Western Grandstand : WI cricket needs a total revamp

June 03, 2017
Contributed Andr e Russll bowls in training.

Western Bureau:

While the plan to revisit the eligibility criteria for selecting players for the West Indies ODI team is a signal that the protracted period of having mediocre players representing the region could be coming to an end, I am not about to join those heaping praise on the West Indies Cricket Board for finally seeing the light.

Any policy that seeks to exclude the region's best players from the team makes the board guilty of undermining the region's bid to climb back into the top echelons of world cricket, a position we once occupied with pride.

I don't believe this belated change of heart was sparked by a desire to ring in positive change. I am instead inclined to believe it is a subtle reaction to the embarrassing situation we have found ourselves in as the only so-called established cricket nation not to have qualified for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

While we clearly have the quality players that we had in the era of Clive Lloyd and the champion cricketers who ruled supreme, and had arch-rivals such as England and Australia regularly grovelling at our feet, I still believe that if we utilise our best available talent, we would be competitive against the top teams, not languishing in the cellar with the likes of Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

It is baffling beyond belief that sane minds could conjure up a situation where Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell, who all have significant global respect, could find themselves ineligible on the sideline, while players who should be in the stands as spectators are out in the middle representing the region.

While it is true that anything is possible, I simply cannot envisage any scenario, outside of possibly treason, which could cause India, which has easily the best talent pool in the world, from selecting Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, once they are fit.

It is no wonder that fans in the Caribbean, who are supposed to provide the energy our players need to feed off, have abandoned our cricket out of frustration and disappointment with issues such as inept leadership by the WICB, a disastrous selection policy and the sidelining of our only genuine stars.




While I can understand the board's desire to have a high-quality domestic league, it also needs to realise that our stars need to earn as much as they possibly can from their talent when they are in demand. Additionally, I believe the global T20 tournaments are the best preparation our players could get ahead of going out to represent us.

I believe it would be bordering on lunacy for a player to abandon an opportunity to be financially secure in favour of competing in a local domestic league which offers very little remuneration. In addition, playing in a substandard league could create a false sense of security for players who need quality opponents to improve.

Instead of seeking to limit the players' earning capacity, the board would be better served trying to find creative ways to schedule the region's domestic competitions outside of the window reserved for international T20 tournaments. To me, that is the only way we will be able to secure the services of our best players on a consistent basis.

Personally, my greatest wish is to see the board soften its nonchalant attitude towards our top stars and bring an end to the destructive acrimony, which is primarily responsible for the bad blood that has caused talented players such as Darren Bravo to be out in the cold gathering rust while our cricket is suffering from the want of talent.

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