Laurie Foster | CWI forced to scrape the barrel
Cricket West Indies, as the most recent name change has it, has been accused of many moves thought to be destructive to the game model the fans once knew and enjoyed. One thing that it should not have in its debit column: is lack of support for the shortest format - the Twenty20 (T20) big-money hustle. It can never be denied that its influx has brought great fortune to the sport, both in the corporate structure and players. There are some one day and T-20 bullies who would not get close to what is called "real cricket" in those bygone years. Yet, they survive. However, the question needs to be asked, what is the cost that is being paid when the longer version is struggling for support?
BEST FOOT FORWARD
As this column is being written, the island territories are putting their best available foot forward, contesting the regional 4-dayers throughout the Caribbean. The teams might be shorn of talent, but they are where they are assigned. The Windies senior team, straight from a seesaw test battle in England, is flexing some muscle in Zimbabwe, and the A team is engaged with its counterparts from Sri Lanka, with the final of three minitests fighting the bad weather under lights in Kingston. All this, while some of the cream of the region's batting talent have been selected to slog it out in the Bangladesh League.
It gets worse as it is more than likely that as soon as they "find their feet," Captain Holder's brightest lights will be setting sail to more lucrative exploits, and who can blame them? The world governing body, The International Cricket Council (ICC), and its members, should find a way to structure the various competitions so that all concerned are afforded their fair share. With our players scattered on those named expeditions across the world, the ensuing fragmentation, weakens the individual teams that are put out to battle. Seldom, if ever, are players denied the requisite permission to travel. It is left to the player to decide which dangling carrot is chosen. With the remuneration for shorter versions at the height that it is, there can be no doubt as to the choice.
This has led to a situation where the players are running the show, going off to the more lucrative situations, leaving the selectors to choose from what is left. This has to be addressed. The ICC needs to lay down some rules that give certain periods when the different formats must be played. Time must be allowed for rest to avoid player burnout.
FATE OF THE CROWD FAVOURITES
In the broader spectrum of West Indies cricket, the crowd-pulling players are either getting entrenched in the shorter game or trending towards it. From where, then, will come the re-birth of the allure that once was the test game? It is frequently said, and with sound reasoning, that the game of cricket needs the Windies in all formats. For this to be sustained, as a brighter future for the West Indies is sought, let the ICC take a look at the seasonal and climatic aspects of the different countries and confine competition accordingly. To discontinue the loss of the best or near best, this is the advised route. Great players are not easy to come by. When they threaten, they should be given full reign to explore their best talents.
Restricting them to one format, even though self-induced, cannot be the way.
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