Cricket But Captain, this West Indies ship is sinking

Cricket

A re­al­ly sad day for West In­dies crick­et! Nev­er in my wildest dreams would I think Ire­land would de­feat the West In­dies, in any form of crick­et, let alone white-ball crick­et. Now, I know some pun­dits would say that last year, Ire­land lost a close se­ries to Eng­land by 2 games to 1 and Eng­land are ODI world cham­pi­ons. I know some pun­dits would al­so say they drew 1-1 with South Africa but a month be­fore that, they lost to the Nether­lands by 2-1. In ad­di­tion, some would al­so say that West In­dies were miss­ing some key play­ers that would have made a dif­fer­ence. Re­al­ly?

With Evin Lewis bat­ting at the top of the or­der, Shim­ron Het­my­er at num­ber 3, and any­one else that would make a dif­fer­ence from turn­ing a los­ing team in­to a win­ning unit? I hon­est­ly have my doubts about the way the West In­dies per­formed and on­ly Sobers, Lara and Richards would have made a dif­fer­ence. Per­haps stu­pid­ly, af­ter the first game, I pre­dict­ed the men from the Caribbean would im­prove and take the se­ries com­fort­ably by win­ning all the games. In the end, they looked like a bunch of am­a­teurs while the Irish looked like play­ers that are in de­mand all over the world play­ing in the lim­it­ed ver­sions of the game.

Now, I be­lieve the play­ers were giv­ing their all and try­ing to win the games but to put it sim­ply – the West In­dies were just not good enough. The bat­ting con­tin­ues to be mediocre at best and just as the West In­dies have stopped pro­duc­ing fast bowlers one af­ter the oth­er since the ’60s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the line of qual­i­ty bats­men have al­so fall­en away bad­ly over the last few years.

The time for talk has end­ed and it is time Crick­et West In­dies (CWI) starts to show some mus­cle and de­mands qual­i­ty play­ers from their re­gion­al boards who can trans­form them in­to West In­dies play­ers. It is not go­ing to hap­pen next week but the wheels should have al­ready start­ed to roll. For some bizarre rea­son, the think­ing is that the re­gion has good, ex­cit­ing play­ers that will sud­den­ly come good and click, but it just doesn’t work like that. It is the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of the re­gion­al boards to pre­pare prop­er pro­grammes and fol­low through on them. I can’t speak for oth­er re­gion­al boards but I re­mem­ber when Trinidad & To­ba­go was go­ing through the most suc­cess­ful pe­ri­od of crick­et in this coun­try from 2005 to 2009, there were many de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes in place. There was the star pro­gramme where one coach was as­signed to every sec­ondary school in Trinidad & To­ba­go. The East­er Bun­ny Crick­et Coach­ing Pro­gramme for chil­dren aged 7 to 13; the Un­der-10 Pri­ma­ry Schools Pro­gramme; the Youth De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme for teenagers aged 13 to 15 years. There were 8 high-per­for­mance cen­tres for se­lect­ed Un­der-17 crick­eters in Trinidad in sev­en zones and one in To­ba­go. Six­teen boys were at­tached to each cen­tre. There were live-in camps that were con­duct­ed over 9 week­ends. There were de­vel­op­ment tours for na­tion­al pri­ma­ry schools boys and girls. Oth­er tours in­clud­ed Un­der-13 right up to Un­der-17, even an Un­der-23 tour to South Africa. As you can see, I am go­ing back 12 to 14 years and un­for­tu­nate­ly, we have not pro­gressed with the prop­er de­vel­op­ment of our young crick­eters and get­ting them ready for in­ter­na­tion­al crick­et.

Quite frankly, I wish the Trinidad & To­ba­go Crick­et Board (TTCB) would in­form the crick­et-lov­ing pub­lic what de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes they have in place from pri­ma­ry schools right up to un­der-19 lev­el or do they leave it in the hands of the clubs to do the de­vel­op­ment of play­ers? I am point­ing fin­gers here at the T&TCB but re­al­ly and tru­ly, this has to be for all re­gion­al boards be­cause there is no point if the T&TCB does some­thing in iso­la­tion and the oth­er re­gion­al boards are not do­ing sim­i­lar types of de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

It is the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of CWI to meet and sit with all the re­gion­al boards and de­cide where West In­dies crick­et will go from here be­cause you don’t need a rock­et sci­ence de­gree to un­der­stand and ac­cept that re­gion­al crick­et is go­ing nowhere fast. The tech­nique of bats­men is no longer there. Bats­men do not move their feet and get be­hind the ball. No one seems able to ne­go­ti­ate the swing­ing or the turn­ing ball. I can go on and on, but un­less the pow­ers that be sit down quick­ly and de­cide where West In­dies crick­et is go­ing, they will con­tin­ue to lan­guish at the bot­tom of the rank­ings in all for­mats of the game.

What is Aus­tralia, In­dia even New Zealand do­ing that the West In­dies is not? Aus­tralia is de­vel­op­ing play­ers, es­pe­cial­ly fast bowlers, on a dai­ly ba­sis. Why isn’t the West In­dies? The West In­dies were once graced with the great­est fast bowlers the world has ever seen and they were the en­vy of every test play­ing coun­try. The ICC changed rules to com­bat the fast bowlers be­cause bats­men could not stand up to the bar­rage of short-pitch bowl­ing and one by one, they were con­quered. Bats­men of qual­i­ty were be­ing pro­duced at the re­gion­al lev­el, now it seems that bats­men of qual­i­ty are com­ing from the sub­con­ti­nent. These coun­tries must be do­ing some­thing right and just as how the oth­er coun­tries learned from the West In­dies in the hal­cy­on days, maybe it is time for the West In­dies to learn how these coun­tries are rolling off qual­i­ty bowlers and bats­men.

Come on, CWI ex­ec­u­tive, it is time for ac­tion. Do what you have to do to save West In­dies crick­et. The fans in the re­gion are cry­ing. They are turn­ing their backs on crick­et. The play­ers need help, the coach­es need help, the ter­ri­to­r­i­al boards need help. It is time to pull all the re­sources to­geth­er and do what is nec­es­sary to get West In­dies crick­et out of this hole that is widen­ing. Step on toes if you have to; for­get about the ob­vi­ous pol­i­tics that is killing West In­dies crick­et; for­get who will give you a vote at the next AGM and who will not give you their vote be­cause you went against them. At the end of the day, no mat­ter what, you would have made an at­tempt to fix West In­dies crick­et and no one can fault you for that and when you do leave, you leave with your head held high that you did your best for West In­dies crick­et. Mean­while, Cap­tain, the ship is sink­ing.

Ed­i­tor’s note: The views ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are sole­ly those of the au­thor and do not re­flect the views of any or­gan­i­sa­tion of which he is a stake­hold­er.

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