CWI forced to scrape the bar­rel

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

CRICKET WEST Indies, as the most re­cent name change has it, has been ac­cused of many moves thought to be de­struc­tive to the game model the fans once knew and en­joyed. One thing that it should not have in its debit col­umn: is lack of sup­port for the short­est for­mat – the Twenty20 (T20) big-money hus­tle. It can never be de­nied that its in­flux has brought great for­tune to the sport, both in the cor­po­rate struc­ture and play­ers. There are some one day and T20 bul­lies who would not get close to what is called “real cricket” in those by­gone years. Yet, they sur­vive. How­ever, the ques­tion needs to be asked, what is the cost that is be­ing paid when the longer ver­sion is strug­gling for sup­port?

BEST FOOT FOR­WARD

As this col­umn is be­ing writ­ten, the is­land ter­ri­to­ries are putting their best avail­able foot for­ward, con­test­ing the re­gional 4-day­ers through­out the Caribbean. The teams might be shorn of tal­ent, but they are where they are as­signed. The Windies se­nior team, straight from a see­saw test bat­tle in Eng­land, is flex­ing some mus­cle in Zim­babwe, and the A team is en­gaged with its coun­ter­parts from Sri Lanka, with the fi­nal of three minitests fight­ing the bad weather un­der lights in Kingston. All this, while some of the cream of the re­gion’s bat­ting tal­ent have been se­lected to slog it out in the Bangladesh League.

It gets worse as it is more than likely that as soon as they “find their feet,” Cap­tain Holder’s bright­est lights will be set­ting sail to more lu­cra­tive ex­ploits, and who can blame them? The world gov­ern­ing body, The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC), and its mem­bers, should find a way to struc­ture the var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions so that all con­cerned are af­forded their fair share. With our play­ers scat­tered on those named ex­pe­di­tions across the world, the en­su­ing frag­men­ta­tion, weak­ens the in­di­vid­ual teams that are put out to bat­tle. Sel­dom, if ever, are play­ers de­nied the req­ui­site per­mis­sion to travel. It is left to the player to de­cide which dan­gling car­rot is cho­sen. With the re­mu­ner­a­tion for shorter ver­sions at the height that it is, there can be no doubt as to the choice.

This has led to a sit­u­a­tion where the play­ers are run­ning the show, go­ing off to the more lu­cra­tive sit­u­a­tions, leav­ing the se­lec­tors to choose from what is left. This has to be ad­dressed. The ICC needs to lay down some rules that give cer­tain pe­ri­ods when the dif­fer­ent for­mats must be played. Time must be al­lowed for rest to avoid player burnout.

FATE OF THE CROWD FAVOURITES

In the broader spec­trum of West Indies cricket, the crowd­pulling play­ers are ei­ther get­ting en­trenched in the shorter game or trend­ing to­wards it. From where, then, will come the re­birth of the al­lure that once was the test game? It is fre­quently said, and with sound rea­son­ing, that the game of cricket needs the Windies in all for­mats. For this to be sus­tained, as a brighter fu­ture for the West Indies is sought, let the ICC take a look at the sea­sonal and cli­matic as­pects of the dif­fer­ent coun­tries and con­fine com­pe­ti­tion ac­cord­ingly. To dis­con­tinue the loss of the best or near best, this is the ad­vised route. Great play­ers are not easy to come by. When they threaten, they should be given full reign to ex­plore their best tal­ents.

Restrict­ing them to one for­mat, even though self­in­d­uced, can­not be the way.

West Indies bats­man Shai Hope driv­ing through the off­side dur­ing the first day of the first Test match against Zim­babwe at Queen’s Sports Club, Bu­l­awayo, yes­ter­day.

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