Is there a 10 year plan to end WI participation as a unit in international cricket? I do not consider myself a conspiracy theorist, but I find it difficult, and also unwise, to ignore signals, that though ambivalent, tend to point more in one than in any other direction. I have been observing West Indian cricket carefully over nearly two decades, but perhaps most carefully over the last decade. Some of my letters to the editor about cricket have been published in a handful of Caribbean newspapers, especially in the Stabroek News of Guyana. There are frequently comments on those letters that help me gauge the sentiments about the game throughout the region. It is quite clear that followers of the game in the Caribbean are angry about the poor performances of the WI team, who have in some cases developed hostility towards most of the players, especially those who are seen as stars in professional twenty over cricket. The fans tend to attribute the failures of their team partly to the unwillingness of those ‘stars’ to make the financial sacrifices necessary to make themselves available to represent the region. In addition the fans tend to consider the players undisciplined, undertrained, and undignified.
The poor performance of the team in the first two matches of the current Australian tour has raised the criticisms of fans and journalists to new levels, and within those criticisms, one can discern, if not the desire, at least the acceptance of the need, to end West Indies cricket as we know it.
In an article by Tony Cozier, ‘Where to next for West Indies as a Test Team’, the author spoke of Darren Ganga`s observations six years ago on the nationalistic (insular?) views of players as follows:
“If you speak to any WI player, you will hear them talking about this special affiliation to their country …when you play for the country that you were born in and brought up in, and you sing your national anthem, it brings different individual spirit into you.” Cozier also noted that Baldath Mahabir, a former recently retired director of the WICB “spoke of his concerns that there may be no such thing as WI cricket within ten years”.
In another article referred to on the CaribbeanCricket.com website the following appears:
“Trinidad and Tobago have mooted a split to senior figures in the ICC … A breakaway within ten years ‘can’t be discounted’, Richard Pybus, the WI director of cricket, told Guardian Australia.”
It should not be overlooked that Pybus would have been considered by WI fans to have been hired to improve WI cricket, and therefore would have been aghast to have learnt of its impending demise, which would have caused much disappointment to him. That, obviously, was not observed by whoever did the interview.
Notably the interest in secession seems to be coming from Trinidad and Tobago, a country whose contribution of outstanding cricketers to WI cricket over its full term as a Test-playing nation, has probably not been commensurate with either its wealth or its population. It is, however, in terms of GNP, by far the richest of the countries involved. Its prospects as a contender in international cricket are likely considerably less than its most jingoistic citizens believe, although judging by their attitudes to soccer, where they should be advocating for an exemption to play as a unit, almost all the island countries seem to believe that size and resources do not matter much in international sport.
I have been for a long time of the view that the proper scheduling of international cricket would eliminate the problem of the unavailability of West Indian cricketers for Test cricket. That West Indian cricket officials have not fought hard for it, and that fans and journalists have not pushed the administrators more to fight for such scheduling, has always been baffling to me. I have always found it strange that, given the illustrious history of West Indies cricket, its supporters have tended to be so willing to accept demotion when they are in a slump.
I am really beginning to be scared.