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When will WI turn fortunes around?
All of the West Indies and the world celebrated earlier this week when Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced the return of Jamaican star batsman Chris Gayle to the West Indies’ T20 squad for the final match of India’s tour of the Caribbean today.
The sporting websites were abuzz with the news and those sites specialising in cricket revelled in the possibility of seeing Gayle, the highest run-scorer at T20 level, back in his element with the regional side.
But while the cricketing fans and aficionados salivated on the possibility of Gayle’s return to the field, the teams representing the region on the field were having little to no success.
The women, led by Stafanie Taylor, slumped to their fourth consecutive loss in the ICC Women’s world Cup in England and face certain elimination today, while the men’s team under Jason Holder surrendered yet another title on home soil in the One-Day International series to the visiting India 3-1.
The performance of Taylor’s women was particularly disturbing, since by her own admission after the team’s third loss, in which they were skittled out for a mere 48 runs in just over half of their 50 overs, they gave themselves as good a chance as possible by going to England well in advance of the tournament so they could acclimatise to the harsh English conditions.
Of course, the problem with the women’s team is easily identified and will hopefully be corrected now that the coaches and CWI have seen what lack of proper preparation really means in today’s game. And by this, we mean the fact that there is no major 50-over or four-day competitions in which the regional women can develop their skill in the first place. How does CWI expect Taylor’s side to compete with teams who have the advantage of playing with some of the best in the world without this kind of infrastructural support?
One or two tours in between tournaments will not make up for this deficiency either. Needless to say, until CWI gets serious about developing the women’s side of the game there will be no success in the longer format of the game, since it is possible to overcome these in the shorter T20 game as we have seen with both the women and men.
On the other end of the spectrum, the men’s team is an entirely different scenario. They too are suffering on the field, as evident in their recent struggles against minnows Afghanistan. But on their side, mismanagement and egos within the CWI management have served to completely erode any strides which could have been made on the backs of the few successes on the field.
CWI president Dave Cameron’s management style continues to erode all the relationships with the regional stakeholders and the players in particular. Strange enough, he was given yet another fresh mandate by the regional cricketing bodies when he was re-elected a third time this year.
However, it is his well-known feuding with top players which has hurt the fans and the players even more. Players the calibre of Gayle, Kieron Pollard, the Bravo brothers—Dwayne and Darren—and Darren Sammy, to name a few, have all been put in the doghouse at some stage for challenging Cameron on various issues.
Even former coach Phil Simmons suffered a similar fate when he raised the off-field interference in the team selection process. Simmons was sacked in the wake of leading the team to a T20 title in 2016 and has since gone on to other coaching stints where he has brought success to those teams and most recently applied for a vacant position in the India team.
In fact, not even regional governments can get Cameron and his current executives to take a different approach to the management of the game. The morass which the management of CWI is in now has so troubled regional leaders and even our own Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, it drove him earlier this year to say: “Caribbean cricket has been hijacked by a small clique of people who are hell bent on destroying Caribbean cricket and my position [is], unless the question is answered as to who owns that asset, we’re spinning top in mud.”
Yet months later, Cameron and his group of executives remain and Windies cricket in still on the same path–a downward spiral. So how exactly will those people who really want to see the game return to its glory days of yesteryear return get a turnaround?
The answer to that, given the despair expressed by even regional leaders—who many believed should have been able to influence change necessary when they stepped into to resolve the issues—may be as far-fetched now as seeing a current Windies team win a series.
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