Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Tony Becca: Staying in or going out

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AM
PJ Patterson

When the standard of West Indies cricket was officially recognised in 1928, it signalled a time of jubilation by West Indians, and not even a 3-0 defeat at the hands of England, with each Test finishing in three days and by an innings and 58 runs, an innings and 30 runs, and by an innings and 71 runs could dampen the spirit.

In fact, although fast bowler Herman Griffith snatched six wickets in one innings, it was an embarrassing occasion with only three 50s in the series and with not one batsman scoring a century, as the team crashed to totals of 177 and 166, 206 and 115, and 238 and 129.

Since those days of mixed reactions, West Indies cricket has come a long way.

Riding on the backs of Clifford Roach, George 'Atlas' Headley, Learie Constantine, Griffith, and Manny Martindale, the West Indies grew from strength to strength until it joined the world in class with the likes of Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, and Clyde Walcott, Sonny Ramadhin and Alfred Valentine, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Allan Rae, Franz Alexander, and Gerry Gomez.

Then came the glory days of Conrad Hunte, Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers the great one - Basil Butcher, Seymour Nurse, Jackie Hendriks, Lance Gibbs, Roy Gilchrist, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith when they ruled the world as unofficial champions.

Shortly after that came Roy Fredericks, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Lawrence Rowe, Alvin Kallicharran, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Deryck Murray, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Wayne Daniel, Malcolm Marshall, and Jeffrey Dujon, the all-conquering, undisputed champions of the world.

After that, and before the collapse, came a few great and good individuals, batsmen and bowlers like Brian Lara, Richie Richardson, and Carl Hooper, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, and Patrick Patterson.

On top of everything else, throughout their time, the West Indies have produced many players with the skill worthy of representing the world, and at the same time at that.

 

EXCITING PLAY

 

Because of their history of exciting play and the excitement they offered to cricket, it has long been said by the world at large that cricket needs a strong West Indies team.

No one, not even in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the West Indies were losing match after match, and except in the early 1970s when a few misguided individuals uttered such sentiments founded on insular selections, ever thought of that.

Today, however, following defeat after defeat of the West Indies team, following trouble between the board and the players, following player strike after player strike, following quarrel after quarrel between the board and the CARICOM government, and following review committees set up by the board and the subsequent dumping of committees' findings and recommendations, there is a growing talk of the West Indian territories going it alone.

The three review committees were organised by the board. They were headed by former Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, St Kitts-Nevis Queen's Council Charles Wilkin, and University of the West Indies Cave Hill's principal Eudine Barriteau.

Although it commissioned the reviews, the board ignored their findings and recommendations, forcing Patterson to say that "the status quo is unacceptable", Wilkin to say that the board members "want to preserve at all costs their position on the board", and Barriteau to say that "The WICB should be immediately dissolved and all current members resign while an interim board be selected ... to install a new governance framework."

"If the heads of government represent the entire population of the region, I don't know how any organisation that represents just a few persons can, in fact, negate the position of the heads," said Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada.

The resistance of the board to the popular recommendation triggered the whispers of going it alone.

 

SERIOUS ACTION

 

Trinidad and Tobago, it is understood, have asked the ICC how feasible is it to go it alone, and last week, T&T Prime Minister Keith Rowley said on his return from a CARICOM meeting in Belize that it was decided to terminate discussions with the board and that "the time has come for serious action in trying to save West Indies cricket".

West Indies cricket is strapped for cash, and more than that, every now and then, the board goes to the governments with cap in hand. The cricket grounds around the territories, for example, are owned by the governments.

The "serious action", as necessary as it is, as important as it is, hopefully, does not lead to the break-up of West Indies cricket.

The West Indies have come too far to break up now.

Think once, think twice, before deciding what to do. The West Indian territories do not possess the money, the numbers, the skill, or probably the desire to make it alone, if they attempt to go it alone.

If they take a rest, with the intention of sorting things out before they come back, they may never do so, or it may take a long, long time to come back.

And if they really want to go it alone, not one of the territories, not Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, the Leeward Islands or the Windward Islands is big enough, or rich enough, to host a Test series against any of India, England, Australia, or South Africa.

The West Indian territories would end up probably only engaging each other.