My take on Windies cricket – Part 2
I confess that I do not know much about the curriculum of the West Indies Academy. In a recent CG United Super50 Cup match, I watched the Academy play against the Jamaica Scorpions. I was impressed with the wealth of talent, determination, team spirit, execution of the plan, captaincy, fitness, consistency in batting, bowling and shot selection of their team.
The Jamaica Scorpions, consisting mostly of experienced players and representatives of the region at the Test level, except for their captain, Rovman Powell, were nonchalant, lackadaisical and uncaring in their approach and, quite deservedly, lost the game. In my view, they felt that they had already arrived and need not try to play the game the way it ought to be played. This is an example of the poor attitude that plagues West Indies cricket today. We must make the effort to ensure displays of the Academy transition to our three formats at the higher levels and that those players are not contaminated by the rut that presently exists among many senior players.
While on that note, inculcating the relevance of cricket into the minds of our representatives is of critical importance. This, I think, is the business of the Academy. They must be taught Caribbean history, the history of cricket and why it means so much to our people (regionally and in the diaspora) and culture, the hardships, sacrifices and triumphs of earlier West Indies cricketers, financial management, the value of teamwork, personal and civic responsibilities, communications (the ability to speak properly in the public space), performing under stressful conditions, dress and deportment on and off the field. (I am yet to understand the preponderance of ‘heavy metal chains’ that adorn necks while on the field).
Education is the key to everything in life today; it’s no different in cricket. If the right talents are to be attracted and maintained, then the governing board should make provisions for persons to come up through the high-school system and be able to access tertiary education, where desired. The primary and high-school systems are the feeding grounds for the sport. There must be appropriate curricula, developed by the board, that speaks to the achievements required of individuals before they can represent the West Indies at any level.
The game must be properly administered. It cannot survive with some who feel they are above the dictates of the governing body and appropriate systems in place. There must be a code of discipline that not only seeks to hold players accountable but is fair in its dispensation, while being intolerant of poor performance, poor behaviours, a lack of fitness and the inability to conform to what is required. There must be meaningful penalties in the management of this game like any other.
A sense of pride and patriotism is urgently needed among all stakeholders. No individual should be allowed to play any franchise without the expressed permission of the West Indies board. Persons representing the region must put the region before themselves. Money cannot be seen as the be-all and end-all of everything. This serves only to distort the value system of future players of the game.
The selection of board members has been a troublesome area over the years. It seems to me that the methodology is not all together one that is regarded as just or geared to ensure that the best people are put forward to serve. We are not a vast region but a very proud one and as tradition would have it, it appears that every cricket-playing nation wants to have, and as far as is possible is made to have, a place on the board. We must determine that, if by doing so, we are putting our best up for service in the interest of the game. I don’t think so, but I remind you, I am not the expert on these matters.
I urge the powers that be, however, to take a hard look at this aspect of the games governance and ensure that in 2023 they constitute a board capable of transforming the current debacle into something we can all be proud of as a Caribbean people.
Phil Simmonds, the Windies coach, leaves us at the end of the Test series in Australia which started on Tuesday. His tenure reminded us, at times, of what we can achieve. In my opinion, it’s time for the board to adopt a no-nonsense approach in the preparation and selection of players to represent our game. I am convinced that we now need a coaching staff made up of sterner material in order to demand and get the best out of the wide variety of talent, displayed over time, but is just not being harnessed on a consistent enough basis.
The board needs someone the likes of Sir Clive Lloyd or Sir Vivian Richards from the region, or, if they see fit to source overseas, then the persons that readily come to mind are Ricky Ponting of Australia and M.S. Dhoni of India. The Caribbean is in dire need of something to unify the region and cricket remains the only acceptable means of doing so, this is my take on the matter.