We must stop the slide
Sir Hilary Beckles’ erudite and logical treatise with the title We Must Stop the Slide in WI Cricket, which was published in the Weekend Nation on Friday, April 13, reads great but is misleading.
It starts with an erroneous premise “The evidence of obvious failure emanates from the system of governance and accountability.”
This, by the way, is the very system that brought West Indies cricket to its peak in the first place, and labelling it colonial and antiquated is facile but is undeserving.
If there is a problem with Mr [Dave] Cameron, fix that problem rather than create more. He is probably where he is because of “public interference” in the first place.
Can you imagine what our cricket would be like if our civil servants were running it? Like the Barbados sewerage systems or our sick, dilapidated Government buildings. West Indies cricket is accountable to the regional associations and the cricketing community as it should be and making it accountable to the general public because it is a “public good” sounds great but is impractical.
The International Cricket Council is correct in insisting that cricket administrators be accountable to the cricketing community and not the general public despite the notion of “public good”.
The reality is that there has been no proper problem analysis (cause and effect) of West Indies’ cricket decline to justify the link with governance and accountability. When such an analysis is done, the real reasons surface and become obvious. A few are:
1. The decline started in the late 1980s after the English County Cricket administration banned West Indian professional cricketers from their arena, denying them that opportunity to develop and maintain their skills. West Indian cricketers’ need for a professional arena to develop and maintain their skills is reinforced by their performances in T20 cricket as a result of the opportunity to play in the Indian Premier League.
Anyone who thinks that good governance and accountability in West Indies cricket will be the magic wand to arrest the decline is wasting their thoughts. The inherent talent in our genes still needs to be developed.
What is needed is for the political leaders in the region to put some money where their mouths are in support of the struggling regional professional league that offers our young professional cricketers the opportunity to develop and maintain their skills.
2. The poor performance of the West Indies cricket secretariat, evidenced by such things as long delays in issuing contracts, is another. Just speak to some of the people who have any dealings with them. This has nothing to do with the governance structure.
3. Barbados has watered down the quality of its top level cricket with the apparent goal of “social inclusion” (sounds like “public good”) by increasing the number of our Division 1 teams. The standard of our first division cricket is now little better than the standard of our Intermediate level cricket 40 years ago. How can our international team do any better when the standard of our national competition is poor?
4. Our schools’ playing fields, once crowded, are now empty and sports talent is not being developed while schoolchildren are being bussed all over the country, developing a “bus culture” instead.
The problem with our people is that the majority want to sit and have everything done for them. They are not prepared to be involved and to contribute at the community level but will sit on the sidelines and bitch – for example, less than one per cent attend PTA meetings and few want to contribute to the Barbados Cricket Association or Barbados Cricket League.
Peter Webster is a retired portfolio manager of the Caribbean Development Bank and a former senior agricultural officer in the Ministry of Agriculture.