A fig­ment of Cameron’s imag­i­na­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

WHICH IS the best cricket team in the world? Is it Pak­istan, In­dia, Aus­tralia, Eng­land, or South Africa, as the ICC rank­ings would sug­gest, or is it one of New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Bangladesh, or Zim­babwe?

To me, the num­ber-one team should be Aus­tralia. They have been the best for a num­ber of years, and although one must be good in any con­di­tion any­where, and not only at home, and even though they lost re­cently to Sri Lanka on Sri Lanka’s turn­ing pitches, they must be the best.

Frankly, I do not see Pak­istan as the num­ber-one team, as the rank­ing shows, and def­i­nitely not over Aus­tralia, In­dia, or Eng­land.

The team that I can­not see at num­ber one or oc­cu­py­ing that West Indies bats­man Ros­ton Chase.

po­si­tion in the near fu­ture, how­ever, is the West Indies.

Un­like Dave Cameron, the un­der-pres­sure pres­i­dent of the West Indies Cricket Board, I am not blink­ered. I sim­ply can­not see the West Indies in the pic­ture, or any­where near to it, not now any­way.

I am not the pres­i­dent of the board, I am not a mem­ber of the board, and I am not the pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer for the board. I need not put a “spin” on things to make things look good or to suit any­one.

Cameron said re­cently at a meet­ing in Do­minica: “We need to ask our­selves as the board, and as our pub­lic, what is it that the pub­lic wants from the West Indies Cricket Board?”

“The West Indies Cricket Board has just de­liv­ered three ti­tles. There is no other cricket board in the world that has three ti­tles to its name,” con­tin­ued WICB pres­i­dent Dave Cameron

Cameron as he went on to men­tion im­proved fi­nances, the Pro­fes­sional Cricket League, and the re­cent per­for­mance of one like all-rounder Ros­ton Chase against In­dia.

He added: “We need to ask the pub­lic and our stake­hold­ers to de­fine for us what suc­cess looks like, and I think that once we agree what suc­cess looks like, I think it is easy to an­swer that ques­tion.”

I wish I was there. I would have asked him this ques­tion: What is the busi­ness of the West Indies Cricket Board?

WEST INDIES RANK­ING

If he were to an­swer “cricket”, I would ask him, for a start: When last have the West Indies beaten a top-rank­ing team whether at home or abroad? When last have the West Indies been ranked above num­ber eight in the world in Test cricket and in one day cricket? When last did some­one per­form as good as Chase? When last have we got to the semi-fi­nal of the World Cup? When last have the West Indies play­ers en­joyed a place of some de­gree of sat­is­fac­tion in the rank­ings – Test and Oneday?

The peo­ple, by at­ten­dance, may pre­fer T20 cricket, its many tow­er­ing sixes, and its staged en­ter­tain­ment of flash­ing lights, mu­sic, and dancers, but I don’t be­lieve that they pay much at­ten­tion to its fig­ures, ex­cept who is the big­gest hit­ter in T20 cricket.

T20 play­ers, ex­cept for the bats­men, are ba­si­cally name­less. The peo­ple do not know, or they do care not to know, who is the best bowler, or fielder, or catcher. But for a very few, the other play­ers sim­ply make up the num­bers.

Although fi­nances are im­por­tant, and very im­por­tant at that, cricket is not a fi­nan­cial busi­ness. Cricket is cricket, and those in charge of cricket must be, or should be, fo­cused on the busi­ness of cricket.

In other words, if the West Indies are play­ing cricket, as im­por­tant as money is, it’s no use boast­ing of a lit­tle money in the bank while the team is com­ing last or there­abouts on the cricket field, and is also the beat­ing stick, or the laugh­ing stock, of ev­ery one, cer­tainly of Aus­tralia, In­dia, Eng­land, South Africa, Pak­istan, and New Zealand.

And although the West Indies were the best and the most pop­u­lar team in the world once upon a time, they are no longer so, nei­ther do they pos­sess the best bats­man, bowler, wick­et­keeper or cap­tain as they did many times in the past.

Based on the crowds, the money in the bank did not come from play­ing cricket, or from play­ing cricket well. It must have been the West Indies’ share from a pool of funds from the ICC and, there­fore, noth­ing re­ally to shout about.

What Cameron needs to do is to ask the pub­lic, what, in cricket, is suc­cess.

The peo­ple would an­swer him this way: Suc­cess in cricket is not so much about money but more about per­for­mance on the field; good per­for­mance, in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively.

The peo­ple, from all around the world may also tell him that West Indies cricket can­not be a suc­cess when it has been oc­cu­py­ing the num­ber-eight spot or there­abouts out of 10 teams in any­thing but T20 cricket for as long as 20 years or so.

That would be the peo­ple’s an­swer, and as long as cricket re­mains the way it is, as long as Test cricket con­tin­ues to be the way in which all cricket, and crick­eters, are judged, that’s the way it will al­ways be seen.

GREAT IN T20

The West Indies are fan­tas­tic, and they are su­perb in the flashy T20 form of the game, which many now see as the West In­dian way of play­ing the game.

In the one-day for­mat, how­ever, they are em­bar­rass­ing, and based on their per­for­mances, they are hardly any bet­ter in the so­phis­ti­cated play of Test matches, the for­mat which was once con­sid­ered made for the West Indies.

But it may even be worse if the board con­tin­ues to hire and to fire peo­ple like Phil Sim­mons and to change its cricket staff so of­ten for dif­fer­ences of opin­ion, while clinging to one like Richard Py­bus, its ob­vi­ously “pow­er­ful” di­rec­tor of cricket.

And although it may turn out to be a good move in the end, like the se­lec­tion of Fidel Ed­wards some years ago, the “blind” se­lec­tion, in this day and age of so much first-class cricket, of a man based on his per­for­mance in the nets, is like grab­bing at straws.

Tony Becca

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