Patterson Committee's report ignores pressing issue March 30, 2008

Flight problems not helping West Indies cricket

The inadequacy of air transport has added to the woes of the current state of the game in the West Indies


The Sri Lankans were forced to abandon their tour match in Tobago simply because they couldn't get there on time © Digicel
 

As if it didn't have enough problems of its own, West Indies cricket has encountered yet another, one that did not even feature in the Patterson Committee's report to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) on the future of the game.

Perhaps it should have for it has been serious enough over the past couple of weeks to have held up the arrival of players prior to the first Test in Guyana, forced the cancellation of a scheduled match on the current Sri Lankan tour - a drastic, unprecedented and embarrassing measure - delayed the start of a Carib Beer Series match, prevented an umpire from fulfilling his assignment and denied the Barbados team practice prior to their crucial current contest against Trinidad and Tobago.

That its cause is the inadequacy of air transport comes as no surprise to those who travel the Caribbean on a regular basis. Tourism and business officials were simultaneously bemoaning the very same shortcomings at a symposium in Barbados during the Guyana Test.

On every count, it is an issue to which Caricom governments need to pay urgent attention. Given the established evidence, it was the major worry prior to last year's World Cup. "Luggage In Another Terminal" was seen not simply as a clever title attached to the major regional airline.

The expectation was that players, officials and gear would end up in the wrong venues for matches, if at all. But, while a lot else went wrong with the tournament, far from a nightmare, organisers lost no sleep over the logistics and LIAT and the other airlines misplaced neither bags or passengers. Yet, in less than a year, it has come to this. Without elaborating, the WICB claimed "flight problems" led to it to cancel Sri Lanka's three-day match against a Select XI at Shaw Park, Tobago.

 
 
Delayed luggage meant the Windward Islands had no gear to start their match against Guyana on Friday, Barbados none to practice in the lead-up to their fixture at Guaracara Park, and Roger Laroque of Dominica none to umpire

It was as much a disappointment to the West Indies coach John Dyson as it was to the Sri Lankans. Dyson told me in Georgetown that it would be a chance of competition against international opposition for promising young players, and some on the verge of the Test team. With only two of the remaining Carib Beer Series matches of relevance, he hoped that players such as Keiron Powell, Darren Sammy, Runako Morton, Brenton Parchment and Nikita Miller could be chosen.

As it was, the match was originally scheduled for the University of West Indies (UWI) ground at St Augustine but then shifted to Tobago when the regional blind tournament was given preference at the UWI.

The Barbados Cricket Assocation (BCA) vice-president and WICB director Conde Riley blamed Caribbean Airlines for the mix-up that left Ryan Hinds at Grantley Adams International Airport when he should have been on his way to Georgetown for the Test, although he did not explain why no BCA/WICB official was at the airport to deal with such matters as used to be the case.

Delayed luggage meant the Windward Islands had no gear to start their match against Guyana on Friday, Barbados none to practice in the lead-up to their fixture at Guaracara Park, and Roger Laroque of Dominica none to umpire. All this in the 21st century.

Considering the sub-standard grounds where so many Carib matches have been allocated this season while costly new World Cup stadiums lay idle, the absence of basic facilities and the lack of professionalism in every aspect, it is easy to understand the desperate state of the game so repeatedly lamented by those close to West Indies cricket, the latest being the former Test wicketkeeper, now West Indies board director Deryck Murray during the week.