Many would have hoped that the Cricket World Cup would have provided a wonderful platform to showcase what the region can do. Yet, we have seen a tournament that had so many missteps that it is hard to believe that the region’s image has not been tarnished. Whatever legacy benefits may be expected, at the current time, these would seem to be distant promises. The world will not really be able to distinguish whether the conduct of the tournament was due to the role of local organizing committees, or to the role of the International Cricket Council. The world is not so interest in cricket to dig deep to know the real reasons. It will simply see the Caribbean as “not being able”.
Many thought that the final straw was the Final itself, with the farcical ending in the dark. But we see that for an “encore”, we now see the botched enquiry into the death of Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s coach. The death in Jamaica was dramatic enough, coming immediately after an unexpected loss by Pakistan to underdog’s Ireland. Too quickly, it now seems, International Cricket Council Chief Executive Malcolm Speed addressed a news conference with Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mark Shields, to announce that Bob Woolmer was murdered in his hotel room (see link). Now, we hear that the official verdict is that Mr. Woolmer died of natural causes–as the Jamaica Gleaner said “a botched probe” (see link).
On the field, the West Indies cricket team performed poorly during the tournament. (We also heard that they showed indiscipline off the field too–in the clubs and elsewhere ahead of games.) Its captain resigned from international cricket and after a long wait, we got a new captain, in Sarwan. The went to England hoping to at least salvage some pride. Sarwan gets injured and had to return home. Bad luck, but the team seemed to rally. It’s performance in the last match showed that the players had guts and played with pride chasing what would have been a record in a 2nd innings recovery. But what is going on with the administration? We read a few days ago that the selectors were upset that their choice of captain for the one-day internationals, Chris Gayle, was overturned by the West Indies Cricket Board, in favour of Daren Ganga. Now, we read today that this decision has been reversed (see link)! Do we know what we are doing? The world can barely believe that we know what we are doing.
Cricket is very important to the region’s image of itself, and yet we see everything to do with cricket being like a poisoned dart. Many have called for the total overhaul of the sport, and rebuild, even if that process takes 10 years. It does not appear that those responsible are ready to take that step. Instead, we see more bumbling.
We know that the political leaders are not the same as the bodies that are responsible for cricket, but because so many choose to be associated with the sport, can they distance themselves from the failings of cricket? So often, it is said that cricket reflects the image of the Caribbean people. If this is true, then what will we expect the world to think of us?
Cricket has become a thorny patch in an interesting period in the region, when politicians may find that they get tarred with the brush of the failures seen in the region. Some elections have already seen incumbent governments pushed out. Cricket may create another sticky wicket that will need to be played on carefully in coming months.