What West Indies cricket needs

An open door - Part Two

Vaneisa Baksh

May 8, 2007

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If it is one thing West Indians have given generously, it is their thoughts on how the cricket they love should be run © Andrew Miller
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Perhaps the major reason there has not yet been a substantive coup in the management of West Indies cricket lies within the realm of recognition by the international governing body, the International Cricket Council [ICC].

It is certainly not because no alternatives have been proposed. If it is one thing West Indians have given generously, it is their thoughts on how the cricket they love should be run. Taken one by one, the ideas offer partial solutions, as they often deal with one aspect at a time. However, a careful study of the collection (such as the one generated by the 2000 Caricom/UWI cricket conference) yields a comprehensive range of proposals for the development of the game.

What we need is the commitment and will to refine the existing body of thought into a practical plan. But as long as people feel that the ownership of West Indies cricket cannot be wrested away from the current proprietors, they will see such action tantamount to a spinning top in mud.

There is a hopeless sense that international recognition will not be granted to any new structure because the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) already has it. Maybe we should think about the nature of that recognition and its basis.

The ICC recognises the body that represents the national cricketers of its members. The West Indies has a different circumstance in terms of the definition of nation, given its multinational nature.

It might be mentally liberating to examine the status quo and explore some possibilities.

Legally, as far as we know, the WICB administers the regional game. As far as we know, the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) formally represents a substantial number of regional cricketers at various levels, and the WICB formally recognises WIPA as their representative.

What we need is the commitment and will to refine the existing body of thought into a practical plan

It is a little less clear when it comes to contractual relationships. As far as we know, a few players on the senior team have retainer contracts with the WICB. The majority are contracted on a series by series basis. At least, technically that is how it stands, right? We can't really be sure because memory relates a different reality of players touring without contracts.

For now, let's just imagine a scenario. Let's say that the CEO of the WICB announces that players on retainer have no choice but to go on the England tour, and that if the others don't sign the proffered contract, the WICB will just keep running down the list until it gets a squad of 15.

So what happens if nobody signs? A squad of what, eight, ten retained players goes? Unlikely, but imagine what would happen if the players, like everyone else in the region, decide that it is time to act. What if they are made aware of plans for an alternative system and find it attractive? What if they all decide not to sign any new contracts; what if nobody renews? What if WIPA endorses another structure and advises players that they would benefit from affiliating themselves with a new order that is committed to rebuilding West Indies cricket and treating its players as the centre of that resurrection? What if it takes less than a year for existing contracts to end? What if in that period there is massive investment in developing a modern, intelligent, entity to manage West Indies cricket?

Who would the WICB then be representing? Would it be able to legitimately keep its seat on the ICC? Would the ICC then recognise another West Indian body?

It might mean a period of upheaval that could even see the West Indies having to temporarily withdraw from ICC-sanctioned cricket as things get sorted out.

But what if at the end we get it right and West Indies cricket begins its genuine rebuilding, would it be worth it?

Sometimes a door needs the push of imagination to swing it open.

Vaneisa Baksh is a freelance journalist based in Trinidad

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Vaneisa Baksh Vaneisa Baksh has been studying West Indies cricket's history for ages, and has been writing on the game for even longer. She has been admitted as a member of the Queen's Park Cricket Club in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, which recently opened its doors to females. She hasn't become one of the boys yet, though.
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