May 8, 2021

Caricom and West Indies cricket

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Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 2.22.38 PMBy Steve Brown From Jamaica Observer

I have always held the view that the head of Caricom and the captain of the West Indies cricket team have the two most important jobs in the region, mainly because both positions are critical when it comes on to Caribbean unity and regionalism.

I will, however, hasten to say that the West Indies cricket team is probably the only remaining symbol of regionalism. The various campuses of the University of the West Indies has now implemented programmes which, in most cases, do not see their nationals going to other territories to study.

Against that background, if we believe in Caribbean unity, then we all must move apace to protect the brand we call the West Indies cricket team. It is rather painful to see the state of West Indies cricket at the moment. This certainly did not happen overnight, nor did it happen under this administration.

Apart from those of us who are not myopic and appear as if we have the panacea for the malady that seems to be plaguing West Indies cricket, the problem started when those who are responsible for developing grass-roots talent never had the vision to put in national programmes and former players failed to help develop young talent.

We can change the board for every tour, but if we do not have the talent, we are still not going anywhere with our cricket. How many of the present players on this West Indies team can make the 15-man squad of any of the top Test-playing teams in the world, let alone their starting 11?
Recently, the Caricom subcommittee on cricket had recommended that the board be disbanded and an interim body put in place to run West Indies cricket. Oops, Caricom, you got that one oh so wrong.

I am of the very strong view there is a genuine need for Caricom, and by extension regional governments, to get involved in West Indies cricket. However, the real intervention from Caricom needs to come in the following forms (and I am sure these are things they promised years ago) under the so-called cricket committee and the sports as a service committee.

1) Facilitate development in schools under their sports development programme by ensuring playing facilities are available for young cricketers.

2) Access to trained physical education teachers who have been trained in the last 10 years in a programme designed to scout, develop and hone talents.

3) Partner with corporate Caribbean to create a template for the business of cricket.

4) Have a West Indies Cricket Board representative sit on the Sport/Cricket Committee in Caricom. From my understanding Caricom is represented on the West Indies Cricket Board by Ricky Skerritt.

If Caricom had implemented some of these years ago, West Indies cricket would be better off today, and we could well be back on our way to where we belong.

Just a reminder to Caricom: In 1984 after seeing his Australian side being battered by the West Indies, Kim Hughes resigned in tears as captain. The Australian government stepped in and overhauled every aspect of their cricket, including developing grass-roots programmes and facilities. Not long after the Australians rose to the top of world cricket, and are still there. This is where Caricom needs to pay some keen attention.

On another note, I have also read about former cricketers who were world beaters in their time also attacking the board. Sadly, unlike the Australians and others from other cricket-playing nations, these West Indians contribute nothing to our cricket than talk. I have not heard of them trying to even run a two-week camp or even passing by a high school and offering tips to some youngsters.

Changing of the board while failing to provide the ideal atmosphere to develop and hone talent, combined with arrogance, will send West Indies cricket into non-existence.

Former players who fail to help and bodies that should do things they are empowered to do have suddenly become pious and preachy, and are now blaming the board for the current state of West Indies cricket. If they were to apply the same fervour in using their knowledge and powers to move the cricket forward, as they are doing with their invective criticisms of the board, the glory days would return.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Brown is an avid sportsman who works as a Police Superintendent and has both bachelors and masters degrees in media and communication. he can be contacted at [email protected]

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