Wed | Sep 20, 2017

CARICOM clueless on cricket

Published:Friday | November 6, 2015 | 11:00 AM

I read with interest the recommendation by the CARICOM Cricket Review Panel a few days ago for "the immediate dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and the appointment of an interim board whose structure and composition will be radically different from the now proven, obsolete government framework".

This is big stuff. The governments around the region are now convinced that they can do a better job than the WICB of running cricket. I'm not convinced that Caribbean governments can claim to come with an impeccable resume to tackle this issue.

Most Caribbean territories are struggling economies. Crime and violence is a top priority. We are, in essence, a Third World region struggling to improve our standard of living to compare with more efficiently run countries. We are in the state we are because, by and large, our politicians have collectively failed us.

Politicians form governments, and our governments can't get any ringing endorsements on the way they have governed their respective nations. Why regional governments think they can run West Indies cricket more efficiently than the WICB has done is beyond me.

The aim of CARICOM is to have a team that will be world-beaters again. Why should we believe that they are able to do that when very few of them can claim to run a country that can compete with the top nations around?

 

Just rhetoric

 

The other thing that jumps out at me is CARICOM's claim that "the transformation of the governance and administrative framework is necessary to improve conditions affecting all players". The CARICOM panel feels that "the existing governance mechanisms do not provide an appropriate environment and framework to address the changes and within the game of cricket, and the business of cricket".

All of that is some nicely worded rhetoric, but it's not explicit and direct enough for me to say that whatever CARICOM is coming with will make any significant difference. The report was vague, for the most part, and I was disappointed that there weren't enough workable ideas proposed so that I could judge for myself whether CARICOM was just being emotional and seeking to benefit, for political purposes, or whether they could, in fact, come up with ideas to make West Indies cricket better.

The set-up of the WICB is not much different from its workings in the so-called halcyon days. The rules were pretty much the same in terms of how the membership was formulated and who called the shots.

When we were dominating the world in cricket, it wasn't because of any brilliance on the part of the board. The WICB was merely carried along by the tide.

A similar situation exists locally. ISSA has been the body set up to oversee our annual high-school athletics championships, and we all know that Champs has been instrumental in causing Jamaica to be such a factor on the world stage, especially in sprinting.

 

Social pastime

 

The truth, though, is that those who have run ISSA can take little credit for our track and field success. The social and historical forces that shape Champs are above the hierarchy of any ISSA administration. The same thing is true of West Indies cricket.

It's not the quality of the board that made us great, nor, it must be said, was it because of the quality of our respective governments. We were a special cricket force because we were passionate about cricket as a nation, or group of nations, in a way that made cricket in the 1970s and '80s not just a mere game, but almost a social pastime.

We have lost that passion and, therefore, are now producing cricketers without the work ethic and the quality to make us special in the Test format. Until that comes back, we will continue to struggle.

No report, no recommendation, no meeting of intellectuals will make us a cricket force again unless the Caribbean boy starts loving cricket again at a higher level than he does now. That is something that neither the WICB nor CARICOM can fix, not in the short term, at least.

CARICOM's recommendation to dissolve the WICB will grab headlines in real terms, it's much ado about nothing. The problems of West Indies cricket are bigger than CARICOM and the board.

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.