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West Indies cricket — in the second tier

BY PHILIP AYOUNG-CHEE

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

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West Indies cricket is heading to a world rating second-tier level in Test and One-Day cricket. And it cannot be presently saved unless the present administrators vacate office and allow alternative management, which may or may not change the status. But it is worth a try.

The present administrators voted all of themselves back into office for a few more years, despite the continued decline in all aspects of the game. Those who are really interested and passionate about themselves would have declined and allowed others to become involved to bring about change and improvement. But this is not a surprise, as the International Cricket Council (ICC) voted to give Cricket West Indies the sum of US$132 million over the period 2016-2023. Who will walk away and not indulge in the expenditure of such sums of money?

But at the end of the day something must be done and, at the very least, West Indies Cricket Board President Dave Cameron should have been removed. He has been in the centre of most problems and, in my view, has totally lost the confidence of almost all individuals with an interest in West Indies cricket.

The resulting chaos have resulted in numerous comments that are not in the interest of West Indies cricket. One prime minister has remained supportive in the hope of favoured matches in his territory — and it appears that his country is favoured. Almost all others have voiced concern and are demanding change.

However, Caricom and their prime ministers have numerous methods of bringing about change. Their local cricket bodies all require governmental support, especially financially. The hosting of international matches require a governmental guarantee. In other words, the local bodies require governmental support of all forms and fashions. Therefore if all governments withhold such support and demand change, change will have to take place. There is no way whereby one territory will be able to provide the necessary support. This will result in accusations of political interference, but at this time worse has already taken place and the hope of better is an option.

The suspension of Darren Bravo should have ended long before it did. Cricket West Indies cannot be demanding the sky from Darren Bravo when Dave Cameron is equally as guilty, and worse. Cricket is supposed to be a gentleman's game and all sides should express a “platonic and political apology” and move on. Further, Cricket West Indies should pay more attention to the actions and activities of Dave Cameron, first and foremost.

The issue of contracts must be addressed in a transparent manner and a level “D” should be introduced. At present, no cricketer is deserving of an “A” level contract. One or two may deserve a “B” level contract — Darren Bravo, Kraig Brathwaite. Some will get a “C” level contract — Roston Chase, Holder, Shannon Gabriel. The majority should get a “D” level contract — an additional level.

There has been many expressions of concern about non-participation in regional tournaments and selection. Is there any selector who is willing to choose a player who has not performed or shown their level of performance in the One-Day or four-day/Test level? Many of the names being called have not played in any form of cricket other than T20 matches.

And, if the top players do not participate in the regional tournaments, standards are not going to improve. And if the top players are not going to participate in regional tournaments to gain selection to the West Indies team, why have a regional tournament?

Furthermore, each regional team should be allowed to have one or two non-West Indian players.

Then sport tourism may develop where a foreign team can set up base in one territory and thus play against each of the regional teams, for six consecutive weekends.

Therefore, the statement of Darren Sammy that players are not willing to forego participation in lucrative T20 tournaments when there is no guarantee of selection to the West Indies cricket team is an example of the low level of commentaries and distrust. Players have to perform to be selected. Poor performance is not a selection criterion. Neither is perceived pedigree.

The statement of Dwayne Bravo that foreign coaches and managers must understand the culture of the West Indian population, especially the laid-back attitude and the resistance to correction and similar matters, shows a lack of discipline and sportsmanship. All teams, in all sports have a structure that has to be respected, despite the quality of the player. This also included the United States “Dream Team” basketball team to Barcelona 1992 under Chuck Daly.

The fact that the West Indies Cricket Board did not take disciplinary action against players does not mean that their actions were acceptable. The failure of the players to return to the field after lunch, leaving the coach alone in the middle did warrant disciplinary action. The actions of the players with respect to the South African tour and the Indian tour warranted disciplinary action. And the failure to take such necessary action has resulted in the present state of West Indies cricket.

Women's football coach Carolina Morace was quite clear in her assessments. Unlike others who on reaching the steps of the landed aircraft praises the high standard of local football, she concluded that the level of fitness was poor and the standard of the skill level, except for individual dribbling, was not of international level. She further invited all local coaches to her training sessions. We, the people of the region, must open our eyes for improvement and not remain blinded with blinkers. Say things as they are — no pretending, no sugar-coating.

The lack of qualification for the Champions Cup 2017 should be the last straw for inactivity. The need for participating in the qualifying tournament for World Cup 2019 and the 20-point gap between eighth place and ninth place means that change is not going to happen for the next four years.

A development plan will take at least 10 years to reap rewards if implemented properly, with efficiency and discipline. In the 80s, rather than develop or copy the plans of the other countries, we adopted the ignorant view that natural talent will be our breeding ground. Today, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Ireland, and Bangladesh are able to compete and win matches against the West Indies. Richie Richardson, after losing a Test match, assessed and concluded that “it is the worse Australian team” he played against.

Such a development plan must include the forever non-committal The University of the West Indies, University of Trinidad and Tobago, and other regional tertiary institutions. It was embarrassing that the first such plan was developed by a foreign university, based in Grenada, St George's University, and yet to be continued by regional authorities and institutions.

By the looks of things, West Indies will no longer feature in One-Day International tournaments except by qualifying for the four-year World Cup — second tier level.

West Indies will no longer feature in Test Cricket since six or seven teams will make the “true Test” status of five days, and six or five teams will be in a Division Two with matches of four-days playing Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Ireland — second tier level. Let us hope that every two years the top of the Division Two and the bottom of the “true Test” teams will play three matches to decide who is promoted and who is demoted.

West Indies will only feature internationally in T20 matches but, with no development plan, this also will eventually downgrade.

The University of the West Indies and University of Trinidad and Tobago and other tertiary institutions within the West Indies must play a very prominent role in the development of sports, including cricket.

But Dave Cameron has to go.

Philip Ayoung-Chee is a urological surgeon and consultant. Send comments to the Observer or ayoungcheepkv@gmail.com.

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