Men­tal­ity – the real prob­lem for WI play­ers

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

The fol­low­ing is the com­plete ver­sion of this col­umn, which was orig­i­nally pub­lished on November 22, 2016. I HAVE long opined that one of, it not the most fun­da­men­tal, causes 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 unit played 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.

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, scor­ing a mere eight Test cen­turies with an av­er­ages of 40.00.

Bravo plays in a team that is ranked eight out of ten 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’ con­tract. Bravo feels he has earned the sta­tus to pub­licly re­fer to the board pres­i­dent, who dared not to grant him that ‘A’ con­tract, as a ‘BIG ID­IOT”.

Bravo is the typ­i­cal mod­ern West Indies player, bereft of stan­dards and shame, and with an ex­ag­ger­ated sense of their rel­e­vance and im­por­tance in the wider scheme of things – in­stead of hav­ing the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the per­sonal pride to drive him­self to put in the nec­es­sary work, to make him­self a bet­ter and more com­plete player in pur­suance of true great­ness as a bats­man.

With eight Test cen­turies and av­er­ag­ing 40.00, Bravo thinks he is the King of West Indies cricket and has be­haved ac­cord­ingly.

This again typ­i­fies the think­ing of the mod­ern player, and that’s why when this lot get ham­mered, hu­mil­i­ated and hum­bled in a Test se­ries, it mat­ters very little to them. When they are a part of the worst-ever West Indies team that con­tin­ues to scrape the bot­tom of the bar­rel in world cricket, they never lose a sin­gle night’s sleep. They are happy be­ing the ‘big fish” in the small pond.

This high­lights the sharp and de­ci­sive con­trast be­tween this cur­rent crop of play­ers and the likes of Clive Lloyd, Vi­vian Richards, Mal­colm Mar­shall, Andy Roberts, Michael Hold­ing and that en­tire era of great war­riors, who were never sat­is­fied with be­ing that prover­bial ‘big fish’ in that small pond. Those greats wanted to own the EN­TIRE OCEAN, and they did – while the shame­less brats and mer­ce­nar­ies of to­day, typ­i­fied by the ac­tions of Dar­ren Bravo, con­tinue to wal­low in their own medi­ocrity and, ul­ti­mately, drown­ing them­selves and West Indies cricket in the shal­low wa­ters of the ‘small pond’.



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