West Indies Cricket at the Crossroads
July 13, 2009 will go down as a dark day in West Indies cricket for that was the infamous day they were beaten by 95 runs by visiting minnows Bangladesh. The home team was in a contract dispute with the governing board and went into the match missing 13 of their top players.
I believe that this is good for cricket, and for the nations that form the West Indies cricket team. Why do I make such an outlandish statement? Simple. Cricket is too important to the region to be ignored. The present impasse presents a unique opportunity for both sides in the dispute, as well as the fans, to take a reality check on the game of cricket.
West Indies in their heyday was to cricket what Brazil is to soccer; what the Williams sisters are to tennis; and what Tiger Woods is to golf, with some reggae and soca and calypso added. Yea man! The guys from the islands add flair, gusto, bravery, fight, passion, and raw talent to the polite game with a playing field in England called Lord’s.
The list of West Indian cricketing heroes goes way back to people like Sir Frank Worrell, Wes Hall, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Brian Lara…stop me somebody.
No, I can’t go on and on at all, for the simple reason that round about the mid 1990’s or earlier the generation of winners just up and ended. Just like that. And the once mighty West Indies are now in the headlines for the wrong reasons. I mean there are still a few fellas who try to play ball: Shivnarine Chanderpaul... Shivnarine Chanderpaul…who else, perhaps Dwayne Bravo on his day?
Will the real West Indies cricket team please raise their hands? Not you Chris Gayle! Nor you Chanderpaul! Wow but you guys are like in top ten or something so why aren’t you in the West Indies squad announced for ICC trophy? Or even in the Test team playing Bangladesh in the summer 2009 Digicel Home Series? That was just a rhetorical question. I know. And I understand.
Chris Gayle I understand your dilemma more than you think. You are a revolutionary. You see that test cricket is as good as dead about fifty years too early so right now you look like a traitor to the game. That’s because you need public relations friend, spin. You can’t just up and announce death knell for a distinguished sporting tradition like that and all that and filthy Stanford money dripping out of you pocket.
Your approach shouts lack of class. And in cricket class is everything. Cricket was one way for the marginalised colonies to come to the table and prove equality with the best of club. Now you up and pick up your marbles and walk away from the game because there is a new formula in town called limited overs cricket. If you were patient you could have your cake and eat it. Just play along with the old club tie, and the media market would have taken care of itself. New Allan Stanfords are waiting in the wings. Thrill the TV audience with test victory after test victory and you will make money for sponsors; then you could rewrite the books on the both the long and short forms of the game.
Remember this too. A failure can’t afford to be a maverick. West Indies cricket team has been failing for about two decades. If you guys could get it right for a test series or two, and then insist on the shortened form of the game, you might sound reasonable.