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Windies continue slide into cricket abyss with Champions Trophy failure

“Running a board with only management skills,” declared former West Indies team manager Rudi Webster in yesterday’s Express, “is like trying to cut a piece of paper with half a pair of scissors.”

Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron during a function at WIPA's office in Jamaica in 2014. (Courtesy WIPA)
Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron during a function at WIPA’s office in Jamaica in 2014.
(Courtesy WIPA)

“We must remember that in general,” he also noted, “when we are dealing with human beings, we are not dealing with creatures of logic; we are dealing with creatures of habit, emotions and self-interest, creatures who crave status, recognition and power.”

Put it down to prejudice but my feeling is that, having originally written “when dealing with these human beings,” the displeased psychologist disguised his anger by removing the tell-tale demonstrative adjective.

And what are we to make of the fact that, despite referring repeatedly to “the WICB” and “the Board,” Webster is careful to avoid naming names, never once identifying in over 800 words President Dave Cameron or any of his subordinates?

His final paragraph, I imagine, is laid squarely at the feet of the President and his CEO, Michael Muirhead.

“A commitment to the status quo is no longer a viable option,” it reads. “It is a prescription for further failure or worse.”

Still, one is left to guess at what so annoyed Webster and prompted him to put acerbic pen to paper. My guess is that it is the fact that, after the World Cup victories of 1975 and 1979 and the second-place finish in 1983, these days the regional team cannot even make the cut for what is effectively the world 50-over championship.

Photo: The West Indies cricket team awaits a decision during the Second Test of its home tour against Australia earlier this year. (Copyright Robyn Beck/AFP 2015)
Photo: The West Indies cricket team awaits a decision during the Second Test of its home tour against Australia earlier this year.
(Copyright Robyn Beck/AFP 2015)

It’s now well known that there will be no Champions Trophy participation for Denesh Ramdin’s side in 2017. And that chronic mishandling of the region’s cricketing affairs means that the next time we shall see our regional team in action will no longer be within the next month in Zimbabwe but Down Under in December.

It is true that the cut-off point for qualification for the 2017 tournament is not yet here. But we already know that, when the time for the tourney eventually rolls around, the West Indians will, like me and you, have to watch the action on television.

Once lowly Bangladesh, normally above West Indies only in alphabetical lists where cricket is concerned, will be in the final eight as will be the unpredictable Pakistanis. Along with prospective participants Zimbabwe, Kenya, and the Netherlands, the West Indians, surprise champions in 2004 under the leadership of Brian Lara, will be sitting out this one.

Does anyone need to be reminded that we were once untouchable as short-format champions of the world?

Which West Indian can have forgotten how Clive Lloyd’s world-beating Caribbean cavaliers triumphed over the rest of the world in the first two cricket World Cups and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 1983?

How have the mighty fallen! Nowadays making even the qualifying round is beyond us.

Photo: Clive Lloyd (right) was West Indies' most successful cricket captain. (Courtesy ESPN)
Photo: Clive Lloyd (right) was West Indies’ most successful cricket captain.
(Courtesy ESPN)

But to be fair, it has to be said that, on their way out of 2017, the erstwhile champions got a little last-minute help from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Realising that they might need a little help from their friends to make it into the top eight, the West Indies Cricket Board had belatedly arranged to be part of a limited-overs series between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe scheduled to be played in the month from next week to mid-September. In May, remember, Zimbabwe Cricket had helped Pakistan host their first international series in the country in seven years by agreeing to tour that country.

Earlier this month, however, without offering any reason for their decision, the PCB asked Zimbabwe to hold their horses, to put the August-September limited-overs series on ice.

“Both boards will now look,” a PCB official told an ESPNcricinfo reporter, “for another window other than August-September this year.”

He did not explain but for those in the know the message in the precise time reference was crystal clear.

For those not quite clear on what has been happening, here’s the context: The first eight teams in the ICC rankings as at September 30 this year will be automatic qualifiers for the 2017 Champions Trophy tournament.

Photo: Chris Gayle (second from left) celebrates with his West Indies teammates during their 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup win over Pakistan. (Copyright AFP 2015/William west)
Photo: Chris Gayle (second from left) celebrates with his West Indies teammates during their 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup win over Pakistan.
(Copyright AFP 2015/William west)

As things stand, Bangladesh, by virtue of their surprise 3-0 ODI defeat of Pakistan, their 2-1 triumph over India and their shock win over South Africa by the same margin last month, are now on a secure 96 points and in an unassailable seventh place in the rankings.

