Posted on

We just cannot compete


Enter Australian television tycoon Kerry Packer in the late 1970’s. This seemed to have opened up the financial floodgates for some cricketers, who were then seen as big money earners.{{more}}

What then occurred was a greater recognition for cricketers’ talents, and the benchmark was set.

The rebel tours to South Africa in the early 1980’s were an enticement for some cricketers who could not wait their turn to get on to the West Indies team. Combative, as was the intention, after that country was sidelined for its system of Apartheid, cricketers were lured to that country to play cricket for what many, including me, deemed as filthy lucre.

However, this evil further raised the bar, as it was realized then that cricketers were entitled to bigger pay day for their efforts.

The emergence of the West Indies as the mightiest force in world cricket saw a proliferation of our cricketers to the English Counties and to the lesser recognized leagues.

But how things have changed.

The West Indies is almost at the bottom of the ladder in all forms of the game: Test, One Day Internationals and the latest fast food serving of 20/20.

Fewer players are being contracted to the English Counties, so, too, the door is shut tight on those who from the Caribbean sought to ply their trade in South Africa.

Our players are in alms as they are not the first choices, but are last resorts when there is any charity to be handed out.

The West Indies moved a few years ago to introduce the payment of retainer fees to our players, to keep them in the region. But this did not last as long as Miss Janey Fire.

The steady decline in our cricket, coupled with poor management of the sport, have led to the players, many of whom are not worth their current salaries, demanding more from the Board, especially on overseas assignments.

On the contrary, former West Indies opener Desmond Haynes said recently that his first pay day for a Test Match was TT $800 and he felt then like a millionaire. Today that is ‘sweety ‘change to the present crop of regional players.

Rewind to the West Indies tour of South Africa in 1998, when the West Indies Cricket Board was held to ransom over fees. This is stand by, was the darkest moments of our cricket, and were are yet to recover. In fact, it may have been sacreligious for the players to make such an issue, especially going to of all places, South Africa.

That episode laid the groundwork for others to follow, as the same players duplicated their behaviour on subsequent tours which were only solved by way of arbitration.

The ongoing row between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation and the Players Association over non payment of world cup payments is another example that gives credence to the saying: “Money talks, everything else walks”.

As it now appears, the WICB is hapless and at the mercies of everyone who has an eight digit or more US bank account.

The fact the Allen Stanford was able to have his way that this year’s Carib Beer Series had to be altered to facilitate his 20/20 tournament paints the dim portrait of the regional cricket authorities.

And, Stanford continues to have his way as the top officials of the WICB always have to suck up to him.

Stanford is the shot caller in the region’s cricket. His recent statement that his input in the sport will help to revitalize the game in the Caribbean shows that he has the remote control of the WICB in his hands.

But the most embarrassing was the recent announcement by the West Indies Players Association to have a 20/20 club competition, with a winner’s purse of US$ 150,000, is a slap in the face to those in charge of the development of the sport in the region.

The broken WICB just has to stand by and take the crumbs that fall. The ongoing lucrative Indian Premier League has already swallowed us up, while the other test playing nations are setting up restrains to help cushion the impact of the IPL, with its finances which stands at near infinity.

Last year, enter the Indian Cricket League, another non-sanctioned rebel competition. Brian Lara for obvious marketing reasons was contracted to that league. So, too, was his fellow Trinidadian Mervyn Dillion. Earlier this year, former West Indian players Tino Best and Wavell Hinds said goodbye to representing the regional team and opted for the Indian Cricket League (ICL).

We, in the region, just have to stand aside and look, as for certain we cannot compete, as the WICB seems not to have the brain to make an impact.

But those who oppose the erection of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field will continue to fan the flames of their disapproval.

Also, there is still no word from the executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation on the salary paid to Technical Director Stewart John Hall.