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Revolutionary intervention needed for Windies cricket

Sunday, January 3, 2016

There has to be a revolutionary intervention by the cricket community of the West Indies to save our cricket from total destruction and an ignominious end. Already, West Indies are keeping company at the bottom of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) ladder with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

The revolution required must be stirred into existence by journalists, patriots and governments that care and see the value in the West Indian tradition in cricket. All of us involved in this journey to reclaim a tradition must appreciate that cricket is the only area of international activity in which the West Indian society has led the world.

We must understand, too, that the leadership has not only been as the number one team for 15 years—perhaps the greatest ever display of team superiority—but leader in innovation, in fair play, in spirit, and that particular brand of West Indian joie de vivre that touches the soul and spirit of fans. The West Indies have also provided the world of cricket with a dozen and more of the greatest players. 

What makes the revolutionary intervention the most important issue of the moment is that the problems of West Indies cricket and the solutions have been detailed in reports of the PJ Patterson team, in the Charles Wilkin document, and most recently by the distinguished group established by Caricom prime ministers. 

The issue now is how to replace the present West Indies board which has indicated its intention to stay in place, remain irrelevant and arrogant, dismissive, and intent on leading our cricket and cricketers to destruction and irrelevance in world cricket.

West Indian pride must be provoked into resurgence as the team, the players, the administration and West Indian society are constantly mocked and made fun of by commentators in print, and in the live telecasts of international cricket. 

As I have advocated in two previous columns, the problems which attend West Indies cricket are buried deep in the cultural degeneracy of West Indian society. The weaknesses exposed on the field have to do with a lack of character, the incapacity of young players to approach situations with mental strength, their inability to carry out a strategy; to develop strategic approaches to the game and their efforts on the field; their tendency to “bling” and now-for-now living are traits and dispositions buried deep in the West Indian society and the West Indian of today. 

The reports mentioned contain proposals on the needed transformation of the administrative structures, board-player relationships, how boards are elected and the selection of coaches and managers. There are also recommendations in the reports for the interaction of national boards with the regional board. The establishment of a modern and permanent cricket academy must be part of the structure for transformation. A professionally organised board with expert officials in place is a must, states the report of the Caricom-appointed team. The central involvement in a structured manner of great West Indian players in a programme to train and conscientise young players is a particularly vital requirement.

We have to break the colonial habit of always seeking to have others do for us what we must do for ourselves. 

The board and team management cannot continue to send young players onto the cricket field to represent the West Indies without knowing of their historical responsibility to uphold the great West Indian tradition.

But revolutionary change has not and will not come by wishing it into existence. President of the WICB, Dave Cameron has rebuffed the attempts of Caricom prime ministers to intervene. In reality, the board has treated the prime ministers with contempt. There is now no higher institutional authority which can remove the board from its throne of ignorance and destruction. Only revolutionary action by the supporters, nay, the originators of West Indian cricket will do the job. 

When the first representative West Indian team was leaving for England without Lebrun Constantine (the father of Learie), ostensibly on the basis that there was no money for Lebrun to make the trip, the people intervened, paid his passage and the necessary other costs, assembled him on the Port-of-Spain wharf and put him aboard the steam ship.

When time was long overdue for a black man to lead the West Indies to break the myth of the incapacity of the black man to lead, revolutionary thinker CLR James led the way in articulating and agitating the case for Frank Worrell as captain. Change in the old colonial board was made when the outcry resonated across the region. It was Clive Lloyd and his team (1980s) who confronted the West Indian board with their status as professionals and caused change in on-field and off-field approaches to the game.

Now that the structure and functioning of the board—not just the personnel—have to be transformed, the revolutionary impulse must come from a group of conscious West Indians. 

One view has it that West Indian cricket administrators and people must go cap-in-hand to ask the ICC to “please do the work of transformation for us that we as colonials are not able to do for ourselves.”

To do that would be tantamount to calling back the colonial authorities. Transformation must start and end with revolutionary action by the West Indian cricket fraternity. 


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