A propensity to self destruct
The memory is not taxed severely to recall the disaster of a few years ago when the West Indies Cricket Board was faced with a rather recalcitrant bunch of players holding out at an airport in London en route to South Africa for what should have been an eminent showdown some opined would be a type of answer to the question of racial integrity in cricket. From what was understood at the time the players had two or three weeks earlier signed payment agreement for the tour. However, it occurred to them to back track in midair for more money. Extreme enormity of the whole thing was the board being reduced to a position of pathetic ransom whereby it collapsed to a stance of utter subservience from which nothing useful was gained - A very sound whipping was administered by South Africa to a sadly underperforming rabble that was their opposition.
Notwithstanding the magnificent eminence of Nelson Mandela writing imploringly to the players beseeching them to save the tour, it was my considered view that the board should have manifestly opted for the greater achievement of saving West Indies cricket from the clutches of creeping degradation. This failure has at long last pushed our cricket over the abyss to the point where any semblance of self respect will have difficulty in surfacing.
A team tottering in the danger of completely disappearing from the international Test ratings was last week able to summon the gall to abort from a tour of India after the fourth one day international match – clearly having shown no basic regard for the sport that has afforded them individually and collectively any semblance of potentially elevated credibility. Without the sport of cricket and without the passport of belonging to the West Indies team these boys are nothing, and it would seem the Indians may be wondering why they ever thought of cultivating them as salvageable material. India can easily do without the West Indies and can easily have other more reputable sides to contend with respectfully. When you come to think of it, the players were at variance, not with the West Indies Board but with their own players association! Can the ability to be ignoble transcend this? All good sense shouted out loudly for whatever differences existing between players and their bargaining body to have been settled, if not before the tour, then a resolution needing to take place later – the tour having already gotten well on the way.
It would seem to every level of absurdity there is a further degree of attainment available to the West Indies! On the field of play they are adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Off the field they find ways to desecrate the sport and embarrass the Caribbean as a people. This is not to say the players may not have had issues of discontent. But their mindless act of bringing disgrace upon themselves in so deplorable a manner before the eyes of the whole world forces any thinking person to label them a victim of a vacuum where education and enlightenment is concerned. These players are totally ignorant of what is good for them. They have trouble seeing beyond their noses!
Without undue digression, there has been evidence that the once famous singing group, the MERRYMEN out of Barbados, very early in their career embarked upon building of a hotel which, from all accounts, has proved successful. Makes me wonder whether any similar ambitions have crossed the minds of our West Indies cricketers past and present. Maybe the element of perverse insularity might preclude efforts in the hospitality business resulting in more than what folks in the River Street area of Roseau once termed "Hotel Degaghment", meaning a disastrously undisciplined and chaotic apology for a place of residence. However, what is to prevent a couple of players setting up an institution for training current players to a level of consolidated proficiency for elevated match performance?
Argument rushes at full speed: How are undisciplined individuals to inculcate such a thing as prime discipline in others? Very good question! The premise may arise from the very depths of perversity – of the nature of it taking a thief to catch a thief! West Indies are the height of exacerbation when it comes to logical thinking. However, the very presence of someone like Shivnarine Chanderpaul – not embroiled in the current fiasco – as an example of utmost level headedness, a methodical exponent of critical batting technique, one who has transcended in the world order, we ought to concede there is the germ of ultimate professionalism to be passed on to those needing it at the top or pursuant to reaching their zenith.
We bypass any inclination to deposit our trust in the so-called High Performance Centre. Not because of ingrained bias. An institution run by top players themselves, and established via their own funding, would be of the order of what existed in London several years ago – the Alf Gover School of Cricket. It worked in transforming the technique, not only of youngsters but also that of already established international cricketers. My living proof of this is none other than our own Lockhart Sebastien. His batting was transformed upwards by leaps and bounds at that institution and we are left in no uncertainty that Sebastien did not make it to international ranks only because of the preeminence of men like Roy Fredericks, Lawrence Rowe, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and similar illustrious icons. Present dearth at the top of the West Indies batting order emphasizes this as a stark reality. There is a penalty of sixty-seven million dollars payable to India. What a calamity!
Let's get back to the disease, leaving the cure alone for the time being. Inevitably, the board looks down upon the players as inferior mortals. The latter from the point of view of performance rationale and crowd appeal are a dubious commodity. This has been contributed to by the fact that around the year 2004 the board failed to make public the findings of its commission of inquiry on match fixing. We are told the findings were damning but were defused through unavailability of required witnesses to stand before the courts. The skeletons seemingly continue to jangle in the cupboards one way or another to this day. The subterfuge has not helped our cricket ever! The board is now tied hand and foot, amid a litter of players who should have long since been contracted on performance scales.