Perry blames territorial boards for WI's decline in recent yearsThursday, June 03, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
WHILE encouraged by the West Indies team's rise up the world Test cricket rankings, former player Nehemiah Perry blames territorial boards for the regional side's miserable spiral since the 1990s.
Last month the International Cricket Council (ICC) released rankings that indicated the Caribbean side had moved two places up to sixth — its best position in nearly a decade.
“It is a very encouraging sign, [but] the thing about this now is the sustainability of it. We all have to do it from the territorial board level and from the school level and at the top level,” Perry told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview.
“The local territorial boards believe that Cricket West Indies (CWI), formerly West Indies Cricket Board, must do all of the development and work. That is the cause of West Indies cricket's demise over the years,” the former Jamaica and West Indies off-spinner said.
Though CWI is responsible for governing the game in the region, West Indies cricket comprises six territorial boards. These boards — Barbados Cricket Association, Guyana Cricket Board, Jamaica Cricket Association, Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, Leeward Islands Cricket Board and Windward Islands Cricket Board — are expected to foster development within their respective territories by promoting the game in schools, communities and clubs.
But territorial boards, albeit largely under-resourced, have often come under fire for not doing enough to consistently produce cricketers who are equipped to excel at the highest level.
There is widespread belief that too many regional players enter the West Indies set-up lacking basic technique which means coaches at that level are faced with the challenge of correcting major flaws instead of focusing on fine-tuning minor kinks.
“The territorial boards have a responsibility to take care of their players and ensure that their players are given the best of coaching, the best of facilities and the best management and administration to develop mind and skill.
“When CWI gets them they should already be at a certain level so those coaches don't have to do so much work, instead of doing it from the basic level in some cases. The territorial board has an awesome responsibility that includes schools and clubs. Now if you can get those right you're going to get a better product. If you get [increased development] in schools and clubs you can get better cricketers at the regional level,” argued Perry, who played four Tests and 21 One-Day Internationals for West Indies between 1999 and 2000.
“Having said that, cricket is not so popular in the Caribbean anymore. It's not the number one sport which everybody is going crazy about and lining up with sponsors and all of that. It's very difficult to get resources to fund these programmes, but you have to find a way, you can't just drop your guard. We need to find the resources to get the developmental programmes and camps and academies to get players up to speed and prepared for international cricket,” he told the Observer.
India are atop the global Test rankings, with New Zealand close in second. They are followed by England in third spot, fourth-placed Australia and fifth-placed Pakistan.
Before the recent climb, the Caribbean side, the peerless powerhouse in the global game for some of the 1970s through to the mid-90s, has withered near the bottom of the ladder for over a decade.
Despite the slump there have been positive signs mixed with disappointment.
West Indies surprised many in 2017 by winning a Test in England before succumbing to a 1-2 series defeat. Two years later they went a step further, stunning the Englishmen 2-1 in the Caribbean.
Only last summer West Indies suffered a 1-2 loss away to England. That was followed by a 0-2 hammering at the hands of hosts and heavy favourites New Zealand.
However, the visiting West Indian team, minus a few leading players who opted out due to coronavirus-related concerns, managed an improbable 2-0 sweep of Bangladesh a few months ago. More recently the Windies held Sri Lanka to a nil-all result in the Caribbean.
Up next for West Indies is a two-Test series against touring South Africa this month.
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