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A THORNY ISSUE – Verbal volleys hurting psyche

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE – Verbal volleys hurting psyche

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The verbal war in West Indies cricket is having a demoralising effect right across the board and we need to stop it immediately.
Everyone is talking down to each other too much and trading insults like little children.
It sounds like the proverbial “cuss out” between people in a relationship when things go sour.
We have to do better than that because it’s only a unified approach that’s going to work. Cutting out the politics is a very good idea. 
It is time for the board, the players’ representatives, the coach and aggrieved players to sit down and work out their problems in a suitable environment instead of washing their mouths in public.
The drama may be good theatre and create great copy for the media but it is not good for the image of the sport.
When all the name calling is finished we will still be faced with the substantive headache of fixing West Indies cricket which is in a lame state.
It is a pity that controversy and failure have become mainstays of our game and this is contrary to the glorious past which includes world championship status in the mid-1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
If you had to ask  average cricket pundits, they would probably tell you that the legacy we are building at the moment is one of perennial division and washing of dirty linen in public.
Meantime, we have become one of the whipping boys of international cricket as we linger at the lower end of the rankings.
Is this what we want? Is this fair to those who set out in the mid-20s to put a positive face on cricket and by extension lay the foundation for some of the golden moments we have enjoyed?
Not only that, their yeoman service also raised our self-esteem immeasurably, especially coming from an era of colonialism which didn’t permit us to create our own identity.
Cricket was inadvertently one of the beacons that lit our paths towards independence.
When we proved that we could stand up against the might of the English and the Australians in cricket, I am sure it inspired others to show that we were ready in other spheres to take charge of our own destiny.
We always hear about the confidence that West Indians living in England as second-class citizens derived when their team thrashed the English at their own colonial shrine called Lord’s in 1950.
Of course, our dominance in the mid-70s further cemented this cause, as West Indians started to earn more respect in all areas of British life.
Our 15 years of dominance in cricket has no parallel in international sports. This fact made West Indians walk tall.
The opposite may now be true because we have been a shadow of ourselves since 1995 and it could be argued that it has deflated our self-esteem and our drive to be productive in our endeavours.
In recent times we have had track and field heroes to identify with, as far as exemplifying our inate ability to be excellent and to be world beaters, but cricket has generally been at the forefront in this regard.
It should be so easy then for our leading stakeholders in cricket – if they are students of the game ­– to recognize that we are breaking down the very foundation on which we once stood.
We are virtually cutting the same limb we are sitting on as we continue to fight among ourselves while undermining the cause of development and the road map of returning to the summit of world cricket.
Again, I ask how can we be so blind and insensitive to the hard work done by those who made many sacrifices to ensure our standard of play could stand the test against all comers?
And the thing is, they weren’t afforded the type of financial compensation and luxuries others now take for granted.
We need to have a period of introspection and a willingness to deal with our differences in a more civil and prudent way, otherwise cricket might one day be relegated to the back pages of our minds simply because people are getting tired and frustrated with the continuous bickering between administrators and players.
Surely we are at a critical stage where we need more affirmative action than talk.
Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.