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AV ROOM: WI rallying round and round and round; Vidale not so merry as regional cricket goes wrong

On Sunday, when I checked in at the Oval on Facebook. there was a solitary comment on my post.

“You have more patience than Job!” it read.

And I thought to myself it is hardly about patience. There is a secret, though, to watching West Indies cricket. To paraphrase Dr Banner, I am always frustrated!

Photo: West Indies' Kieron Pollard is bowled off Pakistan's Rumman Raees during the final of four T20I matches at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on 2 April 2017. (Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)
Photo: West Indies’ Kieron Pollard is bowled off Pakistan’s Rumman Raees during the final of four T20I matches at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on 2 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

The WI cricket team would be at the top of the ICC standings in every format if they could frustrate opposing teams on the field the way they frustrate their fans in the stands!

Those fans who didn’t know better probably allowed themselves to be bolstered by the win on Saturday and then had the proverbial wind knocked out of their sails on Sunday. Many declared for the umpteenth time that this would be their last dance with the WI.

I am tempted to discuss the scores but I will resist that urge for now. I’ll say only this: while the coach and captain were talking about progression, Evin Lewis’ 91 was the difference on Saturday.

Additionally, unless you are getting five or six wickets in the process, going for 10 an over in low-scoring T20 games is not worthy of any commendation. But let me stop there before I digress.

What I really want to address is what is to be done; that will require, I think, two pieces. I shall use this first piece to give some context to my suggestions.

Firstly, a lesson in basic geometry for the WICB: circles have no corners! That’s why we have been turning the corner since the mid-90s and keep ending up right where we started.

Photo: West Indies' fans cheer during the third of four T20I matches between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017. West Indies won the match by 7 wickets, although Pakistan eventually won the series 3-1. (Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)
Photo: West Indies’ fans cheer during the third of four T20I matches between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017. West Indies won the match by 7 wickets, although Pakistan eventually won the series 3-1.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

In a 2006 interview with CMC Cricket Plus, then WICB President Ken Gordon is quoted as saying the following:

“I think we have a team that is playing with new vigour. I think they are being well led. I am seeing ongoing improvements in the bowling. There is much for us to be pleased about and I think on all fronts we have gone forward positively.”

There is that corner again!

Secondly, there has been no shortage of controversy around the regional body over the last two decades. These did not start with Dave Cameron and, if we proceed on our current path, I hardly doubt they will end with him.

Among several issues which plagued the tenure of President Julian Hunte, including the 2010 sparring with WIPA, the financial management of the regional body more often than not made the headlines.

In 2008, Express sports columnist Fazeer Mohammed underscored this when he asked, “What does this say about an administration entrusted with the affairs of West Indies cricket that it finds itself in such a financial bind a mere 18 months after hosting a World Cup tournament that returned record reported profits in excess of US$50 million?”

Photo: West Indies cricket players (from left) Chris Gayle, Dwayne Brave, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell celebrate after their 2016 World Twenty20 Championship final win over England. (Copyright ESPN)
Photo: West Indies cricket players (from left) Chris Gayle, Dwayne Brave, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell celebrate after their 2016 World Twenty20 Championship final win over England.
(Copyright ESPN)

Thirdly, it is Allen Stanford and not the WICB or the West Indies team who started to refill cricket grounds throughout the region for cricket matches. Lest we forget, the team played to empty grounds for Test matches for a long time and, even though the One-day game attracted a larger crowd, it could hardly be compared to the crowds that turned out for the Stanford tournament.

On that third point, I want to disagree with Andre Baptiste that there is any conscious protest going on. We are simply returning to normalcy with the regional team. The novelty of T20 cricket has passed and, like all sports in this part of the world, performance is what fills the grounds. Furthermore, an organised boycott will not work for the same reason. Unlike football, playing cricket with empty stands has never ruffled administrative feathers.

WI have been at the bottom of international rankings for a long time. The ‘good old days,’ which some remember so vividly as if they were yesterday, were actually over two decades ago. In all our fantasizing and in all our procrastinating, we have lost track of time.

But while we were turning corners in circles, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland have improved their game.

