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International cricket review 2014 – Part 1

International cricket review 2014 – Part 1

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The West Indies cricket team began the New Year facing the herculean tasks of reviving fortunes and restoring the faith of the once adoring Caribbean public in both the team and the future of West Indies cricket as a whole.{{more}}

They must first try to emerge from the three-Test series with South Africa with some degree of respectability and then attempt to build confidence in preparation for February’s World Cup, with a strong showing in the One-Day Internationals and the T/ 20 matches which close off the South Africa tour.

None of these tasks is likely to be easy, given the state of affairs of West Indies cricket and the on-field performances over the past few years. The year 2014 followed the same dismal pattern, as if to justify the official rankings of the International Cricket Council, in which the West Indies is ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the Test table, holds the same eighth place in the ODI rankings and is only one place better in the T/20 rankings.

The past year was possibly the worst in the history of West Indies cricket, on and off the field. The persistent wrangling between cricket administrators (the West Indies Cricket Board), the leading players and their representative body, the Players Association, reached its lowest ebb in the catastrophic abandoning of the tour to India, with disastrous repercussions for the future of the game in the Caribbean.

It led to intervention once again by the political leadership in CARICOM, with our own Prime Minister Gonsalves spearheading efforts to stave off the worst. Gonsalves, a cricket enthusiast and avid regionalist, had intervened in the past, notably in the Chris Gayle affair. This time he helped to broker an agreement between the three warring parties in the wake of the aborted Indian tour, incurring strong criticism on the grounds of the misconception that he was proposing that Caribbean governments and people should assist in paying the debt arising from the aborted tour.

It was not to be his last incursion into the Caribbean cricket realm, for in spite of assurances to the contrary, the cricket administrators, as if in an act of vengeance, inexplicably left out ODI captain Dwayne Bravo, his Trinidadian colleague Kieron Pollard and axed Test captain Darren Sammy from the one-day squad for South Africa. This prompted a strong rebuke from Gonsalves in a stinging letter to WICG president Dave Cameron. If nothing else, the letter seemed to provoke appeasing moves by the Board to the “small islanders”, calling up long-neglected Vincentian seamer Kenroy Peters to replace the injured Kemar Roach and even recalling Sammy to the ODI team.

On the field things were not much better, as we shall see in the second part of this review.

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