Will West Indies ever regain winning habit?
Maybe there's hope after all for the miserable, battle-weary West Indies cricket team. Last week the West Indies fast bowlers blew away the Pakistani's in the second innings of the second test match at Bridgetown, Barbados and in the process they set up a potentially exciting finale at the Windsor Park in Roseau.
That indeed will a feast for the cricket fans here who have been literally starved of quality cricket. We are sure that the usually boisterous fans will provide extra wind in the sails of the West Indies team.
Because the West Indies need to start winning consistently if the West Indies Cricket Board is keep the politicians in CARICOM off their backs. You may have observed that lately there is some strange silence between the board and CARICOM since that period when the WICB had unceremoniously booted out Coach Phillip Simmons. That decision was described by Grenada's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell "as bizarre and motivated by spite and vendetta."
"The Board has now become an extremely inflexible and autocratic unit in which power and control dominate. Cricket development and cricket performance appear to be low on the Board's list of most important priorities," said Dr. Mitchell in the article in a Guyanese newspaper.
As the former prime minister, responsible for the development of cricket at the CARICOM level, Dr Mitchell knew what he was talking about because he has had a front seat in that reality-defying environment where there have been too many showings of the WICB as a strange beast that ostensibly promotes Caribbean cricket but inexplicably seem to destroy it at the same time. So, according to Mitchell, it's all about power and revenge.
We submit that the WICB has been one of the strangest organisations. How else can you describe an institution that fires the West Indies T20 cricket captain, Darren Sammy during a 30-second phone call? What type of organisation fires a man who six months ago led your team to a sensational win of the prestigious T20 World Cup with just a half-a-minute phone call? Another prime minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, described the WICB's decision to fire Sammy as "shabby" and "unacceptable" and a "display of breath-taking insensitivity."
But Dr. Gonsalves may have overlooked the fact that Sammy had it coming to him because he thoroughly embarrassed the WICB during the awards ceremony after the World Cup final in India. If Dr. Mitchel's analysis of the WICB was correct, that this group is motivated by vindictiveness and spite, then Sammy's firing was a foregone conclusion after his outburst in India. By the same token, Dwayne Bravo, after the extreme embarrassment of abandoning the tour of India should have expected the WICB to strike back sometime despite CARICOM's ineffective intervention. The WICB obviously does not forget or forgive such transgressions easily.
In an attempt at explaining Simmons departure the WICB said Simmons' vision for the development of West Indies Cricket and that of the WICB did not align. So what happened when Simmons was interviewed for the post 18 months ago, did someone ask him about his vision for the West Indies team and did it align? Even if that assessment by the WICB is correct, we believe that Simmons ultimately paid for his statements to the press about the perceived interference, by persons un-named, in the selection of the West Indies cricket team.
Don't forget that over the past few months the WICB also fired the legendary Curtly Ambrose ostensibly over the quality of his couching of the bowlers on the West Indies team. Ambrose, it appears, heard that he was fired in the press.
But while the WICB and its staff squabble, the rest of the cricket world are having a field day belittling the once-mighty West Indies, a team that has now languishes near the bottom of the ranking of Test playing nations. Calling the governance structure of the WICB "antiquated", "obsolete" and "anachronistic", the CARICOM cricket review panel, made up of V. Eudine Barriteau, Sir Dennis Byron, Dwain Gill, Deryck Murray and Warren Smith has recommended the WICB be dissolved and all current members resign. The panel also recommended that the WICB be replaced by an interim board. But as the WICB continues resisting the proposed change many cricket fans have concluded that always-divided-CARICOM has failed on that issue as well.
Undoubtedly, cricket observers place the blame for the current cricket mess on the shoulders of the current and past presidents of the West Indies Cricket Board as well as on the head of ill-disciplined and arrogant cricketers.
But someone should advise the WICB and its employees in the current and inevitable future conflicts that they are tampering with much more than the sport of cricket. We should remind them that C.L.R James, the West Indian philosopher, has eloquently argued that cricketers and administrators of cricket are ignorant of the history of the region if they believe cricket is merely the hitting of a hard red or white ball with a piece of wood. "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" James asked in Beyond a Boundary, one of the most important books written by a West Indian on the social history of the region.
To commemorate the Test match between the West Indies and Pakistan teams, the Sun has produced a comprehensive list of cricket features that we published in this issue and in the previous issue of the SUN. We hope cricket fans enjoyed them.