Western Grandstand | Why blame the female PE teachers, Prezi?

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March 03, 2018
Cameron
File Aguilleira
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Dave Cameron, the president of Cricket West Indies (CWI), is back in the news, and I am sure that his statements intimating that female physical education (PE) teachers are to be blamed for the lack of development in the region's cricket will not endear him to many fans, especially the women, who are now turning out to international games in increasing numbers.

I can understand Cameron's frustration with the current state of West Indies cricket, especially against the background of humiliating experiences such as our failure to secure automatic qualification for the upcoming ICC World Cup, and then getting beaten by Afghanistan in the build-up to the qualifying competition for the world cup.

As a former PE teacher who knows that, except for at the primary school level, where female PE teachers are sometimes assigned to teach male students football and cricket, I do not think that the situation is widespread enough to give credibility to Cameron's statement. Therefore, I would say that he is barking up the wrong tree.

Additionally, in stating that "most of them (female PE teachers) don't know cricket", in my opinion, is patently inaccurate, as based on my own experience, some of the women now pursuing studies in PE at the tertiary level are quite adept at cricket, which is why they are past their 'theory' and 'practical," to qualify as coaches.

To intimate that a male, by just being a male, has a better cricket brain than a female is clearly flawed, especially if one should factor in situations such as Donna Symmonds doing cricket commentary, Carole Beckford doing interviews on cricket; and former Windies female captain Merissa Aguilleira analysing the game.

What I think Cameron failed to mention, which is most obvious, is the fact that we no longer have enough stars to motivate and inspire our current generation of boys to gravitate towards cricket. In my days as a little boy playing cricket on the streets of my community with makeshift bats and balls, we used call ourselves Gary Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Lawrence Rowe, Clive Lloyd, Wes Hall, Vanburn Holder and Lance Gibbs, who were the stars at the time.

Today, except for Christopher Gayle, our cricket is completely devoid of real stars. As a consequence, our tall boys who are naturally built for fast bowling are now turning to basketball and not cricket. This is because top-flight basketballers such as Lebron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook are their idols.

What CWI really needs to do is to invest in the rebuilding of club cricket so that we can again have situations like in the 1970s, when a Senior Cup game between Melbourne and Kensington CC was like a 'mini test match,' with players like Lawrence Rowe, Herbert Chang, Desmond Lewis, Uton Dowe and Michael Holding providing the star power to attract youngsters to the game.

In those days when club cricket was alive and vibrant, young boys would rush home after school to their various communities in the afternoons to indulge in their passion - playing cricket. In districts where they were street lights, the games sometimes went on into the night as it was usually difficult to give up on the excitement.

So, instead of waiting on the International Cricket Council to come up with more innovative ways to grow the popularity of the game, CWI would do well to throw its weight behind a comprehensive programme to build cricket at the grass-roots level by distributing bats and balls and encouraging the formation of more cricket clubs. When I became a cricket fan in the 1970s, the Windies regularly struggled against the likes of England, Australia and New Zealand. However, we had stars who we could depend on to shine, especially against the then lesser teams such as India and Pakistan. What our cricket needs today are good role models to inspire more youngsters to play cricket.

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