A few days ago, the West Indies board released the squad for the ODIs to be played in South Africa starting January 16. There had been rumours flying around as to its composition and the possibility of a new captain.
Well, those rumours are no longer rumours. A press release has confirmed that Dwayne Bravo is no longer captain of the team, and not just for this tour.
The chairman of selectors has pointed out that the new captain, Jason Holder, is younger, and that they see him as the person to take this team forward. But it doesn't end there. Bravo has not just been relieved of the captaincy. He, along with Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard, isn't even in the squad to play the five games. Now while arguments can be put forward for the reasons to seek a younger captain, however flimsy those might be, what can you say about leaving the three gentlemen mentioned above out of the squad?
Obviously questions have been asked of the selectors. One volunteered the information that the three were left out because they wanted to have a look at younger cricketers leading up to the World Cup. Now if they were sensible enough to have done some homework, they would have realised what a ridiculous argument that was. Narsingh Deonarine, who has been selected in the squad, is older than the three who have been left out.
Another argument put forward is that they looked at the stats, and the cricketers left out weren't measuring up. Again, folks, do your homework. Bravo was just selected for the ICC ODI Team of the Year for 2014; that is the team selected from among all the ODI cricketers in the world. Bravo can make that team, but his "stats" aren't good enough to make the West Indies side? That being the case, I think the ICC should just hand the World Cup trophy to West Indies instead of playing the tournament, as they have one hell of a team.
Once again, players are being victimised and punished, and I have yet to hear about any repercussions for those who created the problem in the first place
I read an article based on an interview with the lawyer for the three gentlemen. He speaks of victimisation, and I'm afraid I have to agree with him. But am I surprised? I am afraid not. He went on to mention that the WICB cherry-picked details from the task force report to victimise the three cricketers. That is fairly obvious. Once again, the WICB has commissioned a report into the workings of the board, like the Patterson and Wilkins report, and used what it felt like using to suit its own agendas.
Yes, the report did apportion some blame to the players, in particular the seniors, but that came at the very end, just before the recommendations. In its opening salvo, the task force blamed the WICB and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) for creating the problem.
I draw your attention to the opening paragraph: "We are of the view that the overriding excuse for the players withdrawing their labour was the attempted imposition of new contractual terms of employment on the players negotiated between the board and WIPA, which the players saw for the first time after they got to India.
"There is something fundamentally wrong in sending a team to faraway places with only a historical view of their terms of employment and then to radically change those terms after they arrive in that distant place."
If that doesn't clearly state that WIPA and the WICB created the problem then I am missing something. But once again, players are being victimised and punished, and I have yet to hear about any repercussions for those who created the problem in the first place. It is so unfortunate that the WICB, in choosing to use only that small part of the report that suits it, is again doing West Indies cricket a disservice. One of the recommendations made by the task force, which the board put together without any input from the players, was, "The WICB must now build pillars of trust and respect with the players who are the board's employees. In this process, WIPA and the senior players have a very real role to play."
Folks, that was recommendation No. 1. Is this how the WICB intends to build trust and respect? I think its actions clearly suggest that it doesn't even intend to try. When this fiasco started in India, I wrote that the WICB had learnt nothing over the years. I pointed out that players who were happy to take up the mantle of representing the region when previous players went on strike were now ready to emulate the earlier cricketers and strike themselves.
Now the WICB is looking to replace the "troublemakers" - one of whom, Darren Sammy, was seen as a "board man" not long ago - with new players. But you can bet your bottom dollar that these new players will soon become disenchanted and start rumblings against the board in the not-too-distant future. A much more knowledgeable man than myself defined madness as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. I leave you readers to determine what you think then defines the people running the WICB. That has been the board's behaviour for years now. It's time to change the culture of the board, and it's obvious that change won't come from within.
Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding is now a leading commentator