A THORNY ISSUE: WICB should take a hint
THE SUCCESS of the Under-19 team should serve as the fillip West Indies cricket needs, especially in terms of its governance.
Surely, the recent conquest was achieved in spite of what has been less than inspirational leadership from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Despite all the sweet talk at the celebratory functions on the team’s return from Bangladesh, we know that the WICB has a long way to go in putting its house in order.
This much was referenced to by chairman of CARICOM, Freundel Stuart, who said that Heads of Government are so concerned about the state of governance of regional cricket, that they are considering approaching the International Cricket Council (ICC) on the matter. Maybe they are losing hope in trying to find some light at the end of the tunnel with the current administration.
I am not sure how such an approach would help in preventing all of the wheels from falling off the proverbial wagon, but it would make the point that the Caribbean Heads are speaking for a wide cross section of frustrated fans throughout the region.
In most cricket matters, it appears as if astiff-necked stance is being taken by leading WICB officials in resolving issues that have come to the public’s attention. It is as if no other voice or opinion but their own is relevant.
Therein, I suppose, lies one of the key reasons why cricket’s governance seems to be on a very sticky wicket. However, it should be remembered that no man is an island and that no individual has a monopoly on ideas.
West Indies cricket has mass appeal and, by right, all objective and reasonable suggestions put on the table by kings, prime ministers or commoners, should be considered by the leadership of the WICB.
Perhaps, their perceived arrogance is causing more damage than they realise. Volumes have been spoken when a third party that actually oversees the sport, might be invited to have a say in what is essentially our business.
But morale surrounding regional cricket must now be at its highest for ages and this is why I believe all stakeholders must seize the moment to reflect on how much more can be achieved if we are better organised. It must begin at the top because, as the saying goes, if the head is bad, it affects the entire body.
We are not only to ride on the success of the Under-19 World Cup champions, but to use it as a wake-up call on paving a much smoother course going forward and plotting more strategically, how to be counted among the world’s heavyweights once more.
While our foes are happy to beat us, they are still very disappointed in the meek manner we are succumbing in the heat of the battle. Most of the performances, particularly by the Test team since the late 1990s, have not reflected the pride, passion and success we had before this era.
If the outsiders aren’t pleased about our deteriorating standards, why should we be? After all, West Indies are still talked about for their uniqueness and flair, similar to what Brazil brings to football.
Even in the aftermath of humbling the Brazilians at the last World Cup, the champions Germany didn’t do a full song and dance out of respect for what the Brazilians have given to the game. I feel that there’s also that sense of empathy for West Indies cricket among their peers.
International cricket needs a competitive West Indies side based moreso on historical grounds than for economic gains. Our brand is still sacrosanct and revered despite our uphill struggles and fall from grace, mainly at Test level.
However, let’s not sit idly by and feel sorry for ourselves. We have the ingenuity and power to turn it around. The Under-19s made that statement of intent in Bangladesh and that’s among the reasons they are World champions. We must all make a big effort to follow their lead.
Not only that, most people I’ve spoken to about their achievement, noted that they played as a team, conjuring up memories of the units led by Sir Frank Worrell, Clive Lloyd and Sir Viv Richards.
We know where we have to start and I hope the WICB in particular can take a hint.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.