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THORNY ISSUE: Illiteracy comment a false stroke


ANDI THORNHILL

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IN THE search for a solution to the problems of West Indies cricket I think foot-in-the-mouth disease is becoming an epidemic. 
The former chief executive officer of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dr Donald Peters, suffered from it, and his successor, Dr Ernest Hilaire, has the symptoms. 
This is my conclusion after he made the reference to illiteracy among some players who recently represented the West Indies at the recent World Youth Cup in New Zealand. The comment was part of Hilaire’s contribution to a panel discussion on West Indies cricket held at the Cave Hill Campus recently. He appeared to be in lethal verbal form, and truth is, he made some relevant, telling points about our future in the game.
One such insight was that it could take as many as three years to turn the corner; for we seem so far behind the eight-ball that it will take time to close the gap between ourselves and the top tier.
However, I think he could have chosen his words far more carefully in making out a case why it might be hard to find adequate replacements for those who continue to fail but manage to keep their place in the senior team.
Of course, he didn’t mention the names of the players who can’t read or write, but wouldn’t it be an indictment on the system to know of this kind of weakness among some of the players and include them in a regional team, only for a high-ranking official to make note of it after the fact?In fact, it begs the question if any of these players made any meaningful contribution to the team’s performance at the Youth World Cup?
And if they did, what is the relevance of such a statement by the CEO?
In fact, it can be seen as a slap in the face of those who can read and write but are still coming up short in terms of their concentration and particularly their ability to assess game situations and strategise and execute accordingly.
And mind you, some Test players of recent vintage have had the benefit of a university education and you can wonder if they applied any higher thought processes in the middle than players of lesser learning or no learning at all.
One might argue there were some players back in the day who weren’t academically inclined but still made their mark for the West Indies because they applied their knowledge of the game appropriately.
My point is that West Indies cricket needs individuals who can assess game situations and work to suit – whether you have a sound education or not.
I accept that the educational component is important in problem solving, and I want to encourage it, but a dose of simple common sense usually finds the answers to questions and situations that seem complex and unconquerable.
Besides, are we not duty-bound to embrace talented players who may be weak in the area of personal development?
The solutions to issues like these are in the hands of executives like Dr Hilaire who will be seen as part of the problem if remedies aren’t found  for the ills that continue  to weaken West Indies cricket.
We need to face facts, but we must not let frustration cause us to belittle some in the ranks who might very well become the chief builders in the reconstruction of West Indies cricket.
Alas, I contend once again that passion and a profound respect for our legacy are the twin towers that will assist greatly in the remedial process – short, medium and long term.
There is great power in the word. We need to choose ours carefully.• Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He can be reached at andithornhill @yahoo.com

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