IT is said so often that we, as a region, have come to believe that the two decidedly significant institutions holding the Caribbean Community (Caricom) together are West Indies Cricket and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
At the rate things are going, we might soon be down to one regional institution of critical importance -- the UWI -- as West Indies Cricket is threatening to lose its characteristic as part of the glue underpinning the unity, if it can be called such, of the Caribbean community.
The increasingly vociferous call among a section of the Jamaican society for the island to go it alone by seceding from the West Indies Cricket team and fielding a Jamaican team is not to be dismissed out of hand.
Frankly, we don't expect that this call will result in Jamaica pulling out of the regional cricket team and going it alone. We suspect that there is far much more going for a joint Caribbean team than for a single Jamaican side, and once the current furore over the treatment of Mr Chris Gayle is quietened, Jamaicans will again rally round the West Indies.
We suggest that the call be not dismissed out of hand because it is our belief that it may be pointing to an important shortcoming in the relationship shared by the various island nations which make up the community and the cricket team.
Jamaicans are increasingly of the view that they are at a disadvantage where it concerns decision-making in matters involving the community as a whole and in bilateral relations. More specifically, they are saying that we are feeling hard done by, without any obvious cause for the less than cordial treatment.
An important example is how angry Jamaicans became over the allegation of finger-raping last year of one of their compatriots at the Grantley Adams Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados. That matter is now before the Caribbean Court of Justice and we make no further comments at this time.
The current imbroglio over the treatment of Mr Gayle by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is being seen in that same light. We ourselves must admit that however justifed the board might feel about excluding a top-class cricketer like Mr Gayle from the team, the punishment does not appear to fit the crime. And the board risks the perception that the demand for an apology from the cricketer and the personal feelings of individuals are more important than the success of the West Indies Cricket team.
Moreover, the non-appearance of serious efforts to find a resolution to the matter is feeding into the view of some, who include non-Jamaicans, that nationality is a factor. If it is a matter of team discipline, then Mr Gayle should have been suspended for a reasonable period and be brought back to the game at the end of that period. We feel sure that by now the matter would have been resolved because enough time has passed.
For that reason, we share the disappointment of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller about the way the dispute has been handled by the WICB. It is also our hope that the pending apology by board president Mr Julian Hunte for the way an officer of the WICB responded to Mrs Simpson Miller's comments, will be accompanied by an announcement of the imminent return of Mr Gayle -- if for nothing else, but that he has 'served' enough time.