The bureaucrats are killing the game

Caribbean cricket has been cruelly stripped of all of its pride and its prowess and has been turned into fodder for the contemporary giants of the game who now regard an encounter with the West Indies as a welcome break from tougher challenges. India had come to the region as vulnerable world champions and after their under-strength team had still managed to keep a mediocre Caribbean outfit at bay, they travelled to England where their suspect credentials were put into perspective by way of a complete and utter demolition at the hands of a rampant England side. As for the West Indies, their fate appeared well and truly sealed long before they arrived in London to engage the new and genuine world champions though, perhaps even to their own surprise, they managed to hold on to the second of the two T/20 games against the World Champions despite recording the lowest ever score (next to England’s losing score in the same match) in that form of competition at the Oval.

The reasons for the cataclysmic decline in the fortunes of Caribbean cricket have been examined inside out, over and over again. One of the conclusions that appears to have been reached is that we may well not care as much about the game these days as we once did. Perhaps the burdens and distractions associated with the social, economic and political challenges of the contemporary Caribbean now mean that we are no longer able to pay as much attention to the development of the game even though one would have thought that we would have spared no pains to preserve and to improve upon the one pursuit through which we had left a genuine footprint on the global stage.

Perhaps – and West indians are becoming more and more inclined to this view – the problem reposes in the contemporary bureaucratization of the game, the ascendancy of rules and rulers whose way of doing things bears a striking resmblance of what is often the mish-mash that passes for politics in the region.

These days it is the bureaucrats who loom large, whether they come from an inept West Indies Cricket Board, a feisty and aggressive West Indies Players Association (WIPA) or an intrusive clutch of Caribbean politicians who labour under the altogether mistaken illusion that they can do better at solving the problems of cricket than they have at solving the problems of the countries that they govern.

Some of the region’s Cricket Boards, like Guyana’s, mirror the quagmire inside which our cricket is caught fast. When all is said and done what is transpiring inside the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) has far more to do with the politics of control and the blind ambitions of men whose caring for the game is now wide open to question, than with the development of the game itself. Everywhere you look it is the same thing; power struggles that are simply throttling the life out of cricket.

Cricket, real cricket, has been left to fend for itself. With leadership that displays more of a propensity for feuding than for competent administration, the game cannot go forward; and when the make-believe administrators eventually lose their way we resort to the setting up of Commissions of Enquiry comprising “eminent men” whose eminence really has nothing to do with a real understanding of the problems of the game; those problems have to do with the practical pursuits of creating facilities and hiring coaches and ensuring the techniques and temperaments are honed to meet the requirements of the international stage.

Here in the Caribbean, perhaps moreso here in Guyana than anywhere else in the region, cricket has been reduced to sub-standard organized scraps and scrubbies that come nowhere near enough to preparing our players for the challenges of the international game.

There are times, recent times, when Caribbean teams have not only been outplayed but outclassed by superior opponents and the humiliation has reposed not so much in the loss of an encounter but in the recognition that, perhaps, the encounter ought not to have taken place at all.

Few circumstances epitomize the absurd depths to which the running of Caribbean cricket has sunk than the fact that the West Indies’ most popular, most capable player Chris Gayle, has been reduced to a cricketing carpetbagger, who, rather than being pressed into service in the cause of an otherwise altogether mediocre Caribben outfit, must, by his own admission, ply his trade here, there and everywhere while the WICB persists in its absurd pretence at building a new foundation out of what, in some cases, resembles woefully underprepared raw material; and because the game is run by men an rules that protects it from rational intervention, we must continue to be pained witnesses to the charade.

One seriously doubts that if you ask the average Caribbean cricket fan to pronounce on the problems between Gayle and the Board, they either know or care what those problems are.

They believe – and they are correct in their belief – that those problems are the fault of rules and, more importantly, rulers who have placed their dead, bureaucratic hands on the game and have cursed it. Rather than confine themselves to providing the game with the infrastructure that is so badly lacking and leave the rest to the expertise of the coaches and the ambitions of the youngsters, the rulers, officials and politicians alike, prefer to impose themselves on every aspect of the game, sometimes seeming inclined to even don their cricketing ‘whites’ and take the field. This is not to say that we have no need for a GCB, a WICB or a WIPA; what is disconcerting, however, is that the men in suits now run the game as though it were a private fiefdom while the players who make the game are reduced to a condition akin to serfdom.

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