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FAZEER MOHAMMED: Talking tough for talking’s sake


FAZEER MOHAMMED: Talking tough for talking’s sake

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SHOCKED? Surprised?…Really?

It is all part of the prolonged self-destructive cycle of West Indies cricket that almost everyone has something to say about the latest “separation” of a coach from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

From Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell to commuters crammed into ZRs speeding into Bridgetown, the enormously popular pastime of heaping scorn and ridicule upon the administrators of the regional game is enjoying another successful run through the chain of territories stretched across the Caribbean Sea.

To what end, though? If nothing comes out of this latest convulsion to the extent of triggering a real and meaningful transformation in the governance of the game, then what’s the point of all this vitriol other than individuals trying to outdo each other in either the cleverness or emotional content of their contributions?

Circumstances are never exactly the same but we have passed this way many times before over the past 21 years, from Rohan Kanhai – the first appointed head coach of the senior men’s West Indies team – being replaced by Andy Roberts after his tour report from New Zealand in early 1995 highlighted incidences of indiscipline by senior players. So Phil Simmons being notified on the eve of flying out to the United Arab Emirates by outgoing WICB CEO Michael Muirhead that his services were no longer required is nothing new.

 Borrowed time

 In fact, it was clear that Simmons was on borrowed time from the moment of his similarly surreptitious suspension just before the tour of Sri Lanka a year ago for alleging “outside interference” in the selection process. His subsequent comments about a lack of communication with the WICB hierarchy and the inability to properly implement his own plans and strategies merely confirmed that it was not a case of if, but when the parting of the ways would occur.

We seem to take a special delight in poring over the minutiae of these developments, without properly addressing the root cause or the remedial measures that can slow the process of decay before the thought can even be entertained of the West Indies gradually emerging from more than two decades of Test cricket mediocrity.

You know why? Because, it seems, we can’t bring ourselves to the realisation that the consistent refusal of the WICB to engage in the fundamental governance reform that has been recommended by three separate reports over a seven-year period means that those clamouring for change need to either put up or shut up.

 Engineers of change

 “We can’t go on this way!” has been the cry for donkey’s years, but few are prepared to be the external engineers of change because of the potential consequences, like specific territories being eliminated from hosting international matches or, worse still, West Indies cricket being banished into the wilderness by the International Cricket Council if overt political interference were to become part of any attempt to force change upon the WICB.

It’s sort of like the dilemma of the afterlife: everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Everything worthwhile comes at a price and at this point, it doesn’t appear that West Indian people as a collective are prepared to pay the potential price for tackling the core issues that impact upon the successful rehabilitation of West Indies Test cricket head-on.

So the dialogue shifts to who will replace Simmons, as if the successor, functioning in an unchanged environment, has any chance of avoiding the fate that befell Kanhai, Simmons and so many in between. West Indies have had no fewer than 14 different head coaches of the senior men’s team over a period of 21 years.

That is not a process. That is madness, and the definition of madness holds true when the anonymous masses or personalities of prominence clamour for the appointment of such-and-such individual, deluding themselves with the notion that their anointed cricketing messiah can make the difference, can turn things around in the way that none of the late Malcolm Marshall, Sir Vivian Richards, Roger Harper, Gus Logie, Bennett King, David Moore, John Dyson, Ottis Gibson, Stuart Williams and Simmons were able to do.

In five days’ time the West Indies are scheduled to be on the field under lights at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Dubai, taking on Pakistan in the first of three T20 Internationals. Carlos Brathwaite and his team will excite with their explosive brand of cricket in keeping with their status as world champions. It may be tougher, but the Caribbean side will still be competitive in the three One-Day Internationals that follow.

Then the shortcomings and systemic deficiencies papered over by the abbreviated versions will be exposed in the three Tests that conclude the tour. Then the loud agonising for loud agonising’s sake will begin again, and nothing will change, because we like it so.


Fazeer Mohammed is a regional cricket journalist and broadcaster who has been covering the game at all levels since 1987.