Many tough questions have already been asked about the preparedness of the West Indies team for the current CWC, but now that the team cannot qualify for the semi-finals, we begin to see the kind of news that many suspected was behind part of the failure. The West Indies Cricket Board president Ken Gordon states that it has no money for money for development; while it is breaking even it has a US$15 million debt!
So, how will the WICB go forward to develop players and coaches? Already, we are seeing promises that “in another few months we might be able to make some progress but we have to keep working…”, but credibility has already been stretched by what we have seen during the CWC.
Current team coordinator, Clive Lloyd (pictured at a recent practice), has pointed out that the West Indies team has talent, but lag behind many countries in technology, training, and tactics. Talent is not enough: it never has been! A game that people in the region have believed we can excel at merely by showing off our talent, has developed in many ways that need to mastered with a more structured and coordinated approach. The modern game requires different skills and approaches. Part of the immense challenge for the WICB may be to get a coordinated or unified approach, given that we are a mix of countries, though West Indies cricket has been a good example of how their can be unity.
Like the English found out decades ago with football and cricket, the games they invented were developed and taken to different levels, and to be good on the international stage, teams need to take on board the best that exists. Many barriers have to be crossed, and there is no guarantee that using only local and national talent for coaching and managing will be enough. We may not like “foreigners” teaching or guiding us, but we need to accept that they have learnt from us too in the past. We should seek out the best for the management jobs, as Jamaica and Trinidad have done in improving their national football teams.
The redevelopment has to start at a deep level, and that must be with the young players and how they are brought up to the top level as they mature. It will require a good look at practices that have gone without much critical comment as if they are part of “our game”–drinking, partying, indiscipline of various kinds including that of the captain. Some things just do not go together: the England team suffered during this CWC because of the off-field antics of its vice captain, Andrew Flintoff, and some other team members. The image of the team was certainly damaged and arguably its playing performances were hurt for some of the games. Reports of the Windies team being seen at night clubs late at night before a game are bad for the teams image, and if the incidents are indeed true then the players need to understand that when they play poorly most of the public can do the 1+1 and see why the players can’t perform well.
Let’s urge the politicians, administrators, and players to come clean and to do so quickly. The sport that has been treasured in the hearts of many West Indians for so long and has been a flag ship for the region’s progress needs good leadership and direction. We need honesty and full commitment. No empty promises, please!