My final point is that insularity within the region cannot be discounted. This is perhaps the most complex issue. What does it mean to be West Indian in the 21st Century? Have we abandoned tenets of regionalism and, if yes, where exactly do we expect the players to develop these sensibilities if they exist nowhere in our landscape?

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)

These are not the only areas to address but I believe they provide a solid starting point. I have not forgotten the discourse on lucrative T20 contracts and players playing hard for club and not country. I will address that as well.

But for now, that’s stumps.

About Akins Vidale

Akins Vidale
Akins Vidale lectures at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies and is a UWI graduate with a B.A. in History. He has served as the president of the Trinidad Youth Council and is the General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN). Read his blog: http://akinsvidale.wordpress.com/

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13 comments

  1. Why should I rally around West Indies cricket which is no more, once West Indies Cricket Board management step down!!!

  2. West Indies cricket is about eating ah food, giving charity to participants of a certain race, certain country, family and friends. Face the facts. The management is ah bunch ah dunces. Remember cricket is ah business. Do you see anybody with any business sense on the WICBC. None.

  3. Cricket has gotten political and racial. With that West Indies will remain at the bottom for years to come.

  4. Wow, just a year ago we were on top of the world… Everybody was singin Champion-Champion….

  5. Hey you want change don’t go to a single match boycott and not the player. The only way for the WICB to get the point we are not happy is empty stands

  6. Seriously, though: What DOES it mean to be West Indian in the 21st century, particularly among the young? The youngsters between 1980-1995–the years when we were dominant in world cricket–would recall that virtually all the regional territories were fresh in terms of Independence. No longer were they bound to any colonial power and there was a point to be proven. Putting aside the basics in terms of cricketing know-how, the West Indian nation (or at least the notion of it) is irrelevant today. Do we strike out on our own as individual nations or do we maintain the facade? Look, doh mind me. I’m just rambling.

  7. T&T has been getting the ‘dirty end of the stick’ from the WICB for some time now, yet the TTCB has not zealously challenged this; they continue to facilitate the wrongs of the WICB and even overtly support it by endorsing the current CEO of the WICB.

    The WI Selectors have not chosen the best team for matches, but selected based on geopolitical agendas. Braithwaite and Holder captains? Get real!
    For wanting to live a happy, peaceful life, I do not follow cricket anymore. Go Los Blancos!!!!

  8. I am the eternal optimist but that stance is fast losing currency. I do not know much about the dynamics of the cricket board etc.What I do know is the fact that there is a lot of talent in the region. I have given up on going to cricket matches, I don’t even look at it on television. Perhaps individuals like yourself, who could dissect the game,could form a regional body, and present your views to the WICB. There is strength in numbers. I see Caribbean cricket dying a slow death. Please give it a lease on life!

  9. Are there any statisticians here who is willing to take the time to look at the first class statistics of our players compared to two decades ago? Who remembers when Clayton Lambert and Roland Holder could not make a West indies team while scoring runs regularly in the first class season? The malaise seems to extend through to the quality of player coming through since about 98.

  10. Good analysis…it has been OVER TWO DECADES THAT “WE TURNING THE CORNER”..
    Just watching the Pakistan team play was a revelation…vigour, spice, athleticism, immense pride, inspired leadership…words other than.BOWLING OR BATTING…

  11. Scotty Ranking

    My waning support for WI cricket matches the decline of the WI as a powerhouse in the cricketing world. In my youth, I used to watch on in amazement and fascination as adults willfully lost sleep to follow the teams exploits – via radio no less – on faraway tours at ungodly hours. I even remember my father watching television commentary of matches with the TV volume muted so that he could listen to the radio commentary!
    You simply cannot get that level of commitment again from these fans for this iteration of the team. For this I blame both the players and the successive appalling WICB administrations, both of whom symbiotically conspire with and inspire each other to produce these poor excuses of teams that currently represent the once-might West Indies.

    You are always frustrated, you say. Me? Where West Indies cricket is concerned I’m not content to paraphrase Dr Banner at all but repeat his phrase verbatim – I am always angry!

  12. Earl Best

    At the risk of repeating myself, I say that you have more patience than Job. You really do.