ALL AH WE IS ONE: Lessons of WI cricket
It is not very often that events unfold with such rapidity that they validate the urgent pleadings of far-sighted intellectuals (prophets) within their very lifetimes. However, the recent events in West Indies cricket, starting first with the untimely calling of Sunil Narine for a suspect bowling action, and later the players’ strike in mid-tour, have now confirmed the pleadings of some of our brightest thinkers.
For years, our very own Sir Hilary Beckles had warned that the age of globalisation, neo-liberalism and individual greed would clash with the nationalistic ethic upon which the idea of West Indies cricket team is legitimised. None of this mattered, however, to those who were drunk on the neo-liberal poison of the “players’ right to make money” and those who gloried in small island pettiness and one-upmanship.
At no time were these tensions more evident than under the Hunte-Hilaire-Beckles West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) period and the Gibson-Sammy cricketing leadership. Then, the pundits could not see beyond the
St Lucian nationality of the key individuals. Ironically, when a Jamaican chief executive officer, president and West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) chief were appointed, the analysis shifted to one of optimism that with an all-Jamaican cast, the problems in West Indies cricket would be resolved.
Subsequent events should embarrass all into realising that petty island consciousness is a false analytical framework for understanding West Indies cricket. Springing from Sir Hilary’s deeper analysis, it should have been realised that a central concern of all cricketing nations was the need to resolve the tensions arising from the pressures from lucrative non-state cricketing franchises and the loyalties of players to their nations. All of the
so-called conflicts which emerged during the Hunte-Hilaire period can be traced to unfolding of these tensions.
The Cameron presidency, from its very emergence to its early decisions, represented a promise to accommodate
the players to the lure of money. Any questions of the [shortcomings] of the new leadership, as seen for example in the botched exclusion of the CCC from a regional tournament, were ignored by our cricket pundits, happy to see the backs of the scapegoated Hunte-Hilaire leadership. However, with greed and opportunism, the devil always demands his pound of flesh. Despite his consistent snubbing of West Indies cricket for the IPL, it was almost painful to see Narine fall on an IPL and Indian sword. Similarly, it is their Indian paymasters who appeared to have been most angered by the player strike and are now threatening to withhold work from the errant “field hands”.
So the contradictions inherent in neo-liberal individualistic greed have now exploded, and the promised era of WICB-WIPA “one love” has now proven to be the lowest point in West Indies cricket.
As in the deeper crisis of West Indian society, we are being forced to confront the contradictions of neo-liberalism. Our societies are demanding a solution.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.