Sun | May 28, 2017

Battered, bruised, abused WI fans

Published:Tuesday | December 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
file West Indies cricket fans at a one day international match at Sabina Park.
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West Indies cricket fans have got to be the most battered, bruised, abused, and disrespected cricket fans in the entire world. Our perspective is the most unique in the modern game, having come full circle from the days when the Caribbean men were the undisputed kingpins of the glorious game to here and now when the West Indies are perennially numbered among the shameless beating sticks of the modern game.

The fans of other non-performing teams, such as Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and New Zealand, have never experienced the triumphant highs of being celebrated world champions and therefore need no major psychological adjustments for the emotional journey from the dizzy heights of being the best to the gutter low of being one of the worst.

Not only have the fortunes of the West Indies team fluctuated over the years, but the entire face of cricket continues to evolve with the major impact of the Twenty20 version of the game providing some respite for the Caribbean fans when Darren Sammy and his men lifted the world Twenty20 title in 2012. Other than that now-rapidly disappearing memory, the passionate and colourful Caribbean people have had precious little to jump and shout about in recent years.

Arrogance and insensitivity

"The once mighty Windies", as they have become known, are now ranked eight out of 10 in Test cricket, only above Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ireland in the 50 overs format, and are seventh in the 14-team table in the shortest version.

Not only do the fans of the current team have to endure the indignity of watching and listening the West Indies lose three out of every four games, but we are constantly met with instances of arrogance and insensitivity from the regional players and administrators. The latest instance of this abuse occurred in that now-infamous truncated tour of India. As that saga unfolded, it was with absolute disdain for the concerns and desires of the fans and everyone else that the players selfishly walked off the tour.

We are yet to hear anyone in the leadership of the board, the players' association, or the players themselves, even once mention the fans of West Indies cricket, much less express empathy with the misery and the agony we have gone through and continue to go through with the wretched performances and obnoxious attitude of the players. The scornful message seems to be "take it or leave it". Accept the wimpish incompetence of the team along with the heartless greed of the players who place absolutely no value on performance.

Indian tour fiasco

The abuse, while a bit more subtle and indirect, is equally painful when dished out by the West Indies Cricket Board, the most recent case being the board's terse response to the Indian tour fiasco. Amidst the deafening silence and the calls for some semblance of accountability for the situation, the board proceeded to appoint a so-called task force to look into the debacle. Several weeks later, it has unofficially emerged that the task force has made some platitudinous pie-in-the-sky recommendations and predictably has come up with the politically correct decision to share the blame equally amongst the West Indies board, the West Indies Players' Association and, of course, the players. This in effect means everyone is to be blamed, so no one is to be blamed, which in effect means business as usual, all to the bewilderment of the suffering fans.

The ice cream truck continues to cruise through the international cricket neighbourhood, with the West Indies players and the board membership, and all those directly involved with the team representing the children of privilege who are allowed to skip along and get their scoops and refills of delicious ice cream, while the fans are like the poor neighbours peeping through their windows wishing and praying for a taste of the goodies. Even the novelty of drinking and partying while watching the West Indies play is now wearing thin. I think it is time Caribbean cricket fans send a message or two to this crop of players and the arrogant leadership of the board, reminding them that we the fans exist, and that even more fundamentally, we have been suffering for far too long.

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and as a badly battered, bruised, and disrespected West Indies cricket fan, I have taken my first step, with the decision not to personally attend any more games played by this current West Indies team. Enough is just enough