Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Wheel and come again, Mr President

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:01 AM
Cameron

Dave Cameron, president of the West Indies Cricket Board, the big man in cricket, is under pressure, and like many presidents before him, it is because of the failure of the West Indies team on the field of play as well as for their general attitude and conduct off it.

While no one can guarantee top-class results or winning results all the time, the fact is that, whereas the West Indies were once a good team, once unofficial champions of the world, and once undisputed champions of the world for a long, long time, they are now parked at the bottom of the standings, or as near to it as possible, for many years.

The West Indies are ranked at number eight out of 10, and thank God for Zimbabwe and Bangladesh who, apparently, control the last two positions.

That may not be the president's fault. After all, he does not bat, bowl, or field, and neither does he coach nor does he manage the team.

He is, however, the one who controls or influences everything, or most things in the game, including the one who forms the cricket committee, who is the manager, who is the coach or coaches, and importantly, who are the selectors.

He, therefore, is the man who guides West Indies cricket, for better or for worse.

In spite of what many see as blunders by the president, including his support of India, England, and Australia as head of the new-look ICC, and his reported attitude towards India during the recent impasse, I believe that right now he is trying his best to do what is right for West Indies cricket.

I believe that Cameron, and his team, feels badly about the state of West Indies cricket, that he has looked at West Indies cricket, that he has seen its weaknesses in the absence of loyalty, the poor competitions, the lack of real coaching, the poor attitude towards training, and the imbalance of the pay structure of the players.

He has seen the disparity in the salaries of those who represent the West Indies, those who are on the verge of representing the West Indies, those who keep cricket going day in and day out, and he tried to do something about it.

I believe that is what led to the problem in India.

According to him, however, the problem with West Indies cricket is to be found elsewhere. Cameron has laid the blame, some of the blame, at the feet of West Indian journalists.

Talking to Michael Bascombe recently about the state of cricket commentary in the region, however, the president missed the boat, and he missed it completely.

Cameron attempted to blame West Indian sportswriters, cricket writers, and commentators for the ills of West Indies cricket.

Cameron, the president of the WICB, said that he had a problem with sportswriters, cricket writers, and cricket commentators in the region, that the cricket writers do nothing but criticise instead of trying to assist, that they consistently curse the Board and the players, that they speak derogatorily of the Board and the players all the time, that sponsors will not get involved with the game because of that, and that they need to understand that everybody has a responsibility to the game.

He said that they need to get people to watch the game.

Cameron also said that nowhere else in the world do cricket writers, or commentators, behave like they do in the West Indies. He must be joking, however, either that or he has never been to England, or to India.

CRICKET WORKSHOP

According to the president, the thing is to get everybody on board, and as such he will support the call for a cricket workshop as he would love to address everybody in one forum.

The president surely missed the boat this time around.

First of all, he is not qualified to speak to journalists about how they do their job.

If the president wants to do that, then he must hire special people to write and commentate on cricket. He will then able to call them together, and tell them what he wants of them to do, or not to do. They then can try to please him by trying to protect the game.

They can then write and commentate about it in glowing terms, even when they are winning only one out of 45 Test matches against top teams away from home in the past 14 years, or try to market the game.

It is as simple as that.

The sportswriters, the cricket writers, and the cricket commentators, once they are journalists, which most of them (in the Caribbean) are, have no special responsibility to cricket.

As journalists, their responsibility is to write or to commentate professionally, to criticise when criticism is necessary, to offer praise where praise is deserved, to report whatever is going on, and to do so accurately, honestly, and with a sense of fair play.

Their responsibility is to whoever reads the newspaper, looks at the television screens, or whoever listens to the radio. Their responsibility is to no one else, once they are accurate, once they are honest, and once they are fair.

The president is one of those responsible for West Indies cricket, and he cannot get away from it. He, and his board members, and the West Indies team are responsible for keeping the game alive, for improving the standard of West Indies cricket, for getting people to watch it, and for its image to the outside world.

The Board, and the players, by their performance, are also obligated to attract sponsors to the game.

The sportswriters, the cricket writers, or the cricket commentators cannot and should not be expected to do any of these things. It is, simply, not their responsibility.