Board must prepare for a new day in West Indies cricket

Dear Editor,

The people who control the WICB  have the power to either end West Indies cricket as we used to know it, or to revive it in a manner that would make us again a competitive cricket country. Those people have the power to destroy, but they do not have the right to use that power. Admittedly West Indies cricket has been in some sort of decline for most of  the last two decades. With due respect to those who write or speak with deep knowledge of the game, much of the decline can be explained by reference to the cyclical nature of human activity, and management  complacency in the face of a widespread, though uncoordinated, effort by bigger countries to end  West Indian dominance. Some of it, though, has been the consequence of recklessness and perversity in the administration of the game, evidenced by what can best be described as a continuing war by the administration against those players who are seen as “stars”, and a failure to put in place the support systems absolutely essential for success in international sport in this day and age.

There have been some critical events in the last 5 years or so that encapsulate the danger signals, and yet point in the direction of possible solutions:

1-The Indian fiasco, which was essentially a breakdown in communications between management and players that led to the cancellation of a tour, and the threat of a US$40 million lawsuit. Sadly so far the only lesson apparently learned by management was the need for punishment of players while protesting that punishment was not being meted out. The incident  provided an opportunity to learn about the management-player relationship that was not seized.

2-The selection of a totally inexperienced young cricketer, Jason Holder, as captain for the 2015 world cup 50-over series, and the exclusion of 2 of the best limited overs all round cricketers, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, justified by blatant misrepresentation. The decisions led to the widespread belief that there were no limits to the mendacity of the board.

3-Victories in the men`s T20 world tournament, the under 19 boys’ 50-over world tournament and the ladies 50-over world tournament, all in the same year 2016, an unbelievable opportunity for healing and consolidation, from which the most memorable result was the sacking of the captain of the men`s 20-over team, one of the most popular modern West Indian cricketers, who was also the winning captain  in 2012.

4-Suspending and firing coach Phil Simmonds on the eve of two tours. There were a lot of reasons to believe that Simmonds would have been a successful coach, not the least of which were his popularity with the players and his thoughtfulness. After the firing, the CEO of the WICB said  he could not understand why the dismissal of one individual could have had  a significant impact on the team`s performance; perhaps the best evidence of  why that CEO should never have had that position.

5-The circumstances around the sacking of the leading batsman, Darren Bravo.

That young man was demoted from a salary category which he never had attained, by a president who was ignorant of the category in which the player actually was. When the player reacted in anger by the use of insulting language that emphasised  the president`s ignorance, he was sacked despite having publicly made personal financial  sacrifices in the interest of the region`s cricket.

6-Persisting with selection criteria that renders impossible the selection of either the best or an experienced side to represent the region. All recent executives retained by the board have acknowledged the wrongheadedness of that policy.

We are at the crossroads, as we are now required to participate in a tournament with mostly associate countries for the right to play in the 2019 50-over world cup, a tournament from which we were never excluded ,and twice won.. The board must assemble  our active cricketers who have competed successfully internationally, the promising young players, along with specialist coaches and sports psychologists to prepare for a new day in West Indies cricket. There must be no exclusionary or inclusionary criteria not based on merit, and the administrators must accept that their egos and their need to control have little or no place in our cricket.

Yours faithfully,

Romain Pitt

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