Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Time for a change

Published:Sunday | January 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM
WICB president Dave Cameron

The last year, like the ones immediately preceding it, was a miserable one for West Indies cricket.

Apart from continuing on a downward path - a path which has seen winning a Test match against the better teams, the top seven teams, as an impossible dream - West Indies cricket is now also in debt, to the tune of US $42 million, and without a cent in its pocket.

On top of that, the slide is fast and there seems no end in sight. It is like a rudderless ship with nothing, or no one, to guide it through troubled waters in this its moment, or years, of distress.

And yet this was not always the case, certainly not before or when the West Indies were twice champions of the world.

While we could not remain the best in the world forever, there is no reason why we should have dropped so far and so suddenly, or why we should have remained at the bottom for so long.

Twenty years is a long time and it seems as if it will never end.

Teams that have fall and risen

During that period, as pointed out recently by Charles Wilkin, the QC from St Kitts and a man who knows about West Indies cricket inside and outside, Australia, England and India have fallen and risen three times; South Africa, coming back into cricket in 1991, have produced a number of top-class teams; and even though Wilkin did not mention them, so too have Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Things have been so bad that after rain had ruined the second Test against South Africa recently and the West Indies were rejoicing in the performances of Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels, Hashim Amla said loud and clear for all to hear that all he needed on the last day was just enough time to run up a score and 50 or 60 to bowl the West Indies out.

Words are cheap, or so they say, but that is the general level of respect these days for the West Indies team.

The time has come to change all that, to make a concerted effort to change all that, and the place to start is with the members of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and, most importantly, those who lead the board, starting with the president.

I do not fully blame the board for the poor standard of West Indies cricket for, like the region's journalists or cricket writers, their members neither bat nor bowl and neither do they field nor do they captain the team.

I do not blame the board or the president for the omission of Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard or for the earlier omission of Darren Sammy from the current tour of South Africa.

All three, plus all those who went along with them, deserve to pay for their action in India, regardless of their problems with the board. There are ways to deal with problems, even though the same is also true of the board.

CARICOM take over

The way the board has dealt with the issue, with the three players, nevertheless, needs clarification. There are ways of doing things; there is a right and a wrong way, and justice must not only be done, it must appear to be done.

There are those who are calling for CARICOM to take over West Indies cricket, but I do not agree with such a move. Cricket is cricket and regardless of what politicians and others in the society of the West Indies may say, although it belongs to the people, it does not belong in the political arena.

Despite its history in the West Indies, cricket is a sport, just like football, track and field, etcetera, etcetera.

Cricket, for example, may be different in Barbados with the likes of Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, Conrad Hunte, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Garry Sobers, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall, to name a few, than in Jamaica, where their cricket stars are challenged by the others such as Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden, Don Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt, and a host of others in other sports.

change is urgent

It is, therefore, the business of the people in cricket to change what is happening in cricket and, in the case of West Indies cricket, the change is urgent, or else it may be too late.

The WICB, or the president, whoever he may be, does not own West Indies cricket. West Indies cricket is owned by the people in West Indies cricket. They are the ones who put the board members in office. They are the ones who vote them in and they are ones who vote them out, or who can vote them out. And it is simple.

According to the basic structure of cricket in the West Indies, those in cricket come together and form a club, two representatives from each club attend a meeting and form a national association, and then two representatives of each association go to another meeting and form the WICB.

The West Indies Board's responsibility is to run West Indies cricket successfully, or make every effort to do so, and also to do so according to the wishes of the affiliates.

It is not for the West Indies Board to dictate. Contrary to that, the board is answerable to its affiliates and not the other way around.

The board members can be voted out of office. This board should be voted out of office and they can be voted out of office by a majority of the two representatives of each of the board's affiliates, either that or the move, the process, can start from the level of each affiliate, from the national associations, or from the floor of each national association.

May West Indies cricket start the new year on a happy note, maybe even with a victory in South Africa.