Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Tony Becca | Enough is enough!

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Former West Indies batting star Brian Lara
West Indies Test and One Day International captain Jason Holder.
Clive Lloyd, captain of the West Indies' two World Cup winning sides, holds aloft one of the trophies during a ceremony honouring the players of the 1975 and 1979 sides at Sabina Park in 2007.
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When I was a boy, there was nothing to me like West Indies cricket. The names of players like Worrell, Weekes, and Walcott, Ramadhin, and Valentine were like music to my ears.

When I became a young man, West Indies cricket was still dear to me, so much so that even when Maurice Foster, my schoolmate, was not selected to the team, even at Sabina Park, and when Jamaicans called for us to go it alone, I still remained committed to West Indies cricket.

Names like Sobers and Kanhai, Hall, Griffith, and Gibbs were like distant drums calling me to the game.

In the days of Rowe and Richards, Lloyd, Richardson, Lara, Roberts, Holding, and Dujon, etcetera, I was still a West Indian man, win, lose, or draw.

I never imagined, or rather, I could never have imagined, cricket, or Test cricket, without my beloved West Indies, a West Indies, which was, a time or two, the champions of the world, and at one time, the team rated as the greatest of all time.

Today, as all those famous names recede further and further into the past, and the glorious deeds of the team disappear into history, I wonder if I am dreaming, or if I was dreaming.

When I became a well-grown man, and when the West Indies went from 1976 to 1995, 19 years and losing only once in an ugly series in New Zealand, I remember that grown West Indian children had never known the West Indies to lose or that they could lose.

Today, for over 20 years, however, the West Indies undoubtedly have a losing record, even to Ireland and Afghanistan in limited-over cricket, and I know that even grown men have never known the West Indies to win, at least not consistently so and definitely not against the old foes.

The only saving grace are some glittering performances from the likes of Brian Lara, Richie Richardson, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jimmy Adams, Marlon Samuels, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, and Franklyn Rose, and more recently, from players like Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Devendra Bishoo, and Shai Hope.

For the West Indies, 25 years, or so, is not a long time, at least, not long enough, it seems, to develop a plan, a programme, a strategy.

 

FALLING AWAY

 

For too long, for 25 years or so, West Indies cricket has been falling away; for too long, West Indies cricketers, on the whole and with few exceptions, have been from the same mould, generally ordinary and mediocre; for too long, the coaches, who have been the wrong coaches, have been doing almost nothing in developing skills; for too long, the selectors have been going into the hat and coming out with nothing but the same old thing; and for too long, the same people have been in charge.

Cricket is a business is the shout from the pulpit, but regardless of the reasons, in any other business, such a record of losses, and of no sign of improvement, would mean the removal or resignation of those at the top and those who they hired to do the job.

It has reached a stage where almost anyone who plays cricket in the West Indies can play for the West Indies, can bat in the position usually reserved for those who can bat, or can be selected as a bowler, or can be the captain of the team.

Cricket, however, is a business like no other business, except those in sports. Money is not everything. Performance is everything, or almost everything.

From the president, to the managers, to the coaches, to the captains, and to the players, even to the new ones, talking is what they are good at doing, or rather, feel that they are good at doing.

Success, victory, is always just around the corner, or just coming in the next game, once, they say monotonously and hopefully, the batsmen bat properly, the bowlers bowl well, and the fielders field well.

The defeats are coming too fast, too heavily, and also from every quarter. They are coming in Test matches, where the West Indies were once the best; they are coming in the 50-over games, where the West Indies were once the best; they are coming in T20, where the West Indies are supposed to be the best; and after escaping defeat against Scotland recently, they are even coming at the hands of Ireland and Afghanistan, regularly.

The West Indies were hot favourites by some to win the recent World Cup qualifier, and after escaping against Zimbabwe and Scotland, they fell, for yet another time, to Afghanistan and their teenage bowlers.

Since then, the West Indies went to Pakistan for three T20 matches and lost all three, one after being dismissed for 60 in 13.4 overs in reply to 203 for five; one by 82 runs after Pakistan had rattled up 205 for three and dismissed them for 123; and one by eight wickets and 3.1 overs after Pakistan had limited them to 153 for six and had raced to 154 for two with time to spare.

 

LITTLE EXPERIENCE

 

Manager Stuart Law has been quoted as saying, foolishly, that "we brought a very young team with a little experience ... we lost the series 3-0, but we got better as the series went on, and that's a good sign for us ... . I thought every time we went out there, we had a more positive attitude towards the game" and that "we probably lacked desire in the first two games."

The team to Pakistan included only three newcomers, of which only one was a batsman. The rest of the players have been representing the West Indies for some time and the team was not, as coach Law said, a "very young team with little experience."

It was, however, a West Indies team, and although nothing lasts forever, and even though the West Indies cannot win every time, or should not be expected to do so, the present situation, despite some problems with players, where they are failing so often and are not even competitive with the good teams, is embarrassing, and especially so for a team with such a rich history.

Money is important, but sometimes, even if the West Indies have been invited, if they cannot field a reasonably good team, it may be better not to send a team, or any team, at least, not a team that cannot even compete.

Many people have been saying it, but I never knew that I would ever feel this way: maybe, just maybe, the West Indies should step aside, get their house in order, and come again.

It may take a while to make it back, but probably the time has come to ask, is enough probably enough?