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Beckles misdiagnosis gets failing grade

BY ERROL W A TOWNSHEND

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Enough is enough!

Before I join the vast multitude who have given up on West Indies cricket, let me give it one last try.

Eminent scholar Sir Hilary Beckles posits the view — as published in the Sunday Observer of April 15, 2018 — that “the evidence of obvious failure emanates from the system of governance and accountability that has let down the community of cricketers and the wider society” in support of his argument that Caricom needs to intervene to restructure Cricket West Indies.

He is dead wrong.

He, and others, have repeatedly posited this misdiagnosis without in any way connecting the dots between his perceived flawed system of governance and nearly 25 years of dismal, on-field performance. If he did this on an exam he would get a failing grade.

Cricket West Indies is a sports body engaged in competitive sport. Ultimately it is judged by how many matches and how many competitions it wins. So let me posit an alternative but simpler analysis with which most readers may readily agree.

We keep losing because of six 'can'ts' — can't bat, can't bowl, can't field, can't captain, can't coach, can't select. This happens at the regional West Indies level as well as the local level.

Whether Cricket West Indies has a board of 12, 24, or is run as a one-man dictatorship will not in any way change the above. And the most recent report by our regional wise men on restructuring — one calling for Cricket West Indies' dissolution without specifying what would replace it — was an embarrassment.

We have contributed “scatter” to the lexicon of field placing. As Michael Holding said after the 2015 World Cup failure, we do not play intelligent cricket. Former head selector, Clive Lloyd said he didn't pick Dwayne Bravo or Keiron Pollard, not because of any off-field matters, but because, “We thought we had too many all-rounders.” Our entire cricket community, like disciples of Reverend Jim Jones, has been imbibing the “fast bowlers kool-aid” for 25 years, boosting mediocre fast bowlers who can't bowl teams out and can't bat (eg, Shannon Gabriel), forgetting Sir Gary Sobers' dictum that, “Cricket is runs and runs is cricket.”

We fail to appreciate the value of a top-class captain, which is why Tamar Lambert was never even considered, and Ramnaresh Sarwan and Daren Ganga given short stints.We don't even know what a good cricket coach looks like, which is why we keep hiring bad ones (Bennett King), and why good ones (Roger Harper) are in limbo.

The list of on-field failures could fill a book. But I close with one that readers can see on television game after game: No seating plan! What does this have to do with winning? Just look at the seating plans of the Government and Opposition in Gordon House, or football coaches with their squads on the bench, or baseball coaches in the dugout. There, leaders can communicate effectively with their players throughout the game. Then look at every West Indies team for the past 20 years or so. Players and coaches sitting any and everywhere during a game, as if they are not on speaking terms; a manager nowhere in sight.

Beckles and our other eminent public figures need to focus on those simple things before they worry about governance.

ewat@rogers.com

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