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A THORNY ISSUE – Cricket at the crossroads

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE – Cricket at the crossroads

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These days it seems that West Indies cricket is about bragging rights.
Who talks most and loudest must be guaranteed a prize.
Who projects the biggest ego gets to be king of West Indies cricket.
This is the way it seems to me since the team returned from the World Cup in Asia.
Coach Gibson opened the bowling by stating that he was expecting more from the senior players and didn’t get it.
Characteristically, pugnacious opener Chris Gayle responded by saying that the coach was looking for scapegoats to blame for the team’s failure.
Dependable middle order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul joined the fray by stating that his character was being attacked as he had always given his best for the West Indies.
When Gayle was not considered for the visit by Pakistan he went off to the IPL and from there blasted the regional cricketing authorities on Jamaican radio Klass FM.
The measure of his verbal assault was so fiery that it forced the West Indies Cricket Board, through its chief executive officer Dr.Ernest Hilaire, on the defensive.
WIBC executive member Professor Hilary Beckles marked out his run and with some venom  knocked everything from behind Gayle with his now famous “Donism” speech, but was made to apologise for the comments he made in Antigua in a private capacity when he delivered the annual Sir Frank Worrell lecture.
It would have been impossible for former West Indies leg-spinner Dinanath Ramnarine turned president of the players association, not to try confusing his opponents with some googlies.
It would appear that even a meeting called to cool the fires between Gayle and the board became an arena for more pace like fire in Babylon.
Calls for apologies countered by promised litigation dominated the aftermath of what seemed to be a very hostile and bruising battle which didn’t serve the intended purpose.
In fact, it appeared to make matters worse for Gayle who was not picked for any games against the Indians.
In another rampant knock, the former captain begged the CARICOM heads to intervene in the impasse as he implied this might be his only chance to play for the West Indies again.
He got no respite from Hilaire and Gibson both of whom said with identical deliveries that Gayle knows what’s the name of the game if he wants to return to the regional side.
The point is that all of the protaganists are somehow failing to see that with the daily diet of uncompromising rhetoric, they are helping to undermine the very institution they all claim to love.
The continuous fight from within is causing the most harm to a structure that has gone from granite to paper in the past 15 years.
We have fallen from No. 1 to as low as No. 8 and we are still fighting among ourselves.
Our international opponents are glad for the help when they face us. They beat us and still we aren’t learning that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Yet we are supposed to be on the same mission – to revive West Indies cricket and make it the envy of the world again.
Gayle, Gibson, Ramnarine, Hilaire, Beckles and company have the same hymn sheet, but they need schooling about singing in harmony.
They brag and pontificate while we weep, drowning in our own tears for a good institution gone bad.
Babylon has the fire now!
Andi Thornhill is sports editor of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.