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Time to end Windies selection debacle

Published: 
Saturday, March 11, 2017

West Indies fans have been down this path before—yet another series, yet another whitewash by an opponent we once dominated. But it is hoped that this latest effort by Jason Holder’s men—a 3-0 series rout at the hands of the visiting England side, will cause some introspection throughout the cricketing fraternity.

Indeed, several top cricket affcianados would have watched the 186-run defeat debacle at the Bajan mecca of cricket on Thursday, including the great Sir Garfield Sobers, in whose honour one of the stands at the venue was named.

No doubt, at least one of the excuses coming by now would have been the fact that the side is young and inexperienced. Newly-appointed coach Stuart Law also tried to put up a brave face in post-match interviews, saying his side could take solace in the fact that England oncer stood in their position.

“Two years ago at the World Cup, England were in a pretty big hole. But they’ve gone back, changed the way they play, the way they’ve approached every game and it has started to work for them.

“It’s an amazing transformation in two years. I’m hoping in two years’ time we can sit down and say something’s happening to revive West Indies cricket, something to get us competitive against these bigger teams,” Law said.

The Australian coach must be a supreme optimist, however, as he seems totally blind to at least one of the major issues affecting the West Indies’ hopes of improving on the world stage—the poor talent pool available and the reasons which have led to this.

In the first instance, the West Indies selection panel seems to be hostage to the whim and fancy of West Indies Cricket board president and CEO Dave Cameron. His off-field battles with some of the region’s best players and subsequent ‘silent’ sanctions against them for speaking out, have served to decimate the already small talent pool.

T&T fans would be all too familiar with the Darren Bravo fiasco, which is yet unresolved following their off-field spat last year. Bravo, who had been a constant in both Test and ODI sides, now stands on the sidelines, forced to ply his trade in foreign leagues while Cameron continues to play with words on whether he has been banned from the regional side or not.

Bravo is not the only player who has been confined to the cricketing doghouse in the wake of some sort of tiff with Cameron and other board members. Indeed, the current Windies hierarchy, and Cameron in particular, is now notorious for poor player/management relationships and bust ups, many of which have led to sanctions for the players—with the likes of Chris Gayle, the Bravo brothers Darren and Dwayne, former skipper Darren Sammy and Sunil Narine to name a few—all having suffered from the attacks against them by the employers and the repercussions for challenging the WICB’s executive’s backward method of thinking.

Secondly, an eligibility clause which makes it compulsory for players seeking selection on the team to play in the regional Super-50 tournament, also means the vast majority of the top players are rendered ineligible since most of them are abroad in T20 leagues while the regional competition is being played. New West Indies director of cricket Jimmy Adams has already argued that this rule is ridiculous and works against the best interest of the regional team, noting other countries do not debar their players in similar circumstances.

Back to the field of play, no fan would begrudge Law’s current plight, since they would be fully aware that the Windies’ situation is self-inflicted. Of note here too, though, is Law’s assessment of his current talent pool following the latest series loss.

“The first glimpse of what I’ve got to work with and there are some very encouraging signs. I thought we bowled particularly well throughout the series. Today probably wasn’t our best, but the first two were good.

“With the batting, we had guys getting starts but no one going on to get big scores. That’s the area we need to improve. I’m not pleased with the result but very, very happy to see some guys who have actually got something to give out there and want to be there to do it,” Law told journalists.

This may have been Law being politically correct, having only just entered the system as coach. It is thus left to be seen how long the Aussie coach will tolerate what clearly is the backward thinking of the WICB executive regarding making the best players possible available for selection. We wish him and Adams well in trying to convince their employers to change their attitude. Still, we hope Cameron and his hierarchy will wake up before it is too late.