Fixing WI cricket won't be quick

Saturday, October 19, 2019

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A major weakness in Caribbean societies is the tendency to expect success in a hurry, and to seek short-term solutions.

So that in West Indies cricket, after the global dominance of the late '70s, '80s and early '90s, many people keep expecting the regional team to suddenly start winning again consistently, on the back of sustained failure.

We suspect there are many some in positions of influence who are expecting recent changes at the leadership level in West Indies cricket to bring immediate success.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that.

The global dominance of decades ago was nurtured in large measure because the region's most talented cricketers were able to practise their trade in English county cricket and for a few years with television mogul Mr Kerry Packer's game-changing World Series cricket.

The bottom fell out of West Indies cricket when those external professional arrangements dried up.

The value of professionalism to Caribbean cricket can be seen from the regional team's triumph at ICC T20 World Cup tournaments in 2012 and 2016. Those successes came because the top players in those teams had their talents honed in the professional T20 tournaments around the globe.

It took nearly 30 years for the cricket authorities in the Caribbean now Cricket West Indies to stumble their way towards a regional professional structure.

Today, despite chronic money shortages and depressing inefficiencies, this newspaper believes good progress has been made in developing franchise systems of sorts for regional limited overs and four-day competitions.

That contributed, we believe, to the 2-1 Test series victory over England and return of The Wisden Trophy to the Caribbean earlier this year.

But persistent weaknesses were soon shown up by failure at the 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup in England and mid-year defeat by powerful India in all formats.

So to now: following the coming to office of Cricket West Indies President Mr Ricky Skerritt early in 2019, we see other changes.

As expected, Mr Phil Simmons, who was sacked unjustifiably, we think in 2016, has returned as head coach of the senior West Indies men's set-up.

Mr Jason Holder has been relieved of his duties as captain of limited overs' teams, which we believe means he will now be better able to focus on Test match leadership while improving his own game.

Other considerations apart, the appointment of Mr Kieron Pollard as captain for limited overs' cricket demonstrates further that the recent hostilities between senior players and former administrators have been put to rest.

Importantly, selection arrangements have been revamped under the leadership of former West Indies all-rounder and former coach Mr Roger Harper. We wait to see how that works.

Crucially, it seems to us, there must be a concerted effort by all concerned to meticulously build West Indies cricket over the short, medium and long term. Forget quick fixes.

Everyone would do well to take a look at how India did it over the last 30 years.

Of course, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is the richest cricket board in the world, while Cricket West Indies is dirt-poor.

In the circumstances, all stakeholders, Cricket West Indies, regional governments, business partners, players, supporters, et al must march in step.


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