Pakistan’s 3-2 ODI victory over Sri Lanka last month has enabled them to snatch eighth place on 92 points, leaving the West Indies, on 88, occupying ninth spot. Were the Caribbean side to win the proposed tri-series in Zimbabwe with Pakistan bringing up the rear, the Caribbean side might have earned the points they need to leapfrog the Pakistanis and claim eighth place.

Were the boot on the other foot, it would have surprised few of those who have been following WI cricket over the last decade or so if Cameron and company had decided to play on. A large enough sum of money, one feels, would have sufficed to get the cash-strapped WICB to thus jeopardise the team’s qualification for the 2017 tournament.

But the boots are on Pakistani feet and so it won’t happen. Discretion being the better part of valour, the PCB has understandably opted to look for another window for the series to be played.

As things stand, CEO Muirhead is now busy, the Express reported recently, trying to find an opponent—presumably one they can beat, thus severely limiting the options—willing to accommodate them for a series before the end of next month. Given the current realities of world cricket, good luck to them with that!

Photo: India cricketers celebrate an English wicket.
Photo: India cricketers celebrate a wicket.

Some say India, in whose good books the WICB were supposed to be after Cameron defied public sentiment and voted for the triad of India, England and Australia to run world cricket, were approached to play an ODI Series.

With a still unpaid bill of almost US$42 million outstanding after the unceremonious walkout by Dwayne Bravo’s troops last year, is it really any surprise that all Muirhead got was a boof?

Had the Board treated its players better, the CEO might not have had to make the approach himself; he might have been able to ask Bravo, Keiron Pollard and Sunil Narine whose stocks are high in the sub-continent to make the overtures on his behalf. But that bridge, we can rest assured, has been well and truly burnt.

And if the rumours are to be believed, even Skipper Ramdin may not be asking the Almighty to put a hand. The word around town is that the now scuttled provisional squad for Zimbabwe did not include the underperforming Test captain.

As if preparing us for any nasty surprises, Muirhead told the Express reporter that: “The players have been playing a lot of cricket and are looking to get a rest.”

Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin. (Copyright: AFP2015)
Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin.
(Copyright: AFP2015)

In the same day’s paper, Express sports writer Mark Pouchet is reported as asking “disappointed” former West Indies wicketkeeper Michael Findlay whether he thought West Indies would one day get back to “the near dominance of their glory years.”

“I am going to be 72 (in mid-October),” came the reply, “and I don’t think I will live to see us getting back close to that until and unless we start seriously addressing these issues.”

Findlay is obviously an optimist. There is no evidence to suggest that the, in Webster’s words, “over-managed and under-led” WICB under the stewardship of Cameron and Muirhead know what the real issues are—or care to!

Ask former president Ken Gordon or former Commonwealth secretary-general Shridath “Sonny” Ramphal or former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson.

So Pouchet is just over half the ex-selector’s age and he won’t see the West Indies back near the top of the cricket world.

Photo: West Indies players (from left) Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo and Chris Gayle. (Courtesy AP)
Photo: West Indies players (from left) Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo and Chris Gayle.
(Courtesy AP)

Not without magic or a miracle.

Or both.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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13 comments

  1. Always good when high ranking officials essentially argue for you

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/sport/0,215797.html

    Former ICC head condemns Pakistan move
    By COLIN BENJAMIN Wednesday, August 19 2015

    FORMER INTERNATIONAL Cricket Council (ICC) President Ehsan Mani has called Pakistan’s u-turn about playing a tri-series against West Indies and Zimbabwe, as simply “not cricket” and going against the spirit of the game.

    In recent weeks, both the West Indies Cricket Board president and CEO Michael Muirhead have stated that West Indies are certain to miss the 2017 Champions Trophy because of nonagreement from Pakistan (90 points) ranked eighth in the ICC 50 overs table about playing the tri-series that was scheduled from August 17 to September 7.

    Pakistan’s non commitment was recently confirmed after they won their one-day series with Sri-Lanka 3-2 to all but secure their Champions Trophy spot and later rescheduled the bilateral series with Zimbabwe to September 24 – October 5. With West Indies ranked ninth (88 points), Pakistan were reluctant to play such a series that could jeopardise their Champions Trophy qualification before the September 30 cut-off date.

    This has led to much condemnation of the WICB from experts around the Caribbean, but Mani has taken aim at the ICC for how they have structured the tournament that used to involve all test playing nations.

