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A THORNY ISSUE: Hope Bajans can change WI fortunes

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Hope Bajans can change WI fortunes

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HOW WILL THE apparent Barbadianisation in leadership positions work for the benefit of West Indies cricket?

It is quite noticeable that in recent times several Bajans have been elevated to senior positions on and off the field.

It makes you wonder if it is just coincidental or purely strategic, based on past evidence that when Barbados’ cricket is strong, West Indies cricket is strong.

I don’t think either is strong at the moment, but the rebuilding of the various teams is very much a work in progress so we can reach the destination we aspire to.

The aim is to get back to the top of world cricket, or least to be much more competitive in the longer forms of the game. Some are thrilled that West Indies are World T20 champions, but the purists will continue to judge their progress based on how they do in Test and One-Day cricket to a lesser extent, notwithstanding that the shortest form of the sport is the most popular by far.

In plotting the road map to redemption, there has to be a strategy and there are clear signals that the Barbadian input has been identified as a potential valuable asset.

Jason Holder was made captain of the Test and One-Day teams after the players’ revolt in India in 2014. This move was regarded by some as part of the punishment for those who were regarded as ring leaders in the unprecedented abandoned tour.

Just recently Carlos Brathwaite was named skipper of the T20 squad.He became the replacement for the successful captain Darren Sammy who led the side to two world titles, but apparently paid a big price for criticising the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) at the presentation ceremony at this year’s final in India.

In the mix

Courtney Browne is the chief selector taking over from another legend, Clive Lloyd, and a number of Bajans are in the mix for selection on all the squads, a far cry from some years ago when the average Barbadian supporter was wondering why their compatriots were being overlooked when it appeared that they merited selection.

In essence, you could say that there has been a massive U-turn in favour of Barbadians.Typically, the complaints and the moaning have stopped and there are suggestions about how many more Bajans have the credentials to make the squad.

At one time I reasoned that the selection panel, headed by Browne, wanted people who would have the back of Holder, based on the premise of insularity, and, if nobody else, it’s his own who would do the job.

And things have worked out too in some instances to justify this thinking. Miguel Cummins has filled his fast bowling role well and has even been signed by English County Worcestershire from next season; Roston Chase has impressed as a budding all-rounder with a five-wicket haul and a maiden Test hundred against India and Shane Dowrich has made a couple good scores since the controversial dropping of wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

Performance counts

On the flip side, Brathwaite was dropped from the Test side, showing that performance, not nationality, would count in retention of your place.

Maybe, after all, Browne also wanted to prove that there will be no bias in who the selectors choose to play. If that was the case, the point was well made, shrewdness at its very best.

Others I have spoken to see Garner’s managerial post as another grand political ploy by WICB president Dave Cameron. He was challenged by Garner in the last election.

The irony in this is that Garner is still the president of the Barbados Cricket Association and questions have been raised on how efficiently he can multi-task in the two positions.

It could be a tribute, too, to the stability and the defusing of the many tribal wars that Garner has brought to the local body since he took over as leader.

Human resources skills

Perhaps, the WICB took note and that’s the real reason he got the managerial nod, so his elevation may have to do more with his human resources skills than Cameron’s political manoeuvring.

Let’s face it, the heavy dependence on Bajans to provide outstanding guidance and vision is well documented. We maintain that the best governance of the WICB happened when it was headquartered here. I don’t expect too many dissenting voices, even from our neighbours, on this assertion.

The contribution of our cricketers have been well documented and people still marvel how a country of Barbados’ size managed to produce so many legends.

In fact, it should be noted that the first true West Indies champion teams were led by Barbadians – Sir Frank Worrell (1960-63) and Sir Garfield Sobers, who took over the reins in 1965.

They have set very high standards and created a legacy which the current generation must be mindful of. It is crucial that they know their history because it can build a foundation for their own success.

The influx of Bajans in the present set up could provide another positive turning point in regional cricket once they justify the confidence placed in them.

• Andi Thornhill is a veteran sports journalist.