Hoping for the best against Australia

Saturday, March 10, 2012

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West Indians have had to contend with so much off-the-field 'cricket politics' in recent years, they should be forgiven if they begin to feel that the actual on-the-field activity is somehow secondary.

Yet, whether we are in the right frame of mind or not, West Indies will play host to always powerful Australia over the next several weeks.

The first of five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) will be played in St Vincent next Friday. The ODIs will be followed by two twenty/20 internationals and three Test matches.

Already constrained by an amateur environment and sub-standard facilities, the West Indies team has had to contend in recent years with distractions caused by bitter feuding between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the players' union, West Indies Players' Association.

And as was the case in the 2011 Digicel-sponsored home series, former captain and inspirational batsman Mr Chris Gayle is not considered for selection, first and foremost because of a quarrel between the player, team management and the WICB. It's worth bearing in mind that injury to Mr Gayle and his commitments to cash-rich twenty/20 professional leagues mean he probably would not have been available for selection in any case.

The Jamaican Government and the Jamaica Cricket Association have now become publicly embroiled in the Gayle issue and are also at odds with the WICB over the unprecedented non-inclusion of Jamaica as a venue for a Test match during the Australian tour.

To add to the volatile mix there is a crisis in Guyana's cricket involving a feud between the Guyana Cricket Association and the Guyana Government. The WICB and the global governing body for cricket, the ICC, have taken sides with the Guyana Cricket Association.

As an outflow of that quarrel, a Test match originally scheduled for Guyana during the Australia tour has been taken away; Guyana's home games during the ongoing regional domestic first class tournament have been shifted elsewhere, and in the latest development the executive of that country's association has resigned.

West Indies cricket has had many grave difficulties down the years, but rarely has the situation been as bad as this.

Those who will take the field against Australia starting next Friday under the leadership of Mr Darren Sammy must blot out these distractions if they are to do well.

The frustrating aspect for those of us who continue to follow the on-the-field performances of regional cricketers is that there is wonderful talent available which, if harnessed and properly focused, would present a daunting challenge for any foe.

Only recently the highly respected former Australian captain Mr Steve Waugh made that exact point.

As always hope springs eternal. This newspaper hopes and trusts that the West Indies players will find the strength and fortitude to deliver of their very best, even if they do not win. We wish them well.




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