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PITT STOP: ODI numbers don’t lie; WICB must stop running its own cricket team out!

“The supply of cricketers is not nearly as great here in the West Indies as in Pakistan, say, with its almost 195 million or India (1.2 billion) or even England (55 million).

“Inexplicably, however, we have found a way to reduce the supply of players available for international cricket by continuously waging war on senior cricketers and continually enacting selection eligibility rules that quite clearly punish them for having the effrontery to be successful and in high demand.”

Columnist and retired judge Romain Pitt suggests that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) might be running out its own star talent in the following Letter to the Editor:

Photo: West Indies cricketer Sunil Narine (left) tries to run out Australia captain George Bailey during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on 28 March 2014.  (Copyright AFP 2016/Munir uz Zaman)
Photo: West Indies cricketer Sunil Narine (left) tries to run out Australia captain George Bailey during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on 28 March 2014.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Munir uz Zaman)

Shoaib Malik, whose unbeaten century for Pakistan gave his team a six-wicket victory in the third and last ODI against the West Indies in Guyana on Sunday, has now played 247 such matches. His partner in the fifth-wicket stand that took the game away from the hosts and took the visitors over the line was Mohammad Hafeez, whose tally of ODIs is just 15 short of 200.

The total number of ODIs played by the 11 that represented the region in Sunday’s game was just three short of 200, twelve more than Hafeez!

And as if that were not enough, we can compare the individual ODI records of the West Indian batsmen expected to lead the side’s effort at the crease: Evin Lewis (11), Chadwick Walton (8), Kieran Powell (34), Shai Hope (10), Jason Mohammed (8), Jonathan Carter (23).

Jason Holder, the team captain and in this sense as well the team leader, has played a mere 55, which is 21 more than the player with the second-highest number under his belt and, more tellingly perhaps, just five less than the total number played by five of the top six in Sunday’s batting line-up, with Powell being the man left out.

I think we are well within our rights to demand an explanation from some West Indian cricketing official. But while we wait for that—it is unlikely to be volunteered—I wish to offer a view.

Photo: West Indies' Evin Lewis hits a boundary during the third of four T20I matches against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.  (Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)
Photo: West Indies’ Evin Lewis hits a boundary during the third of four T20I matches against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

Part of the reason in my view is that, while all the major cricket countries have a Youth (Under-19) team and a Senior team, the modern policy of the WICB is to have an Under-19 Youth team and an Over-19 Youth team. It is clear that mature West Indian cricketers, of whom there are not many, are too insolent and/or too mercenary to represent the West Indies.

Compared to the population of other cricketing countries, the around 8,000,000 population of the region is infinitesimal. Logically, therefore, the supply of cricketers is not nearly as great here in the West Indies as in Pakistan, say, with its almost 195 million or India (1.2 billion) or even England (55 million).

Inexplicably, however, we have found a way to reduce the supply of players available for international cricket by continuously waging war on senior cricketers and continually enacting selection eligibility rules that quite clearly punish them for having the effrontery to be successful and in high demand.

It is my considered view that the WICB directors could not sustain such a policy if there were not support, tacit or explicit, for it in the region. That support is based, at least in part, on the mistaken belief that West Indian international teams were not winning even with their best players.

It is an understandable misapprehension, given the memory—still fresh in many minds—of the glory years of the late 1970s and 1980s when the splendid teams led by Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards almost ritually whipped the world going and coming.

Photo: Legendary former West Indian captain Sir Viv Richards in action. (Courtesy ESPNCricinfo)
Photo: Legendary former West Indian captain Sir Viv Richards in action.
(Courtesy ESPNCricinfo)

The bald truth, however, is that the West Indies won the Champions Trophy in 2004, were in the semi-finals some years later, and won the T20 championship in both 2012 and 2016. As an added bonus, we also walked away with world Women’s and Youth titles in 2016.

