Fri | Apr 28, 2017

Editorial: Cricket’s paradigm of ignorance

Published:Tuesday | June 16, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Australian players celebrate the wicket of West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite who was bowled by spinner Nathan Lyon (second left) on day two of the second Test at Sabina Park.

After the regional team's latest capitulation in a Test match, to Australia at Sabina Park on Sunday, Denesh Ramdin served up the familiar and vapid fare of losing West Indian captains - of lessons supposedly learned, positives to be taken away from the game, and the drawing board to which the players are to return. Thankfully, we were spared the line about 'turning the corner'.

What was notable about Ramdin's response to the two humiliating defeats in the two-Test series was an absence of personal responsibility as captain or remorse for the margin of Australian victory. Nor was there, it seems to us, an appreciation of context or history on the part of Ramdin, his team, or anyone in the management of West Indies cricket in relation to the series generally, or the Sabina Park match, in particular.

It was at Sabina Park, at the start of May in 1995, that Allan Border's team defeated Richie Richardson's men, ending nearly two decades of West Indies Test dominance and two decades of struggles and descent for Caribbean cricket. With the West Indies remaining near the bottom of the ranking of Test-playing nations, the Sabina Park match came close to being the 20th anniversary of the start of that decline and Australia's emergence on a decidedly upward trajectory.

The history and context are important to us. Ignorance of history contributes to the inability, so far, of West Indies cricket to thrive in the new paradigm of globalism, into which individual cricketers are fully integrated as purveyors of their services in the Indian Premier League, Big Bash and other tournaments. But there is little that anchors the contemporary team to the West Indies - not in the sense of nascent nationalist movements of the 1930s, with their sugar and oil field worker upheavals that galvanised the people who form the majority in the Caribbean; or the pre- and post-independence anti-colonialist awakenings of the 1950s and '60s; or the revolutionary liberation struggles of the 1970s.

 

drift and uncertainty

 

In the past two decades, West Indian society, from Guyana to Jamaica, has been in a state of drift and uncertainty. The region's economies have largely been stagnant, unable to deliver the quality of life to which its citizens aspire. Among the results of the failure of an economic breakthrough are poor educational outcomes, rising crime, and unrootedness among the youth. There, is, too, a deepening self-doubt, a question mark about the ability of the region to accomplish things. This manifests itself, among other ways, in the state of West Indies cricket - and vacuous explanations like Ramdin's.

It is against this backdrop that we believe it is important that a country like Jamaica demonstrate the discipline to complete its current economic reform project and establish its capacity to be competitive in the global environment. That, too, is good for cricket. It is important for understanding that while different, this epoch of globalisation is not disconnected from history.

Further, we propose that the West Indies Cricket Board commission audio editions of C.L.R. James' Beyond a Boundary, both volumes of Sir Hilary Beckles' The Development of West Indies Cricket, and Michael Manley's A History of West Indies Cricket, making them compulsory listening for all Test players and aspiring members of the board.