Dis eh no sport, dis is cricket
Published: Friday | September 4, 2009
Let's face it. It is most unlikely that the changes that are so obviously needed in the administration of cricket in the Caribbean will come easily.
Let us remember our history. Errol John's classic West Indian play, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, reminds us most poignantly of the early days of our cricket when, among other indignities, black cricketers on West Indian touring teams were made to stay in different, cheaper hotels than their white teammates and management. We should also remember that it was not so long ago that a West Indies board finally relented and made a black man captain of our team that, at one time, Steve Camacho, was being groomed by some for captaincy mainly because he 'looked the part'.
Let us remember that Frank Worrell, in an era when racism was rampant and blatant, showed that a team of Afro- and Indo-Caribbean men, led by a black man, could defeat England herself at the 'gentleman's game' - a game the English themselves had invented and which, by their own account, required intellectual skill and strength of character to master.
Instances of arrogance
Even in our more recent history, we are replete with instances of the arrogance of boards that have treated players badly, sparing little thought to the contributions they have made to the building of our national [Caribbean] psyche. Treating them as if they were dispensable commodities, they left not a few with a bitter taste in the mouth. And all this time, while all we did was produce a video, 'Playing Cricket the West Indian Way', the other countries devised systems where they could nurture and develop talent, administer the game efficiently and market the product effectively.
And now we want the board to make fundamental changes which would, among other things, lead to it almost 'dissolving itself'. Now power is very seductive. To step down and relinquish power is very difficult, especially when one has worked assiduously to attain that position of power. By the time one does so, one's perspective has often changed so that you see things from the position of those who share power with you and those who have gone before. You can, as a result, become blinkered to what is obvious to those at the lower rungs of the ladder.
The WICB response to the Patterson Report can be used as a case study for the thesis I present. The board consists of intelligent men, dedicated and well intentioned. Yet the 'blinkers of power' has led to the situation where they seem to be the only ones who cannot see that the report stated that a major priority was a complete restructuring of the board and a new attitude to governance where West Indies cricket is concerned. You see, if this happened, many who now sit on the Board and wield power in West Indies cricket would no longer do so.
Suggestion of failure
To them, this cannot be. It is unacceptable, unthinkable!
The other reason for their reluctance to accept the reality that stares them in the face is that, to do so, would suggest that they have failed and that their poor management is partly responsible for the decline in the fortunes of our cricket. This they cannot accept. They know that they are competent men. So the problem has to be the players, or the lack of finance, or something else. They have to believe that if given a chance, if supported in their efforts, they will lead us back to the top of the cricket world.
But the present problem is not the doing of the present board. It was long in coming. Decades of mismanagement, lack of intelligent leadership, disrespect for players are coming home to roost. As the game got more scientific, as sports management itself became a science, we in the Caribbean fiddled around because we could not find the political will to accept that cricket in the Caribbean went 'Beyond the Boundary' and needed a radical overhaul.
They will not accept the basic recommendation of this report and overhaul the management of West Indies cricket. We need our elected representatives to act decisively, using the authority we have given them, to find a way to dismantle the board and put the recommended structure in place.
As a character in a poem by Barbadian writer Ed Brathwaite's says, "Dis eh no sport, no joke business, dis is cricket!"
Keith Noel is an educator. Feedback may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.