The Board’s Secret War

Romain Pitt Reveals The WICB’s real agenda

West Indies batsman Kraigg Brathwaite plays a shot during the fourth day of the Third Test against India in Mumbai on November 25. —Photos: AP

During the recent Indian tour of England, Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri, two former Indian cricketers, gratuitously denigrated the West Indian prospects for the upcoming tour of India. The silence of the WICB suggests either that they were unaware of the criticisms or—and my instincts tell me that this is more likely—that they did not feel the need to respond to the curt verbal dismissals of the regional team by the two high-profile commentators.
After the First Test of the current series against India, for reasons known only themselves, the West Indies Selectors sent Lendl Simmons back to Trinidad and chose two children (both of whom seem to have great futures ahead of them) to open the batting.  Denesh Ramdin was holding Carlton Baugh’s hands while Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell were selected for the ‘A’ team against Bangladesh.
For the first time in years, we have four or five quality fast bowlers.  History shows unambiguously that our fast bowlers have had most success against India, both at home and in the sub-continent.  Nevertheless, only two of the available ones were selected for that match.  The children did their best, which, not expectedly, was not good enough.  When on the final day Fidel Edwards removed Rahul Dravid early to leave the Indians with seven wickets, four of them specialist bowlers, only Ravi Rampaul, who is normally better in his early spells, was left to put some heat on the Indians.  So we went down to defeat by five wickets.  Management having announced that we do not need to win until 2015, everyone seemed content.  Maybe even Kemar Roach, arguably the best fast bowling prospect in the world at this moment, may have been persuaded that his time has not yet arrived.
In the West Indies vs Sri Lanka Digicel home series 2008 issue, Garth Wattley quotes Michael Holding as follows:
“We have a reasonably good eleven who, in my opinion, can compete with every team around the world and can beat some of them.  But once we start picking up injuries we struggle, because there’s no bench strength.  … When a Sarwan or a Chanderpaul gets injured, the player replacing them is nowhere near the standard you’d like to see.”
The WICB has succeeded in extracting the donmanship represented by Chris Gayle from its midst.  Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor, two high-class cricketers, have been eliminated by a combination of what appears to be injury and studied disregard.  Sulieman Benn is obviously persona non grata, DJ Bravo, a truly magical all-rounder, has been the victim of sophisticated psychological warfare, the requirement that he compete for a position against the captain while being offered sops like the vice-captaincy and the ‘A’ Team captaincy.
Having Marlon Samuels bat at no. 6 (no. 7 when there is a nightwatchman) sends him a clear, unambiguous signal that he is not a key member of the team. It also inevitably reduces his opportunities for scoring big runs.
All or most of the above-mentioned players are WIPA adherents and none has the formal education provided by the Combined Colleges or the High Performance Institute.
The philosophy underlying the Board’s conduct seems to be that the West Indies cannot win with uneducated boys; they are not mentally equipped to play the modern game and to appreciate the importance of winning for their country. The evidence observable match after match is that the greatest need is for a full-time sports psychologist to assist in preparation for international encounters.
This warfare is being conducted during a period in which fans and journalists, beaten down by the long string of defeats, have essentially given up on the team and are therefore not paying close attention to all the elements.

No doubt the WICB strategists are working on the plan adumbrated after the World Cup that would bring “educated” cricketers to the forefront by 2015, leaving all the unschooled fellows to fend for themselves.
I spent several years pursuing higher education and I fully appreciate its value.  I would encourage all young people to do their utmost to get an education. However, I recognize that it is the duty of the State to provide the platform and the ladder on which young people must climb.
All that having been said, it is important to remember that, without trade unions, child labour would still be widely used and that calculus and great literature, as important as they are, do not contribute to the handling of the doosra and googly.
There is a much better and simpler alternative paradigm available to the WICB.  This is the first time in the 21st Century that we have the opportunity to combine the best of the eleven that Wattley referred to earlier in this piece with the emerging young talent like Adrian Barath, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Roach, Devendra Bishoo, Shane Shillingford, Darren Sammy and Russell.  On the strength of that combination, aided by a sports psychologist and with coaches for every area of the game, we can be an immediate force in international cricket. West Indies must strike while the iron is hot. We should not let the WICB get away with its Machiavellian strategy.

Leave a Reply