Mentality – the real problem for WI players
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’.