Sat | May 26, 2018

The real problem with WI cricket

Published:Sunday | March 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
Chris Gayle file


From as I long as I can remember, from the days when the people called for George Headley and then for Frank Worrell to be captain of the West Indies team, and from the days when Headley did not tour England in 1950 because of a disagreement over tour fee, West Indies cricket has had its fair share of difficulties.

The problems, however, were magnified, or reduced, by the fortunes of the West Indies team.

If the team was playing well, as they did between 1962 and 1968, and especially between 1976 and 1995, things were quickly forgotten or allowed to pass without much trouble, almost unnoticed.

If, however, the team was losing, as it is now, all hell tended to break loose, as is happening now, with people calling for Jamaica to go it alone, with the Jamaican prime minister flexing her muscles, and with West Indies Cricket Board members running around trying to mend fences.

Nothing before ever threatened the unity of West Indies cricket as the present impasse does, however, if only because the world is becoming more and more nationalistic; if only because the West Indies are losing - and the West Indies have one of their best players, a Jamaican - outside looking in; and if only because they have a captain who, according to many, cannot make the team and whose inclusion makes the team weaker.

And if only because the West Indies board president, its CEO, its event manager, along with the captain of the team come from St Lucia in the Windward Islands, and if only because Portia Simpson Miller, the prime minister of Jamaica, is a hands-on prime minister, a no-nonsense prime minister, and will fight for what she believes in.

Even if a rule of sport tells her that as a politician she must not get involved, she will, as the elected leader of the people, her people, get involved.

As much as the board seems to bear the brunt of everything, as much as it deserves to do so, however, the board is not always wrong, it is not always at fault, and it is not always the reason for the problems.

Sometimes, as I, and many of my colleagues, have found out while covering West Indies cricket for many years, the fault, some of it, some of the time, lies with the players.

unprofessional behaviour

Some of the players have behaved in a way not befitting West Indian representatives, some of them show disrespect to their captains, some of them shy away from training, and some of them commit all kinds of things, do all sorts of things contrary to behaviour in professional sports.

Many times, I personally feel that the West Indies board, its managers, its coaches, and its selectors are guilty if only for one reason: for attempting to sweep things under the carpet, for not coming clean, for not telling the media and the public the truth about some of the players, about some of their actions, and for not treating them accordingly.

I have known men, presidents, managers, coaches, and selectors, who when they were outside said what they would do if and when they get inside, but when they get inside they forgot what they had said when they were outside.

And they forget because of their insecurity. They fight for their players at the board level, and they cover up for their players in their own territories, simply because they want to be popular with their people.

West Indies cricket has problems because of the presence of so many of these people around West Indies cricket - people who cannot talk straight or who refuse to talk straight, people who make excuses for everything and for everybody, for their own people.

Right now, West Indies cricket is caught in a storm and is threatening to be blown apart because of the omission of Christopher Gayle, because of the absence of a Test match against Australia, and because of what is seen as a hurriedly scheduled match against New Zealand.

My question, however, based on information I have received, is this: is it fair to the West Indies board and to West Indies cricket?

using weather as an excuse

The JCA, through its president, a member of the board, said that the West Indies board had given the weather as a reason why Jamaica did not get a match for the Australian tour - giving the impression that the weather in Jamaica was the reason for denying Jamaica a match, and he also said that the first time he knew that Jamaica had got a match for the New Zealand tour was on the Monday after the prime minister's speech in which she criticised the board for its actions.

Is it not true, however, right or wrong, the board had decided that since it was two tours and because of the weather pattern in the Caribbean, and not because of the weather in Jamaica, it would play the Australian leg of the tours in the southern Caribbean and the New Zealand leg in the northern Caribbean in an effort to try and get the best weather for the two tours?

In other words, had it been the Australian tour alone, Jamaica would have got a match because it was not the weather in Jamaica that made that impossible.

I also heard from a few board members down the islands that when it was decided to move the Test match from Guyana, Dominica canvassed the board members, as is the custom, and Jamaica did not make a single move, except to vote.

And regarding the New Zealand match in Jamaica, is it not true that since last October, the West Indies Board has been in talks with a Jamaican events manager for a series of T20 matches between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, to mark the 50th Independence anniversary of the two countries, and that there was a move to include New Zealand in those talks as they would be playing in Jamaica?

The West Indies Cricket Board is blamed for everything in West Indies cricket, and although it cannot bat, or bowl, or field, or keep wicket, or even captain the team, as the head of West Indies cricket, it must take the blame for whatever happens to West Indies cricket.

The problems would be less, however, much less, if the cricket people, who elect its members to office, give the board a chance, if the public give the board a chance, if the cricket people use their influence to change them whenever the time comes, and if the board members speak the truth all the time, about the players and other things, and in a way that they can be understood by all.