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The farce we call West Indies cricket
Published on March 3, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Lester B. Bird
Former prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and former member of the West Indies Cricket Board

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- If there was any doubt about the incompetence of the West Indies cricket administration or hope of a resurrected West Indies, the scheduling of the forthcoming Australian tour provides ample evidence of an organization that suffers from both incompetence and insensitivity.

Three ODls are to be played in St Vincent; three ODls are to be played in St Lucia and a test match in Dominica. In other words over fifty percent of the matches would be played in a grouping whose population represents less than 8% of the cricket loving population of the English speaking Caribbean.

If the argument is the cost, then it is improbable to think that a third one day in St Lucia, or a third one day in St Vincent would be more profitable than a single one day in a more populated country such as Jamaica or even Antigua. Given the fact that Jamaica is so far in the north and it is costly for Jamaicans to travel to the other parts of the Caribbean I think that Jamaica should always be included in a touring cricket itinerary.

It does appear that, true to the management style of the West Indies Cricket Board, it is a decision to punish Jamaica for its decision to pick Gayle for national duty. This schedule is blatantly insensitive and irrational.

I wish to touch on the point of the response of Dr Hilliare to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller. In his response he indicated that she did not know the facts and even referenced how she should deal with a cabinet minister was at variance with her administration.

Let me say to Dr Hilliare, your response was disrespectful. You and the Prime Minister of Jamaica are not of the same rank. If you wish to be involved in matters of this level you need some advice or training in diplomacy. We must maximize the power of cricket as an integrating force and use it to bind us as Caribbean people not divide us.

In respect of the Gayle matter it is time the WICB take the lead to come to an amicable solution to this outstanding matter. The problem began when the coach Otis Gibson ill-advisedly and unprofessionally castigated senior members of the West Indies team publicly. Had Gibson been a coach to an Australian team or English team or any other test team he would never have tried that or, if he had, he would have been fired summarily. It was an act that demonstrated his lack of understanding of the art of or skills of human relations.

Naturally, the senior players reacted: Shivnarine Chanderpaul threatened to take the WICB to court, Chris Gayle made his criticisms public and Sarwan’s own self confidence has been badly affected and probably permanently shattered. The root of the problem is obvious.

The WICB selected a player who by any reasonable standards is a journeyman as captain. It baffles my imagination how a group of selectors could select a player of mediocre calibre and expect him to lead by example and inspire our team to move up the ranks of world cricket and give him a two year contract to boot. A privilege never granted to any other captain, so one does not have to go to grammar school to understand the old boy’s club syndrome that now rules West Indies cricket.

In fact, Sammy informed us that captaincy is overrated. In other words Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, the great Frank Worrell did not accomplish anything of note as they were carrying out a task that is largely overrated. Sammy then targets 2015 for the West Indies team to be number five in the rankings. If you are driven by such a low level of self-esteem that three places up the rank in four years is an acceptable target, then the WICB also have a problem of proper planning and organization.

Our cricket is in a sad, very sad state. It is clear that this bunch of leaders cannot take our cricket anywhere. There is a saying that if you want the same result keep doing the same thing that you are accustomed to doing. We in the West Indies want a winning result and we want a winning formula, not the management structure that represents failure.

Finally, I want to make a call for the reinstatement of Chris Gayle. As far as I am concerned, he is more valuable to our cricket that Julian Hunte, Dr Ernest Hilliare, Otis Gibson and Sammy singly and collectively. A team derives market value and draws crowds from two things: either the team is formidable and has a winning record or it has batting or bowling stars that draw crowds. Today we have neither. We need a new structure to propel West Indies cricket forward and we need it urgently.

I wish to make a few suggestions:

(1) In respect of the allocation of games to the various countries of the Caribbean, this should cover as many countries as possible. No country should host more than two matches. This policy ensures that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the electrifying effect of being able to see and enjoy the atmosphere of cricket.

(2) The allocation of games to as many countries as possible serves to contribute to the development and interest of cricket in the total Caribbean

(3) The West Indies should name a captain for each format of the game. It makes no sense to force a player into a format for which he is not suited simply because he is the captain

(4) The WICB must find a formula to improve decision making and for establishing accountability. Without accountability it is difficult to monitor performance. It is strange that the WICB demands accountability of its players but they themselves remain unaccountable

(5) The post of president of the West Indies cricket should not be held for more than two terms, period.

