“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:
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.
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.
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.