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Bringing shame on this noble tradition

Published: 
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shame! Shame! Shame! The West Indies players who slunk out of the back door of the tour of India have heaped shame and disgrace on the glorious tradition of West Indies cricket. 

Sharing in the ignominy are the West Indies Players Association and the West Indies Cricket Board. 

Collectively, they have succeeded in bringing the people of this great cricketing nation, the galaxy of cricketing greats from Challenor, Headley and Constantine, the 3Ws, Ramadhin and Valentine, Sobers, Kanhai, Hall and Griffith, Gibbs, Lloyd, Richards, the long line of irresistible fast bowlers of the 1980s, and the 1970s and 1980s greatest cricketing teams of all times into disrepute.

The pull-out from the Indian tour is an escapade ten times worse than when Lara, Hooper and others staged a protest (1998-1999) in London and threatened not to go on to a free South Africa over a similar money dispute with the board. 

Through two decades of spinelessness, indisciplined and thoughtless cricket, greed for money, for which they only rarely performed with distinction, this generation of players has dented West Indian pride and made the team and the people of the West Indies the laughing stock of the cricketing world. 

Already on the margins of the international tour schedule, thanks to the lack of consistency and quality displays on the field, the WI should not be surprised if the likes of South Africa, England, Australia and of course India in future are reluctant to engage the WI in tour arrangements.

Already the secretary of the Indian board, Sanjay Patel, has said that it would be “very difficult to play West Indies in bilateral series in future. They have to demonstrate the willingness that such situations never happen again. I would say that India’s next tour of West Indies is highly unlikely to go ahead in the current situation.” 

As they have done so consistently on the field, the players demonstrated little critical and analytical thinking in taking the decision to leave India.

Did anyone consider that this is India, the financial capital of world cricket today; that this is the home of the Indian Premier League—in which many of us have million-dollar contracts; that other boards around the cricketing world would be taking note of this behaviour, and this in the context of commitments to sponsors who put hundreds of millions of dollars into the game; that pulling out of the tour would leave hundreds of millions of cricket fanatics across India high and dry; and that what they are dealing with is a West Indian tradition in cricket going back to 1928, to which they have contributed little that is positive? Did anyone exercise his mind?

So too the fast-talking, jacket-wearing bureaucrats in the WICB and WIPA are guilty without reprieve for the degradation of this noble tradition which brought us out of the canefields and put the islands of the West Indies and our people on the international map of respectable nations. 

Once upon a time we blamed the white colonial establishment for the arrogance, incompetence and doh-care-damn attitude of the players. Well, the likes of Stollmeyer, Captain Short, Errol Dos Santos and others of that ilk have long withdrawn or been pushed out from the administration of the game.

After being petitioned by the captain and players, a proactive board would have discerned the danger and taken a team inclusive of the WIPA executive to have an eye-to-eye conversation with Bravo and his men. 

It would not have solved the problem, but it would have demonstrated care and concern for the players and could have bought time for talking and negotiating after the tour. 

Instead, board chairman Dave Cameron operated like the old colonial governor issuing a dismissive edict and mamaguy talk about playing through the series and picking up their grievances later.

WIPA president Wavell Hinds acted not like a trade union leader but like an employer, talking loftily about rights instead of consulting with the players. 

Working out the problems of the immediate future, the three groups must now contemplate how they are to engage each other to meet their commitment to the South African tour and the World Cup in early 2015. 

My gut reaction is to say that all three groups should be made to leave West Indies cricket now, never to return. But that leaves our cricket with the culture bereft of a solution because surely the already established way of proceeding will continue.

Professional assistance to find workable solutions to the problems of today and the immediate future in WI cricket seems a more potentially-rewarding exercise.

WICB, WIPA and the players have exposed the region and its people to the cynicism which segments of the cricketing world have of our people and region: “Brain-dead calypso cricketers”; “players and a people incapable of strategic thinking,” etc.

Sure, Cricket Australia, the BCCI and the English board have serious disagreements with their players over a range of matters, but they usually demonstrate a mature capacity to arrive at solutions and to avoid descent into this horrid display before the watching world.

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