Paul Wright | Interesting days ahead for West Indies cricket
The removal of the leadership tier of Cricket West Indies (CWI) seems to breathe a sense of relaxation among the most important people in cricket, the players. The sight of Alzarri Joseph taking wickets for only 12 runs in an important IPL match as well as the gay abandon of ace spinner Sunil Narine opening the innings in a match, and scoring a brisk 47 off only 25 balls, augurs well for our chances in international cricket this year.
No one realistically expects the West Indies to suddenly begin winning match after match, and winning trophies, but to know that your worth will be assessed only on your cricket ability and not how you bow and scrape to the president, must augur well for the future.
An interesting interview with the present coach of Bangladesh cricket, Phil Simmonds, revealed the blatant interfering of the previous president in the selection of teams and his aversion for anyone who does not smile and bow when he enters a room. The inclusion of West Indians in the management team of the cricketers has gained traction with the ‘rumour’ that Floyd Reifer is being considered for the post of head coach, and that a new (and independent) chairman of selectors will be named.
The Island nations that make up the West Indies cricket team wait anxiously for the meeting, scheduled this week of the new CWI board when (far-reaching) changes in how cricket in the region is managed are expected to be announced. There are other facets of cricket administration that should be looked at this week by the new president and board. The group responsible for the welfare of the cricketers of the region deserve special congratulations for their input in the increased and excellent remuneration for those who play cricket as a career. Our cricketers are now paid what they are worth, and the West Indies Players’ Association should be congratulated. But it remains a puzzle why a ‘union’ who negotiates well for remuneration becomes eerily silent when members are ostracised and sidelined for not standing at attention when the president enters a room and smiling when he passes by.
I am sure that this must have been known to the ‘union’, but nothing tangible happened, and a demoralised set of players showed the inconsistency that is usually manifested by inner turmoil.
Marlon Samuels and Phil Simmonds have so far shed some light on the toxicity between the players and the previous board and its leader. The future of West Indies cricket looks bright. That, however, does not mean that the new leaders have carte blanche to do as they please. What this new era means is that we, the fans and supporters of West Indies cricket, must never allow sport administrators to ride roughshod over the views of those whose support is vital for success. The players must be made comfortable and respected, and the fans and supporters must be made comfortable and respected. I look forward to more of us turning up at matches and offering tangible support to the initiatives of the new board. Go Windies!
The ‘Mattress Gate’ affair at Calabar that has escalated into the anti-Kingston College (KC) chant at devotion on the 1st of April has apparently been ‘settled’ by the apology of the school fraternity to KC at the KC Chapel some days later. ‘Oops!’ seems to be the preferred way forward as the powers that be behind the leadership at the school (board, Ministry of Education and the Baptist Union) try to move on. That is unacceptable. There is an urgent need for our children to be taught that irresponsible behaviour has consequences. There has to be more than ‘Oops!’ as a reasonable response to what happened at Calabar this month. We must not let this opportunity for a teachable moment go by without letting our children and, indeed, the nation understand that poor leadership decisions have serious consequences. ‘Oops!’ is just not an option.