The play­ers’ men­tal­ity is the prob­lem

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

I HAVE long opined that one of, if not the most, fun­da­men­tal cause for the con­tin­ued im­plo­sion of West In­dies cricket has been the mind­set of the cur­rent crop of play­ers. More so than any sys­temic or pro­ce­dural short­com­ings of the West In­dies Cricket Board (WICB).

Blam­ing the board is sim­plis­tic, cliched and, in­deed, lacks real cred­i­bil­ity on the ba­sis that when West In­dies were the undis­puted king­pins of world cricket, the struc­ture and op­er­a­tions of the WICB were hardly any dif­fer­ent and cer­tainly not su­pe­rior to what they are now.

That pe­riod of dom­i­nant success was not based on any novel ideas or strate­gic plan­ning on the part of the then ad­min­is­tra­tors, the dif­fer­ence be­tween then and now is ob­vi­ously the tal­ent level but, more im­por­tantly, the at­ti­tude, the commitment, the col­lec­tive and per­sonal pro­fes­sion­al­ism of that era of win­ners and cham­pi­ons, and what are now be­ing foisted on to the peo­ple of the re­gion as mod­ern stars.

I con­cede that back then, key play­ers in that West In­dies unit­played county cricket in Eng­land, which no doubt helped to make them more com­plete and pro­fes­sional play­ers. But, in­struc­tively, those greats were sought af­ter by the county clubs be­cause of the in­her­ent qual­i­ties they pos­sessed com­pared to the medi­ocre qual­ity of the play­ers of to­day.

Com­pound­ing and per­haps ex­pe­dit­ing this wider de­cline espe­cially in Test cricket is, of course, the rapid emer­gence of the Twenty20 game, which has brought about a par­a­digm shift in the fo­cus of the play­ers away from Test cricket and to­wards the eas­ier and more lu­cra­tive short­est for­mat. For one rea­son or an­other, the mod­ern play­ers have, over time left, West In­dies cricket ‘out to dry’ and there is pre­cious lit­tle the board could have done and can do about it.

RE­CENT SAGA

The re­cent saga in­volv­ing Dar­ren Bravo is a clear in­dex of this let-down. Af­ter six years of Test cricket, Bravo has played 49 Test matches, scored a mere eight Test cen­turies with an av­er­ages of 40.00. Bravo plays in a team that is ranked eight out of 10 Test-play­ing na­tions – only above Bangladesh and Zim­babwe. Yet in his mind, he is a big enough star to have earned the RIGHT to an ‘A’ con­mers of the ‘small pond’.

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