Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Let's try some of our good cricketers

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 cricket action at Sabina Park. - File

Tony Becca, Contributor

A few weeks ago, I read an article on Cricinfo. It was written by Mark Nicholas, a former captain of Hampshire and now cricket presenter on Channel 5 in England and on Channel 9 in Australia, and it got me excited.

It was an article about something close to my heart. It was an article in which he suggested that world cricket should be administered by those in cricket - by former players, umpires, commentators, and writers.

I found the suggestion very interesting, more so, and especially for cricket in the West Indies. That would never happen, however, unless things change, and drastically at that.

In West Indies cricket, almost everything is controlled and managed by people who have little or no knowledge of what they command, or rather, expert knowledge in or commitment to what they command.

Unqualified persons

In the West Indies, people, many people, end up in positions for which they are not equipped nor qualified, simply because of who they know, who knows them, or because of a friend in court. In West Indies cricket also, people, of late, end up in positions on the board, including territorial boards, because of the feeling of power and the availability of the substantial perks.

That is the reason, in most cases, for the campaigning, and the canvassing.

That is why West Indies cricket would do well with a change: It will do well with having people in charge whose focus is on the improvement of cricket rather than making money for cricket, or out of cricket.

Money is important for cricket to survive, and there is no doubt about that. Improvement in the standard of play and making money, however, can go hand in hand. It does not have to be one or the other, as it is, it seems, right now.

For years now, the world of cricket has been talking about nothing but money, and as Nicholas said, in an effort to make money, to make the game more attractive for spectators and for television audiences, the powers that be have tinkered with it and have gone through many things, and everything.

Nothing, however, has changed. Nothing that is, as affects the standard of play, or the attendance at matches, and especially so in the West Indies.

Genuine cricket fans

The feeling of the genuine cricket fan matters little, it seems, to those who run the game. The powers that be have fiddled with the possibility of a World Test Championship and two divisions in Test cricket. They have tinkered with the 50-over competitions, they have made changes in the number of teams in the World Cup more than once, they have tried changes in over-rates and types of pitches, they have introduced T20 cricket with smaller boundaries, and Future Tours Programmes.

They even went from red balls to white balls and coloured clothing.

And nothing has changed, nothing really. While cricket is making money, Test cricket is sliding, and sliding fast.

The powers that be say that Test cricket is sliding because the people prefer the 50-over and the 20-over versions of the game. That, however, is not altogether true. What the people, some of them, prefer is excitement and entertainment. Some of the people, however, do enjoy the twists and turns and the drama, as well as the excitement and the entertainment, that Test cricket offers them.

The cricketer still prefers Test cricket. It is, to them, and to all true cricket lovers, the only true test of skill and endurance in the game. To them, there is nothing as enjoyable, or as satisfying, as a good performance in a Test match.

As Nicholas says, the difference in the reception of the three formats is the presentation of each one. T20, for example, is marketed much, much more than Test cricket.

T20 boundaries

In T20, the boundaries are smaller, and the thing is to hit sixes. The commentators behave like little children at a fair when the clowns arrive. Every shot, every six, is "gone, gone, gone", "it's gone miles", "what a brilliant shot", and it is "magnificent"; and every time the ball is caught, it is always a "fantastic" effort, sometimes even an act of near impossibility.

In other words, everything is done to sell T20 cricket. There is music and dancing girls, fireworks to mark every six, and generally things are done simply to win friends and influence spectators.

Maybe it is that the commentators are paid to do just that.

According to the powers that be, you have to give the people what they want. That, however, is also not entirely true.

Parents, as Nicholas said, do not give their children everything they want, or should not, or their teeth would fall out. He also said that most parents pick and choose for their kids, directing their lives in a way that encourages them to do what is right.

Money is important in life, and the hunt for money is good. Money, however, cannot be everything in life. In the West Indies, for example, where the Test players make money and the first-class players hardly make anything, and where the West Indies is crying out for financial help to fund its development programmes, the love of money, by the Test players, and the waste of money, by the board, are destroying West Indies cricket.

Maybe a change, with those in cricket including more of those good ones in cricket in charge of cricket, will see an improvement in the quality of cricket, particularly Test cricket, and in spectator support, as well as in the coffers of cricket.