What is more it that it can never be a defensible policy not to play your best team. Let me cite just one example: Which rational group of selectors, given a choice between the 31-year-old Walton and the 36-year-old Marlon Samuels for an ODI place, would opt for the former ahead of the latter?

And I am not at all unmindful of the old adage about form being temporary but class permanent!

I think the reader may well be surprised, however, at how many West Indian fans would approve of a decision in favour of the younger man.

Things must change; we must stop running ourselves out.

And fast!

Photo: West Indies batsman Chris Gayle (centre) hits out against the Pakistan bowling during their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group B match in Christchurch on 21 February 2015.  (Copyright AFP 2017/William West)
Photo: West Indies batsman Chris Gayle (centre) hits out against the Pakistan bowling during their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group B match in Christchurch on 21 February 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2017/William West)

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35 comments

  1. The West Indies always had a limited pool from which to choose players, and WI dominated for many years. What we have to look at is when and what caused the downward spiral? This would require an indepth analysis by all parties concerned, with independent input as well

  2. I must stand with the PM on this. Three institutions were formed 1. UWI 2. CXC and 3. WI Cricket. The problem is. Who do they report too. No one seems to know. Not even governments. These entities literally run their own affairs freely. Question – Who funds these institutions?

  3. All the other major cricket nations do NOT seem to have this.problem…

  4. It’s deliberate on the wicb part, cozier stated before he died, external forces are at play in regards to our cricket , meaning selection and control..

    They will not select the strongest team because they don’t want West Indies on top

  5. Cozier has already stated prior to passing away, external forces are at play in selection control of West Indies cricket ….that’s why they are waging war because they don’t want West Indies to field their best team

    • I don’t get it though. Just ego?

    • Quite a conspiracy theory. I don’t know that it helps anyone for West Indies to be doing this badly. Or for WICB to be sending under-strength teams out to face top nations.
      But I’d admit that I’m clearly missing something since this nonsense is the order of the day.

    • More than ego, economics, people turn off their sets when West Indies are winning everything, major money involved and West Indies doesn’t have the population to demand the big money like India and so forth

      Revenue sharing comes into play and the elite nations do not want to share that money with West Indies, so they pay off and sabotage instead, plus despite Indians and Aussies loving West Indies cricket, West Indies beating them like before in the hay day will not be good for business in their nations… so they ensure our best team doesn’t play

      If India loses, hundreds of millions stop watching

      Tv revenues changed the entire game

    • Cozier is not a conspiracy theorists nor has he ever been, by saying external forces are at play, it’s exactly what I’m talking about, India they can’t control because of their population and their power..

      West Indies they can and will, money and image at the end of the day trumps everything … there is no logical reason why the wicb continues to not select the best players, has nothing to do with ego, just some house negroes like Cameron taking orders … cozier knew what he was talking about when he said it

    • Hold on Gino McKoy ha – i had the privileged on speaking of Cozier on personal basis A LOT in last 15 months of his life when i started writing for ESPN and while he indeed spoke and wrote publicly about “external” forces are indeed at play in the best windies team not being picked especially since the India 14 saga – he was clearly only speaking of the WICB people.

      The phil simmons suspension was when it was publicly exposed.

      Everything is you said I’m afraid sound nothing more than baseless conspiracy cause Cozier never wrote and article saying any of that

      And i know for a fact having a lot of international cricket media, administrator acquaintances, nobody is trying to sabotage WI from rising again – this is entirely an attack from within

    • GinoMcKoy you’re kidding right?

      95% Our Problems are “Internal”, the only External Force i lay a bit of blame on is the “Big 3” for grabbing the Lion’s Share of the Money Pie from. Everything else are our own doing.

    • dont forget all the rules they brought in since WI domination

    • dont forget that cameron voted against WI interest

    • What did he mean when he said external forces?

      Define that for me please, whether you like to believe it or not, West Indies is not all internal sabotage ….

    • Let’s put things into perspective here:

      The bcci, Ecb and acb control world cricket. From a revenue standpoint it’s the bcci that is now calling the shots, however the Ecb is the creator, and still holds much weight.