Gibson should have been able, as good coaches do, to renew and re-energize senior players as Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Chanderpaul and Bravo, deepen their commitment to the development of West Indies cricket and themselves. Instead he has alienated them and I am sure many others who for fear have failed to come forward. It is clear that these are not happy times and it is also clear that Gibson is not a good coach, having failed the test to prove his ability to manage senior players who do have their own strong personalities, he tries to convince us that the future of West Indies cricket lies with a bunch of inexperienced young players. The problem is his own personality and, frankly speaking, incompetence and unprofessionalism.

When a coach is chosen for an American basketball team, the main skill required of the coach is to manage egos such as Kobe Bryan, Lebron James, etc. and mould them into an effective team. Our coach has failed miserably in this.
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Wade Kojo Williams, Sr.:
Mr Bird, I agree with nearly everything you write about the dotish, arrogant, vindictive, incompetent WICB.

It is significant the your are now the third CARICOM Prime Minister/former Prime Minister to speak out against these jokers, in recent times.

Where we disagree is with your claim that because islands have small populations, their loyal West Indies cricket fans should not see first class games played on their shores.

Let me speak only for my beloved SVG. We have given West Indies cricket more players and administrators than has Antigua. SVG gave you Mikey Findlay - arguably the best West Indies Wicket Keeper of all time. We gave you Alfie Roberts, Winston Davis and Cameron Cuffy and was cheated out of giving you FO Mason.

On the administration side, we gave you first class administrators like Frankie Thomas, Milton Cato, Lennox John and Mikey Findlay. Our professionals stood head and shoulder above the jokers who run things at the WICB today.

We provide you with a first class facility - Arnos Vale Playing Field. The environment in SVG is so hospitable, that it seems Arnos Vale is the only ground, where the West Indies team performs well over the last number of years.

Mr Bird - my FaceBook friend - laws have been put in place in democratic societies to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

Our country of 110, 000 deserves to have first class/Test Matches. We have the facilities and we have loyal West Indies fans.

Should I make a case for LIAT Headquarters to be taken out of Antigua because Barbados and SVG have a combined population four times that of Antigua?

Let's look at populations: Antigua - 72,000; Barbados - 275,000 and SVG - 110,000.

Go after the dotish "breadfruit board". Leave SVG alone. We deserve the three ODIs we are hosting later this month.

Hudson George:

A young fella who is 6 ft 7 inches tall in the English Speaking Caribbean region that plays cricket, wants to be a Kobe Byrant. He do not want to be the next Curtly Ambrose, so he waste his sporting prime years playing Basketball.

We cannot blame WICB for the disaster of our cricket. We have to blame our youths who become Americanised.

I think that Sammy is blessed. He is trying his best. As for the other political things in the cricket, I think it is all about pride and who suppose to control things.

The big question is: How good was the West Indies Cricket Team before Sammy as the skipper?

Where is the open playing field?

St. Lucians, Vincentians and Dominicans have the rights to host West Indies VS Australia.

Want is the big deal?

Large population means a lot in terms of people going to the games, but not all the time. Citizens in the OECS countries like cricket and nothing is really wrong in giving them the opportunity to see like cricket while they sit as spectators in the crowd.

Lee M:
It is interesting that the Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers can comment on the issue and even make suggestions, but the irony is these very same persons who have or has been at the helm of the CARICOM in one form or another have done nothing to improve the standard of cricket in the West Indies .

They were too busy enrching themselves and their friends and did not have time for what they claim is the one unifying force in the Caribbean.

They have also stood by and watched their colleagues in other islands run roughshod over their people and said nothing all in the name of not wanting to interfere in the internal politics of these countries but yet they go and speak at conventions of those ruling parties and endorse what they are doing even though the masses in those countries are crying out.

What they need to do is concentrate on creatng the enabling environment for the people in the Caribbean to live comfortable lives and leave the administration of the Sports to the sports organizations.


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