Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Tony Becca | A figment of Cameron’s imagination

Published:Sunday | September 25, 2016 | 9:00 AM
WICB president Dave Cameron
West Indies batsman Roston Chase .
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Which is the best cricket team in the world?

Is it Pakistan, India, Australia, England, or South Africa, as the ICC rankings would suggest, or is it one of New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Bangladesh, or Zimbabwe?

To me, the number-one team should be Australia. They have been the best for a number of years, and although one must be good in any condition anywhere, and not only at home, and even though they lost recently to Sri Lanka on Sri Lanka's turning pitches, they must be the best.

Frankly, I do not see Pakistan as the number-one team, as the ranking shows, and definitely not over Australia, India, or England.

The team that I cannot see at number one or occupying that position in the near future, however, is the West Indies.

Unlike Dave Cameron, the under-pressure president of the West Indies Cricket Board, I am not blinkered. I simply cannot see the West Indies in the picture, or anywhere near to it, not now anyway.

I am not the president of the board, I am not a member of the board, and I am not the public relations officer for the board. I need not put a "spin" on things to make things look good or to suit anyone.

Cameron said recently at a meeting in Dominica: "We need to ask ourselves as the board, and as our public, what is it that the public wants from the West Indies Cricket Board?"

"The West Indies Cricket Board has just delivered three titles. There is no other cricket board in the world that has three titles to its name," continued Cameron as he went on to mention improved finances, the Professional Cricket League, and the recent performance of one like all-rounder Roston Chase against India.

He added: "We need to ask the public and our stakeholders to define for us what success looks like, and I think that once we agree what success looks like, I think it is easy to answer that question."

I wish I was there. I would have asked him this question: What is the business of the West Indies Cricket Board?

 

WEST INDIES RANKING

 

If he were to answer "cricket", I would ask him, for a start: When last have the West Indies beaten a top-ranking team whether at home or abroad? When last have the West Indies been ranked above number eight in the world in Test cricket and in one day cricket? When last did someone perform as good as Chase? When last have we got to the semi-final of the World Cup? When last have the West Indies players enjoyed a place of some degree of satisfaction in the rankings - Test and One-day?

The people, by attendance, may prefer T20 cricket, its many towering sixes, and its staged entertainment of flashing lights, music, and dancers, but I don't believe that they pay much attention to its figures, except who is the biggest hitter in T20 cricket.

T20 players, except for the batsmen, are basically nameless. The people do not know, or they do care not to know, who is the best bowler, or fielder, or catcher. But for a very few, the other players simply make up the numbers.

Although finances are important, and very important at that, cricket is not a financial business. Cricket is cricket, and those in charge of cricket must be, or should be, focused on the business of cricket.

In other words, if the West Indies are playing cricket, as important as money is, it's no use boasting of a little money in the bank while the team is coming last or thereabouts on the cricket field, and is also the beating stick, or the laughing stock, of every one, certainly of Australia, India, England, South Africa, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

And although the West Indies were the best and the most popular team in the world once upon a time, they are no longer so, neither do they possess the best batsman, bowler, wicketkeeper or captain as they did many times in the past.

Based on the crowds, the money in the bank did not come from playing cricket, or from playing cricket well. It must have been the West Indies' share from a pool of funds from the ICC and, therefore, nothing really to shout about.

What Cameron needs to do is to ask the public, what, in cricket, is success.

The people would answer him this way: Success in cricket is not so much about money but more about performance on the field; good performance, individually and collectively.

The people, from all around the world may also tell him that West Indies cricket cannot be a success when it has been occupying the number-eight spot or thereabouts out of 10 teams in anything but T20 cricket for as long as 20 years or so.

That would be the people's answer, and as long as cricket remains the way it is, as long as Test cricket continues to be the way in which all cricket, and cricketers, are judged, that's the way it will always be seen.

 

GREAT IN T20

 

The West Indies are fantastic, and they are superb in the flashy T20 form of the game, which many now see as the West Indian way of playing the game.

In the one-day format, however, they are embarrassing, and based on their performances, they are hardly any better in the sophisticated play of Test matches, the format which was once considered made for the West Indies.

But it may even be worse if the board continues to hire and to fire people like Phil Simmons and to change its cricket staff so often for differences of opinion, while clinging to one like Richard Pybus, its obviously "powerful" director of cricket.

And although it may turn out to be a good move in the end, like the selection of Fidel Edwards some years ago, the "blind" selection, in this day and age of so much first-class cricket, of a man based on his performance in the nets, is like grabbing at straws.