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Windies cricket: It can’t get worse than this


Fri Oct 24, 2014

West Indies cricket has had some crises over the past 36 years, beginning with the Kerry Packer affair of 1978. Since then, we have had to weather the storms of the furore before the 1998/99 tour of South Africa, when the “stars” on the team refused to accept the mediation of the iconic Nelson Mandela; strikes in 2005 and 2009 after a breakdown of talks between the Board and the Players Association; and the Chris Gayle affair, settled only on the intervention of our own Prime Minister.{{more}}

In the meantime, the on-field performances of the team have got so bad that, despite occasional triumphs and moments of glory, the regional team, once dominant in the world, ranks only above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe on the international stage. By contrast, egos of those involved, both at the player and administrative levels, have inflated to an extent that compromise and reasoned negotiation seem virtually impossible.

That is the situation which led to the intractable stand-offs that brought about the strikes, the hostility between administrators and players’ representatives and the dragging of the reputation of West Indies cricket in the dust. If we thought that rock-bottom had been reached, we were in for a shock, for the unprecedented abortion of the tour of India, whilst in progress, the revolt of the leading players against their own union, and the position of the Board in backing the players’ body, WIPA, against their own players, has plunged regional cricket to new depths.

The repercussions for our cricket, the most powerful unifying social force in the region, are frightening. It has brought about what veteran regional cricket commentator Tony Cozier has described as a “lose-lose” situation. We will all lose as a result of the madness.

The WICB faces claims for financial compensation from the Indian Board, which could amount to the astronomical sum of US$65 million, a huge fine and possible sanctions from the International Cricket Conference (ICC) and a devaluation of any contractual arrangements to a stage where such contracts are regarded as not worth the paper on which they are written.

The players, in spite of their bravado and show of strength, can now face a situation where they are regarded as untrustworthy and may have lost even some of the waning faith of their own fans in them.

West Indies fans and people, heartened by recent negotiated tours by the top teams, will now face the threat of possibly only seeing low-rated teams. CARICOM governments have to put up with the shame of yet another example of our inability to settle our differences without recourse to inflammatory language and extreme actions.

Couldn’t all those involved see where intransigence and egomania would lead us all? Was who is “right” or “wrong”, who had bigger muscles to flex, more important than the harmful repercussions? Did it have to reach this stage? Have we not learnt from the lurches of the past 15-20 years?

Try as they might, apportioning blame does not absolve any of the protagonists from the guilt of sacrificing regional cricket on the altar of their inflated self-opinions. Where are regional governments in all this? Who is to foot the bill? Who will lead the way in picking up the pieces? We can only hope that we do not end up like the proverbial Humpty Dumpty, whom “all the king’s horses and king’s men” could not put together again.

Coincidentally, both the Indian Board and the WICB held emergency meetings on the same day this week, Tuesday. The outcomes were totally different – a decisive cancellation of scheduled tours by India and the reaffirmation to seek financial redress, by the Indian Board. On the part of the WICB, there was a vague statement of intent to set up an investigation and to try to repair the damage. It is typical of the dithering of the past decade and a half.

Bleak times lie ahead.

Interactive Media Ltd, publishers of SEARCHLIGHT Weekend and SEARCHLIGHT Midweek, congratulate the nation on this our 35th anniversary of political independence. May God bless and keep us true!