Foster's Fairplay | The solution to WI problems
If having to play in a series of qualifying matches leading into the ICC 2019 World Cup was not enough embarrassment for the two-time title holders, West Indies had the ignominy of further shame in the warm-up games that preceded the official encounters with the game's lesser lights.
First, it was Afghanistan, the Windies co-favourite to advance to the medal round who, recovering from 71 for 8, were allowed to amass 163 off their allotted 50 overs. The West Indies, who included veterans Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels in their team, were hustled out of 110. Next, they were up against the United Arab Emirates, who they defeated by 60 runs in their opening qualifying match. They could only muster a paltry 115 from 33.4 overs and another defeat seemed imminent, until left armer Nikita Miller with 5 for 25 and speedster Kemar Roach 3 for 15 combined with offie Ashley Nurse to send the oil men packing at 83. It was a victory that would not have engendered much pride in the West Indies camp.
All this, despite the occasional victory, continues to signal total gloom for a team that at one time or another held the reins of the sport over all formats. Of great importance, and to the discomfort and bewilderment of the team's supporters, is the fact that the administrators of the sport seem unable to push the right button in a bid to restore any semblance of the pride the team once carried around - instilling fear and respect among our rivals from other countries.
Many point to suspect leadership as the root of the team's problems. As much as that thought is fuelled by some faulty steps in player relationships, it cannot be the sole cause. Others point to the rise in popularity, and of course the financial attraction of T-20 cricket. However, this is knocked flat during an Ashes series, as was recently completed between Australia and England. There was no sign of sparse crowds or lack of competition on display there.
Foster's Fairplay has to look in another direction for an answer to West Indies 'problems. Wycliffe 'Dave' Cameron, the president of Cricket West Indies, has been more often than not under heavy criticism for his style, or lack thereof. The only creditable way there is to prove or reject this is to remove him and give the system some time to react to his absence. The opinion here is that there would be very little change, if any at all. At that point, should it be ''Sorry, sir, but it was not your fault?"
What is now left is the stark realisation that adequate remuneration for players is what needs to be addressed. If the West Indies cannot field its best players, there will be less high points in the game to attract the crowds for whom winning is the only thing. However, it cannot be a quick-fix process. Some of that cash about which Cameron boasts needs to be ploughed into the development of players at the club level. These clubs, on their part, should extend their recruiting arms to attract talent from the primary schools with the mantra that "none shall escape".
This is long term and will call for different thinking and execution. One is confident that this method will expose players now not seen on the horizon, because other sports are getting the benefit of the athleticism and passion that are currently eluding the sport that gifted Sir Garfield Sobers, Lawrence Rowe and the like.
It will take some bright minds to sign off on these suggestions.
Are they still available?