It’s sad that in time the West Indies could just be seen as a massive outlier in cricket records or the times we live in. They were held in the same high esteem as Brazil when it comes to soccer. My earliest memory of this team was Malcolm Marshall steaming in 92 world cup & Richie Richardson was their main stay running the show as captain. But the scenario today has turned on its head; Inclination towards NBA is huge as kids were being lured by the Ritz and Glam. shoddy people management by board, financial dependency in the form that money isn’t shared equally which eventually needs to filter down to grass roots cricket. Players wage is another aspect which needs deliberation.
There is not enough money left within WI cricket except for those few who play IPL & County; while board selling players rights & images while paying them nothing. Stanford was the man to look forward to if only he wasn’t crook; his investment in the WI cricket would have started showing by now. His investment would have developed fan base or would have lured youth towards this game; which now sadly is more inclined towards more glamorous NBA.
From early 90s onwards one could make out the decline in WI cricket community and the way their cricket was being played; soon Windies were the “team to beat” from being the “team to beat” during its glory days. The decline was steep hence arresting that decline felt almost out of hand & the board was more interested in the perks of the system rather than the responsibilities. Board’s current feud with the players is not helping the matters either and the worst being the confrontation with Chris Gayle; and none but the cricket is again at losing end. Currently this team has just couple of pillars in the form Shivnarian Chandrapaul & returning Marlon Samuels as far as batting is concerned. As a result of this feud Top 5 batsmen for this India touring line up have just single digit Test experience to show on their cards.
Players like Bravo, Sarwan, Taylor, Gayle are facing the axe as they did not fall in line with board’s dictate hence paying the price. Gayle being very happy with RCB has already made B’lore his second home while Dwayne Bravo has no business playing for WI A team in Bangladesh in itself is humiliation no holds bar. All these facts sum up to the intention of WI board whose heart is not at protecting the cricketing culture these island nations inherits from its glorious past.
The Champions league gave good insight of the talent available at hand from T&T (Trinidad & Tobago) alone; Kieron Pollard being the by-product of this tournament not so long ago. This year’s Champions league showed the confidence inspired by T&T in spite loosing opening 2 matches closely only to make a match out of last 2 and giving well established IPL teams run for their money. With these exploits I won’t be surprised if there is a feeling around island nations to go solo in international cricket as they do it in other sports; which if happens shall be the final nail in coffin for West Indies cricket.
Prior to India series; West indies had good taste of what conditions would really like be in Sub continental region. Darren Bravo got his first test century against Bangladesh hence inflicting some confidence within the depleted batting line up. Then there is always reliable Shivnarine Chanderpaul who was once asked to retire by the same board; who now thinks Chanders is the mainstay at batting for this team.
These batters along with pace bowlers will have to lift their game when they stop by India; where India is licking their wounds after the relinquishing their Test crown to England. India would have an ideal opportunity to get back into some kind of rhythm before they set their sail down under.
If Windies cricket has to survive; it’s time for past players to come on to the centre stage and manage the game in background as they once use to do on the field. Even the supporters would agree with the passion they bring both on and off the field. Passion is infectious and if the players can get along with that passion; this shall lead them on path towards reclaiming the lost glory; more importantly the cricketing world shall welcome the competition from Caribbean which is so important for the game if its creators wants it to make a global sport out of it.