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Rudolph Smellie | WICB must end vendetta

Published:Wednesday | August 24, 2016 | 8:00 AMRudolph Smellie
Carlos Brathwaite

The strange appointment of Carlos Brathwaite, in place of Darren Sammy, and ahead of the likes of a Kieron Pollard, as West Indies T20 captain, as well as the spurious justification for it posited by chairman of selectors, Courtney Brown, can only be properly explained as part and parcel of the latest episode of the vendetta being perpetrated by the West Indies Cricket Board against those players who have found it necessary to defy it.

For, in terms of the Brathwaite vs Sammy toss-up, surely Mr Brown, in defending such appointment/axing as being based on performance, cannot expect sensible people to accept that Brathwaite's four-ball heroics at the end of the World T20 final, his recent quite mediocre offerings otherwise, and his zero experience as a leader, should trump Sammy's reasonable form with ball and bat in the recent CPL, and his tried and proven record as a leader in the T20 format.

And, in citing attributes of humility and a committed approach to the game said to be possessed by Carlos as qualities which would "inspire young and upcoming players", surely Mr Brown cannot be suggesting that Sammy is not at least as committed and humble in attitude.

Then, if, as would have been reasonable, it were considered that, because of comparative recent performances, Sammy should give way as T20 captain to, say, a Pollard or a D.J. Bravo, surely Mr Brown could never suggest that either of these two is not at least as committed as Brathwaite, and that, as a leader, Carlos's humility would necessarily inspire youngsters more than would the infectious self-confidence and dynamism of the other two.

No, it is clear that this decision is the latest of the unrelenting, blatant, orchestrated acts of victimisation by the board, wherein Sammy is now being seen as its new enemy, to add to its old ones, Pollard and Bravo, regarded as the authors of the 'India Debacle', to whom the WICB has obviously vowed never to turn or return in its choice of captain.

 

CLEAR DISRESPECT

 

What is even worse is the clear disrespect the board shows for the entire group of now long-serving T20 champions the region has spawned, and the fact that it obviously does not matter to the board whether this whole scenario may have such a demoralising effect on them that it might serve to bring down the world-beating standards attained in that format.

It is time for the board to stop this divisive, vindictive nonsense and focus on steps that might genuinely improve, rather than destroy, our cricket.

In this regard, I hold the view that our Test cricketers will not improve significantly enough to successfully compete with the best sides in the world, unless we can get enough of our better talent to play for an extended period in the best first-class competitions in the world, such as in England, Australia, India and South Africa.

Exposure to first-class cricket is key, but I contend, as no one seems willing to openly admit that our first-class season, for obvious financial reasons, will never be long enough, and will never be of a sufficiently high standard to enable players to develop adequately. Indeed, I further contend that instead of having a policy to force our best players to play in it, we should be seeking to have them play in the better leagues abroad.

 

SHIFT IN FOCUS NEEDED

 

Instead of our cricket board preoccupying itself with policy initiatives of inevitably limited effect, and decisions, such as the Brathwaite appointment, which are clearly indefensible and vindictive, its members should focus their best managerial efforts on what might really make a difference - the diplomatic quest for better opportunities abroad for our best young and emerging talent at the first-class level.

I recommend that the highest-ranking officers of our board swallow their pride and make the necessary overtures to the English, Indian, Australian, and South African cricketing authorities, each to take, let's say, four of our more promising players for two to three years into their domestic first-class set-up, even at our board's whole or partial expense.

The exact terms and logistics of any such arrangements would, of course, have to be worked out. But, it is submitted that if West Indies cricket at the Test level is to be saved, such an initiative is worth a try.

• Rudolph Smellie is an attorney-at-law, who has a BA in jurisprudence from Oxford University and an MSc in government from the University of the West Indies.