Get rid of the regional side and let the individual countries play as nations. Why do we want to hold onto a side that represents a group of nations? We don’t have that for football, where Jamaica and Trinidad have shown themselves good enough to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. We don’t have it for athletics, and whether individual islands or the whole region cheers for world records by Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, he can be taken as a West Indian without having to represent a team with any such name. We don’t see it in swimming, or tennis, or netball, and we could go on. Indeed, by having separate Caribbean nations represented in tournaments like the Olympic, Commwealth, or CARIFTA Games, Davis Cup, or whatever, we get away from one of the problems of choosing a regional side. The best of each country can get to participate and then there is less of a problem of finding that you have say only 3 slots to fill when you may have 6 world class performers spread over several nations.
Are we afraid that our individual countries could not be good enough? Some (like Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica) may make the grade easily, and some may not, and in that process, they could find that it’s better to put resources into other sports or activities. In fact, the notion of a West Indies side seems more bizarre when you see that the Caribbean islands and countries already participate in their individual rights in tournaments in the region. Let them continue to flourish and develop their national identities.
If we look at possible comparisons, it’s hard to find any that go the West Indies route. In cricket, the United Kingdom happily field country sides, and we had England and Scotland in the recent CWC tournament. In many other sports, we see that individual countries now perform very well, after they had to live through the break-up of some political group. So, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, or one of the other former Soviet Union countries, now each make their best efforts in international sport. The former Yugoslavia has seen its new separate parts such as Croatia, and Serbia & Montenegro perform with the best on the world stage. On some very contrived occasions we may see “Team Europe” or “South America”, but most observers know that this is just for a one-off purpose.
I struggle to make sense of having the West Indies team, other than for sentimental reasons. Having individual countries play would not stop pooling of resources for development or other purposes, if that is what countries wanted. Maybe we need one of the academics or students the CLR James Centre for Cricket Studies at the University of the West Indies to give us some coherent arguments for why a West Indies team should be preferable for cricket.