Work not a dirty word
Specific reference to cricket in Dominica seems only to conjure up images of the past that is among the more mature lovers of the sport. There was a time when there was much concern about our national team maintaining its leadership in Windward Islands circles – and consequent preeminence in the joint Windwards – Leewards unit. Surprisingly, with the separation of the two subunits, Dominica has not taken the logical course of advancing exponentially along a positive growth sequence. We have struggled to get by as competitive in recent Windwards tournaments and have dropped dramatically – more exactly we have lost our place as the leading light in the sub-region to the extent that we arecontent with a measly lowered quota in team places.
The position will not change unless there is a radical alteration in our thinking as to the place we seek to occupy, firstly, in Windwards cricket, and, secondly, in West Indies cricket. It must be predicated upon a well structured analysis of the situation, followed by a qualitative approach to addressing remedial requirements.
There is no cricket without players and no quality cricket without quality performers – a straightforward premise. Where must we start in the process of remedying the situation? It was somewhat laughable about twenty years ago when the Dominica Cricket Association intimated an approach to the public, enquiring about the availability of youngsters likely to develop into fast bowlers! It was as if a school principal or this or that housewife might call up in response, and "presto" a talented youngster would be served up in answer to such advertisement! Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as that. There is less romance to the undertaking and much more old fashioned hard work.
Given the present state of affairs, we should not have a shortage of likely youngsters as material to be worked with for transformation into solid stars of the near future. However, the envied luxury of attracting prime physical specimens standing as tall as six foot six inches to serve as fast bowlers must await the course of due development. This is so despite the frequent incidence of young giants – both male and female – appearing in our national festivities for independence and carnival etc. For some unknown reason the blessing of ample physical size does not readily equate with a readiness to be active in sports.
We now have the picture, more likely in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. What then are the missing pieces? Work, of course is one! We have the cricket league stretching from the schools up to the senior divisions. We have cricket academies by Sharon Gregoire, Hasselt Williams and others. Why aren't we fashioning the transformation and transition of our youngsters into the prime finished products capable and ready to launch themselves successfully into the West Indies team?
All the material to be moulded is there, and can be moulded at the hands of the available resource persons – so often marginalized into a misplaced piece in the jigsaw. There is a tendency to lean in favour of foreigners to provide tuition for local players – ignoring indigenous expertise. This is nothing more than tragic and the consequences have been all too clear.
Another policy requirement has to do with infrastructure. A look at the arrangement with the national stadium at Arnos Vale, in St. Vincent reveals an ancillary playingfield immediately next door. This configuration, if applied to Windsor Park, could serve handsomely as a nursery for the further development of our youngsters in several areas of sport. The area contiguous to our national stadium has been cleared at least once but nothing more has transpired in the direction suitable towards helping to produce the finished products desired in our cricket etc. The site is eminent for development into a plethora of cricket nets and training pitches etc.
Bring it all on. Bring on a large vinyl tent accommodating a favourably shaded area to mitigate the worst effects of global warming and we have a workplace akin to a flourishing factory productive of class players. To all this can be applied the assistance of video accessories etc. There is a tendency to sell ourselves short, putting ourselves in light of general incapacity. This is silly. It just requires for us to lift ourselves by our bootstraps, as they say. First, though, we must have a vision and must be willing to go for it and without apology. Our talented youth can be imbued with acceptance of their cricketing progress as a civic responsibility from which they and others can benefit immensely. Work must elevate to a sacred word.