      The wicb are house negroes and have no financial or political power in world cricket… They cannot call any shots because we don’t have the resources nor the population to back us up on an international stage.

      TV revenues, merchandising, betting etc are the revenue streams that are being tapped into by the elite 3.

      The wicb have become order takers, they take instructions and follow them, the leadership for the wicb are house negroes and Indians that follow orders to a T.

      You cannot blame it on race nor insularity because BassRat is colluding with the wicb and is the main reason TT cricket has been on the downslide…

      Why would the wicb select the worst teams to represent the region? From a revenue standpoint, selecting the best team would generate higher revenues for the wicb and also enable them to have a much greater say in world cricket… So external sabotage is quite possible with external forces dictating many decisions that affect our region..

      Since you feel the need to ignore institutional racism and sell outs that are running the show, it seems you are quite content on saying it’s all internal..

      Yet your friend Mr.Cozier said external forces, define that as I stated above? Don’t dance around what he said, state what he meant since you were so close to him.. In fact, Cozier had a great command of the English language so I doubt he meant internal..

      Further to this, deeming what I say as conspiracy is just an easy way to dismiss someone who is thinking outside the box and putting reason to the madness taking place in our cricket..

      If you can’t think outside the box and cannot see the political and financial side of our cricket, then you will deem what I say as conspiracy because it’s way over your head…

    • So Kyon ask yourself the question, why did Cameron vote against our interest?

      I’ll tell you why, because it’s coming from external sources

    • Gino McKoy Ok you put out a lot of red meat there ha

      Will respond back in a few days

  6. Inflated Egos and spite is what is killing our cricket. What makes it worse is that it’s actually cemented in selection policy

  7. I agree with both commentators. WICB continue to deprive senior cricketers of a place in the team . They contine to send 4th and 5th rate cricketers who contonuoulsy emabarrass the region, while other countries are sending their best team. Is there a plan by the current WICB to remain at the bottom rung of the ladder

  8. Agreed. We cannot chop and change when the board are not happy with a player(s) bcz they rebel. Need to LISTEN to our cricketers and find ways to help our cricketers get back good form or improve their skills by investment of finance and expertise personnel.

  9. You are right WIBC is running the best players away and are spoiling potential good players. Case in point Carlos Brathwaite a potentially good player burdened with the captaincy even before he has learnt to play the international game. Why? Because of his heroics in the 2016 world t20. Now he can’t make the team on form.
    Look at the two world cups we won. All of the senior players were there. Now we can’t even beat Pakistan.
    Ibeg ti ask the question “how can we get rid of the WIBC?” It is mind boggling how Dave Cameroon was re elected. Any ideas? Anyone.

    • Earl Best

      Hire a hitman? Or does it have to be by completely legit means? In that case, you have to do like the govt and pray for divine intervention, I submit. Or we could try to help ourselves and stay away from any and all WICB-related activities in droves.

      And that includes the media, as I have recommended somewhere on this site pages before.

      • Or convince the WICB sponsors to terminate their contracts? I might be wrong, but if I own a brand, I will not want it to be associated with the product that is West Indies cricket. I believe if that happens, then changes will start to happen fast

  10. Mr Pitt could be my pastor – just preaching the gospel to me ha

  11. Its not about the supply. We proved that ! Didn’t we? It’s about management and leadership! Right?

  12. I take my hats off to Pitt for his ability to analyze/identify the real pblm confronting W.I. cricket/cricketers. As I read his commentary, I reflected on Brian Charles Lara and the issues he had with the WICBC. Sometimes, interacting with my eight children, the going gets though, now that all of them are grown. When things are not what they are suppose to be, I stop and do some self-evaluation, to get things back to normalcy. I’m simply wondering after reading this article if the WICBC ever considered, the various options that are available, by looking at things through another prism, to avoid consistently running out there treasured players.