by Caribupdate Weekly
When it comes to cricket in the Caribbean and our combined representative team, the West Indies, hope lives eternally in the hearts and minds of many in the region. This is both good and bad. Hope and optimism are worthy qualities to embrace. But, they must be balanced with a hefty dose of reality.
No matter how much shellacking West Indies takes year in and year out, season after season — just as the team did recently against South Africa at the World Cup in Australia — the eternal optimists in our midst would shrug their shoulders and argue philosophically that “we rebuilding’’; that the “right players’’ were not selected; and that the problem lies with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) which, incidentally, is meeting this weekend to decide on whether to reelected Jamaican Dave Cameron as president; or, choose former Windies and Barbados fast bowler Joel Garner to replace him.
Except for the odd victory here and there, the fact is that for the better part of more than two decades, the “big’’ cricketing nations of the world have been consistently beating up on the West Indies — sometimes, too easily.
Last week at the World Cup, for example, the Caribbean team was outplayed in every department by South Africa. They suffered a heavy 257-run defeat.
The reality is that is that while the West Indies pioneered a winning formula with its battery of fast bowlers and hard-hitters, under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd, it never was able to catch up when there was exponential shift in the approach to the game by the major team players. No longer were the cutting edge teams the ones with the fastest bowlers and the biggest sluggers only. There was greater application of the science of the game and the utilization of new and emerging technology for pre-game preparation and post-game review.
We also believe that the limited overs’ version of the game has hurt the West Indies more than most, especially in our batting. The longer format of the game — Test matches of up to five days — forced batsmen into the discipline of trying to occupy the crease for the longest possible time; and into attempting to hone and improve proper stroke playing.
No doubt, one day cricket is exciting; but, a fellar needs not know how to bat properly — in the traditional sense of the word — nor does he have to spend an entire day at the wicket — to knock up 100 or more. He could just “voop’’ his way to a century by spraying ugly long shots all over and across the ground.
It’s our humble opinion that unless the West Indies brings a more scientific and mental approach to the game; and unless our team gets back to the basics of batting and bowling, the regional team will be going nowhere fast. We’ll continue to experience intermittent moment of joys with victories mostly against lowly ranked Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
As well, no matter who is elected as WICB president this weekend in Jamaica, it perhaps will have little effect on the on-field performance of the Windies. As we say in Grenada, “you can’t make bread out of stone’’. If our players do not have talent, discipline and mental fortitude to compete against the best in world, ain’t nothing Cameron or Garner could do ’bout that.
And, dropping one group of so-so talented players for another set won’t help either. The overall skills and talent set — mental and physical — must be at an optimum level to compete and win consistently. The combination of the two is what has made Viv Richards, Garfield Sobers, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Kirani James great sportsmen and women.
UWI Open Campus
While the regional institution of cricket struggles, another standard bearer — the University of the West Indies (UWI) — delivered some wonderful news to Grenada recently.
UWI has presented a proposal to cabinet on plans for the construction of the university’s Open Campus at Hope, St Andrew.
The project will include building a conference centre, performing arts auditorium and amphitheatre, to contribute to developing the human resource needs of Grenada; and also in making our country an education hub for the OECS.
Caribupdate Weekly applauds the project which was negotiated by the former NDC administration of Tillman Thomas, and which has found the backing and support of the government now led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell.
However, just like with the West Indies cricket team, we urge a reality check and reminder. When the UWI Open Campus is completed, it would be just the beginning. There will be the ongoing work to market the facility to make sure its use is maximized; and collateral support would be required, including the construction and maintenance of roads to and from the campus.
Let’s not allow the UWI Open Campus to go the way of so many important projects, including gifts like hospitals and schools, which are provided to Grenada and other Third World countries by foreign donors; only to see, within a relative short span, the gifts fall into disrepair or disuse for lack of proper maintenance.