first look at the new pitch they were appalled. "It would appear [the pitch] was replaced by a cowboy gang of tarmac layers of the sort who will skim your drive with a quarter inch of blackstuff in return for ready money," wrote Mike Selvey in the Guardian on the eve of the match.” They seem to have put down a thin veneer of clay straight on top of a deliciously verdant outfield. The teams can expect uneven bounce from the start… and if it has any pace it could get nasty."
Well, it did get nasty, as Williamson reminds us:
On the first morning Atherton ambled out to the middle early on as Joseph and his staff were putting the finishing touches to their preparations. He looked on in disbelief as a piece of string was laid from one set of stumps to the other, to check the alignment. "The string touched the ground in parts, but there was a three-inch gap elsewhere," he later recalled. "It merely confirmed the undulations that were obvious to the naked eye."
To this day the WICB has really not offered an explanation for the colossal embarrassment at Sabina. Instead, the WICB went about its business as usual, haughty and without accountability to anyone but itself.
In a more civilised society the entire Board would have had to resign. Not in the Caribbean. Here anything goes and the WICB is one of the worst examples of the trite that passes for leadership.