Monday, 28 December 2015
Times, they are a-changing - Thoughts on the West Indies
One could, right through their history, name great players that performed and inspired, until recently. Looking back at that result sheet, which included Tests, ODI's and T20's one could see a leveling off of results. It's not a sudden demise. From 1993 onward shows a sudden downturn in wins across all formats, though with the occasional success here and there. But what is this sudden downturn aligned to?
But alas, times changed as did the demographic in Caribbean sports and culture. Believe it or not, the 1993 motion picture, Cool Runnings, signifies a change in sporting talent direction, showing how other sports were fighting for the athletes that always previously chose cricket. An upsurge of Basketball and Athletics from early 80's, saw a downturn in talented junior cricketers progressing into senior international cricket. Or if picked and not nurtured they were walking away from the sport and going elsewhere. A lot of the downturn in talented cricketers was also attributed to poor administration and displayed also in the state of their main cricketing venues.
Simply put, a group of islands that survived on 100+ years of cricket all year round, now had viable competition. And it's struggling. In the past 10 years there have been instances where facilities and grounds have been woefully inadequate. To me, a sign that administration is struggling. And the ICC knew about the issues and seemingly failed to step in. Then more recently, the players took a stand for themselves and stopped an ICC sanctioned tour to India over a pay issue. Another indication WI cricket was in disheveled state. And of course, when mothership is not functioning well, the crew show their sadder side. And players come and go as administration fails to come to grips with selections and poor man management. The Performance drops even further. The stark reality is if this state continues, then the only outcome will WI becoming an affiliate nation.
So what is the best fix for their current issues. A few things really. Players have to allow wages that their board can play, let admin pay and organise, players play and smile. Both have to bite the bullet on all accounts. The cricketing world needs to help too. Assisting with ground preparation and upkeep, and buddying up with administration. Initially I wanted ICC to step in and bolster the management and finance sides, but if they do that then any cricket nation will have the rights to the same assistance.
In summary, WI cricket is skating on thin ice. It is sinking into the cracks left by other sporting options. And you can't changed demographics that change a sporting landscape. It's a sad thing yes, I love watching the likes of Big Bird, Master Blaster, Sir Garfield, Gayle, Richardson, Ambrose and all. What the cricketing world needs to do is help WI cricket bring new names into the forefront for the good reasons.