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Editorial: West Indies cricket not beyond rescue

Published:Monday | January 11, 2016 | 1:00 AM

The West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) no-balling of the CARICOM Review Panel's recommendation that the cricket authority dissolve itself came as no surprise in the wake of Dave Cameron's reticence, initially, to meet with, and dismissive attitude towards, Caribbean prime ministers after a grisly post-mortem of the board's governance of the game.

Despite the bid at sophistry, the board viewed with contempt the bases of analysis of the review panel, accusing the members of concocting a report that was not anchored on facts gleaned from consultation with relevant personnel. Plainly, it was fiction. If the WICB's charge - that the panel did not conduct interviews with presidents or other members of the territorial boards - is true, it represents a scandalous lack of due diligence that we would have expected from that august group.

The panel's proposal for disbandment may have whetted the appetite of the baying hounds tired of the intrigue and upheaval that have plagued the WICB, but that populist recommendation for an interim leadership would have done nothing to halt the rot. In fact, it may have exacerbated it.

The report had too many flaws for the WICB to punch holes in its credibility. It erred in not noting recommendations by previous committees that had been implemented, among them the installation of independent directors and other structural reforms that have brought the board within best-practice paradigms.

Caribbean governments are stakeholders in the sphere of cricket by virtue of their investment in infrastructure and organisation, but care must be taken to prevent political leaders from arrogating to themselves powers that are beyond their scope and competence. Too great an involvement of the prime ministerial clique could add new and more entrenched layers of bureaucracy, potentially increasing insularity and expediting the atrophy that has come to define the West Indies.

While we have not been enamoured with the management style of the WICB, this newspaper considers it intellectually dishonest to crucify the board, primarily, for the precipitous slide in Caribbean cricket and the doldrums in which the senior men's side finds itself. In raw rankings, the West Indies are in the top tier of Twenty20 cricket, the shortest, most popular and fastest-growing format that glamorises quick-fire run chases.

 

CULTURE OF PLAYER RECKLESSNESS

 

But in the more traditional versions of the game, 50-over and Test cricket, the West Indies have been pathetic, marked by a catastrophic two-decade degeneration which has left the once-mighty colossus swimming with minnows and upstarts. The reasons for this decline are multifactorial - and the board does not escape blame - linked to reduced involvement in English county tournaments, and a culture of player recklessness on the field.

The board has been told to get more legends in management. That failed. Inject new, youthful players into the squad. That failed. Pad the pockets of players. That, too, failed.

Though structure and investment are important elements of cricket, it will take more than that to reclaim the glory of the 1970s and '80s. What the board should do is hold players accountable for their performance, giving reward for excellence and punishment for underachievement.

Perhaps the current West Indies Cricket Board's greatest legacy, if it had the cojones, might be to implement a landmark performance-pay regime which gives every man his worth. West Indies fans might just benefit by a surge in achievement from the team's mercenary character.