Tough times for West Indies cricket

Monday, August 19, 2019

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What a difference a few months can make!

Back in February, after sensationally recapturing the prestigious Wisden Trophy following a 2-1 Test series victory over England and drawing 2-2 in a One-Day International series against the same opponents, the West Indies cricket team was on a high.

But by the end of June high expectations had turned into disappointment as West Indies fell flat at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England, winning just two games and finishing next to last.

The World Cup showed that for all the latent talent in the Caribbean team there remains an enormous gulf in terms of sustaining high standards compared to the world's best teams.

At bottom line, it seems to this newspaper that it come s down to preparation; physical, but perhaps most importantly, mental.

The evidence was there again for all to see as the West Indies went down to defeat in recent weeks to powerful India in Twenty20 and ODI series on Caribbean soil.

West Indies players kept making the same mistakes over and over again.

So now, lowly ranked West Indies are again faced with number one ranked India in a two-Test series, starting later this week as part of the newly minted World Test Championships.

Undoubtedly, West Indies Captain Mr Jason Holder and his men will be seeking to draw inspiration from their glorious memories of having beaten England earlier this year.

They must believe they can beat India, then plan and execute properly. For many, victory for the West Indies will seem an impossible task. But in the context of human endeavours, nothing is impossible.

Regardless of what happens in the upcoming Test series, the question of how to sustainably build West Indies cricket will remain.

When Mr Ricky Skerritt took over as president of Cricket West Indies earlier this year, he made the obvious point that partnerships with various stakeholders, including Caribbean governments and business corporations, would be important.

A huge problem for West Indies cricket is that there just isn't the money to do what's needed in terms of development programmes from grass roots to top-tier levels.

Cricket followers will have noticed that even as India's senior men's teams (in short and long formats) tour the Caribbean, globe-trotting India A teams were also here, gaining impressive results against West Indies counterparts.

Only recently an India Under-19 squad toured England.

Of course, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is by far the richest in international cricket, well able to properly prepare its players at all levels.

Obviously, cash-strapped associations such as Cricket West Indies are completely outmatched in that regard.

That's why meetings such as that held recently between Mr Skerritt and his team and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves are of critical importance.

For all the talk, West Indies cricket needs tangible, material help from regional governments and business corporations if it is to thrive.

As he has done in the past, Dr Gonsalves tells us that:

“West Indies Cricket success and growth are crucial to our regional psychological well-being. A regional good cannot be operated like a private club.”

That sounds good. Now let us see some action.


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