    “The fact that Pakistan has pulled out of the tri-series is simply ‘not cricket’ and goes against the spirit of the game,” stated Mani, who was (International Cricket Council) president from 2003-2006.

    He continued: “Unfortunately, since the ICC meddled with the binding nature of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) last year, there is no obligation on any country to stick to commitments made to tour unless these have been confirmed in a binding contact.

    “This ‘free for all’ nature of tour commitment opens it to manipulation which is exactly what has happened in this case.

    “It also shows just how blindly the cricket boards agreed to the changes in the FTP without understanding the consequences.” Mani, who is of Pakistani origin, further stated that such a revamped champions trophy that doesn’t have all the test-playing nations involved is a poor trade-off for no Test championship.

  2. Ha with Rampaul there is always a perception he is not fit – when a lot of the times he actually is despite his injury record – but selectors past and present just don’t pick him for tests

    He is in T&T 4-day team for this season so logically unless he breaks down no reason to not pick him on these tours

    How he has not played a test since 2011 is madness.

  3. Yeah, will be interesting to see if selectors do go with Dowrich in the next Test or go back to Samuels, who they need as the most experienced player left in squad. Regarding Rampaul, he’s West Indies most effective wicket-taker in the sub-continent, but he needs to lay off the doubles and get fit lol

  4. San Toki Last update on Gayle just after the CPL from the Australians is the he is expected to be back in training in October in time for 1st big bash league game for Melbourne Renegades on December 19th – http://www.cricket.com.au/news/chris-gayle-surgery-back-training-october-big-bash-league-melbourne-renegades/2015-07-27

    So just like before AUS tour here in June once he indeed is fit in time – it will all depend on selectors negotiation nous and actual willingness because unlike others he hasn’t said he doesn’t want to play test.

    On Holder remember I said that XI is based on sane “logical” cricket reasons – not on likelihood based on what we fear selectors will do/pick because non cricket reasons

  5. Colin Benjamin Gayle will miss the SL and Aus tours through injury, so I’d imagine Chandrika would get a chance to open again. Also no way is Holder ever getting dropped from the XI due to fact he’s seen as new Captain in waiting, plus he does stand up for the team, e.g his century in 1st test vs Eng and 82* ve Aus earlier this year

  6. It would beyond ridiculous if Narine and Bishoo don’t play together in Sri Lanka San Toki – I waiting for them

    Logical best XI based on who say they still want to play tests would be: Gayle, Brathwaite, Bravo, Samuels, Blackwood, Hope, Ramdin, Taylor, Narine, Rampaul, Bishoo

  7. I have no idea why we complain about our progress when we keep fishing in the same pond. using the same bait, carrying the same liming ingredients, and walking with the same set of partners.

    • Hannibal, In the interest of accuracy, we complain about the LACK OF progress. And in my view, the major reason why we fail to progress is that we leave our nets and our lines in the same selfish hands. I agree wholeheartedly with Pulling Teeth’s comments. Wanna bet that the Board again ignores all the major recommendations made by the committee to which Rudi Webster refers in his piece?

  8. The Test between Sri Lanka and India currently on at Galle gives an indication of how spin-friendly the SL tour will be, yet what are odds that WI end up not choosing Narine. Probably play Bishoo and 3 seamers, as if it were a Test in England lol.

  9. I still cannot understand why people continue to support ineptitude; placing ‘island prejudice’ over the good of West Indies cricket. We continue with the ‘crab in ah barrel’ mentality.

    The team should not have pulled out of the India tour, but they should not have been placed at such a disadvantageous position either, with a untenable contract. Persons on the Board are trying to be ‘big fishes’ in a ‘small pond’ and while we wrestle over foolishness, the cricketing world moves on and laughs.

    The Board has constantly shown its inability to manage and refuses to take responsibility for its glaring failure.

    We need to get the right people there whose ambition is nothing but good cricket.

  10. First mate: “Captain Cameron! There’s an iceberg dead ahead, should we change course?”

    Captain Cameron: “No! Stay the course! If we sink, blame the ship for not being stronger, and the iceberg for being there, but don’t blame the Captain!”

  11. Windies do go to Sri Lanka before the dreaded AUS tour.

    But despite SRI team looking ripe for the taking now that last of their golden era of Jayawardene and Sangakkara is retiring – plus AUS potentially vulnerable again due to the Ashes defeat – all signs still show Windies won’t take anything close to their best team on these tours because of well documented BS reasons #irritated