Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Tony Becca | West Indies cricket in a tailspin

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Cricket West Indies president Dave Cameron

If you listen to most West Indian cricket fans, the man who should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town for the embarrassing state of West Indies cricket is none other than president Dave Cameron.

Cameron, as the leader, must take some of the blame for the present state of West Indies cricket. He should not, and cannot, however, be held totally responsible for its present state.

And regardless of the talk, or excuses, of the captains and the coaches after each defeat, the kind comments from the winning captains after each embarrassing defeat, and the fact that a few senior players were missing, or were not selected, the results tell the story, especially on the recent tours of India and Bangladesh.

Regardless of what has been said and the many excuses, the tour to India was a disaster.

Despite India resting a number of their top players for the contests, and although one or two of the matches were close and exciting, the results were largely disappointing and embarrassing.

The scores were such that it made little difference the type of pitch or whether the West Indies batted first or second.

And the tour of Bangladesh, ranked just a few points below the West Indies at number nine, was no different.

In the two-Test series, for example, the West Indies lost for the first time in Bangladesh. They lost 2-0, and they lost by 64 runs and by an innings and 184 runs.

 

UNJUSTIFIED OCCASION

 

While Cameron must be applauded for his stance re the players on the many interruptions due to their participation in the various T20 leagues around the world, during their understandable fight for more money, the strike on at least one unjustified occasion while on tour, and following the disrespect shown to him by a few players, he did all this, or so it appeared, in an autocratic manner.

Leaders are there to lead, to "work" things out, and to find solutions. It's as simple as that.

Against that, however, despite siding with the "big three" - India, England, and Australia - and depending on foreigners to guide West Indies cricket back to its former glory, Cameron certainly tried his best to help West Indies cricket.

To his eternal credit, and despite the empty stands, Cameron introduced, for the second time, and kept it going, return matches in the four-day competition in an effort to get more first-class cricket for West Indians, and his tenure has seen an increase in the pay of West Indian cricketers, including first-class players and women players.

Cricket, however, is the business of the board. Cricket is played on the field, and West Indies first-class cricket, which was among the best, and the West Indies team, which was also once the best, are now suffering.

Although there are many reasons for it, the buck, as is commonly said, stops with the leader, or leaders.

West Indies cricket, despite better accommodation, age group competitions, return matches, and better pay for the players, has been getting worse and worse for the past 20 years or so, and with no end in sight.

There is an argument about changing times, more people getting opportunities, other interests, and things to do, but remembering that these things are happening in other countries, these excuses are just excuses.

In fairness to the board, or boards, they have tried everything possible to remedy the situation, or nearly everything.

There is more cricket, competitive cricket, today than at any other time in history: the regional four-day and 50-over tournaments, the Caribbean Premier League, the different age-group tournaments, the franchise tournaments around the region, and on top of that, many more players are now being paid to play cricket.

Although the board is guilty for its general stewardship of West Indies cricket, it is not 100 per cent guilty for its performance on the field of play.

Cameron, and his colleagues, cannot and should not be expected to don pads, to bowl, and to field.

The performance of the West Indies team falls squarely on the shoulders of those who play, especially those who call themselves professionals but who, on so many, many occasions, perform like rank amateurs, making mistakes, simple mistakes, and the same mistakes, over and over again.

May be, however, a part of the problem of West Indies cricket is the men chosen as selectors.

The impression is that selectors are selecting "young" players because they remember the selection of young and mostly untried players like Garry Sobers, Sonny Ramadhin, Alfred Valentine, and Michael Holding and company, their success, and would like to replicate their selection.

 

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

 

It is either that or they cannot spot talent, or they simply hope to go in the hat and find a special few. On top of that, in their haste to succeed, they probably cannot wait on the development process.

That is probably why they keep selecting young players, and why the powers that be keep talking about a "young" team when they should be talking about the West Indies team.

Probably they do not remember that international cricket calls for the best against the best and that West Indian fans want to be represented by their best players.

For whatever reason, the West Indies team these days seems to be made up of whoever is available.

The real problem with West Indies cricket today may also be the fact that West Indies cricket is in the hands of too many foreign administrators and foreign coaches.

On that topic, a look at the recent West Indies women's team may provide some answers to the problem.

Whenever I remember the brilliance of the women in the field, I remember who was the fielding coach of the women's team. I remember that he was Gus Logie. I remember that Logie was once one of the best fielders in one of the best West Indies teams, and I also heard that he had the ladies going through the fielding routine religiously every day.

Practice becomes perfect, and my hope is that the West Indies can get people like him, ex-West Indian cricketers who want to be administrators or coaches, send them to Australia or England, get them an Australian or English passport, fly them back to the West Indies, and employ them as administrators and coaches.

That may satisfy the cultural side of West Indians, the pride in their achievements over the years, their respect for their heroes, and their sense of national pride.

The West Indies problem, however, could well be that times have changed, and definitely, that champions are not born every day.

In 1966, however, when six West Indians appeared in the Rest of the World X1 at Lord's, and again after that, when they were still guided by West Indians and were champions of the world, it was happy times for West Indians.