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Analysis

Who's fooling who?

The concern today is with the increasingly one-eyed view of the world that pretends to be unbiased and authoritative, says Fazeer Mohammed

Fazeer Mohammed
Fazeer Mohammed
31-Mar-2008

What is the immediate future of a West Indies team that continues to languish in the backwaters of the international game? © AFP
 
"You think anybody from this side woulda get near the Bajan team 20 years ago?"
At last! An expression of concern that goes beyond the parochial triumphalism of beating up an inept Barbadian line-up at Guaracara Park. At least this fan, walking to his car after Saturday's play, was prepared to put aside all the flag-waving histrionics to step back and appreciate what a proud and once mighty cricketing territory has come to, and more importantly, what it means for the immediate future of a West Indies team that continues to languish in the backwaters of the international game.
Just for the sake of accuracy, I had a look at the Barbadian XI that surrendered first innings points in a drawn match with T&T at the Queen's Park Oval in 1988 (the same match in which a certain Brian Lara, at age 18, scored 92 in his second first-class match against an attack comprising Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Vibert Greene, Winston Reid and Hendy Springer). Actually, Jeremy Alleyne, who bagged a pair courtesy of Ian Bishop and Tony Gray and averaged 3.80 in a first-class career that spanned just five innings - all in that season - would probably have struggled to hold a place in the team being led now by Corey Collymore.
Maybe opener Arnold Gilkes (ave. 31.14) and middle-order batsman Adrian Grant (ave. 35.61) would not be superstars today, even in the midst of such contemporary mediocrity, but you figure they would be able to fare much better than some of those who capitulated so meekly in the first innings on the second afternoon of this four-day fixture. The fact that it is going to last four days has more to do with Daren Ganga's decision not to enforce the follow-on, but that's another story.
No, the concern today is with the increasingly one-eyed view of the world that pretends to be unbiased and authoritative, yet is just as brazenly insincere and disingenuous as any of the other baseless uttering of the past week.
When wrapped in the red, white and black, it seems the only sensible thing is to replace Sulieman Benn with Amit Jaggernauth, Devon Smith with Ganga, Marlon Samuels with Lendl Simmons and Daren Powell with Rayad Emrit for the second Test against Sri Lanka. Oh, and just so that those arrogant Bajans, hooliganish Jamaicans, devious Guyanese and small-minded small-islanders don't think of us as insular, we're all for the idea of Sewnarine Chattergoon opening the batting and Chris Gayle taking Ryan Hinds' spot at No. 6 now that he doesn't want to face Chaminda Vaas with the new ball anytime soon.
What's wrong with six Trinis (including Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin) in the XI? Aren't we the new superpowers of regional cricket, never mind that Jamaica are the regional first-class and one-day champions and new holders of the Under-15 title? We trounced them in the final of Mr Stanford's big-money event, didn't we? So, that settles that argument once and for all.
 
 
The concern today is with the increasingly one-eyed view of the world that pretends to be unbiased and authoritative, yet is just as brazenly insincere and disingenuous as any of the other baseless uttering of the past week
 
If you're wondering how any of the above could ever appear credible in the cold light of day and with the benefit of rational, impartial analysis, take your time and digest the following morsels:
"I thought it was another good day for the West Indies. It's true, we created a few chances and didn't quite hold on to them, but this is a flat wicket and we pulled through."
That's Gayle after day two of the first Test in Guyana with the home team at 29 for one in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 476 for eight declared, including four dropped catches. And just in case we were in any doubt that all of these comments are talk for talk's sake, the captain trots out the usual tripe at the post-match presentation about taking the positives from the game, although he stumbled to identify any when asked to name some of those positives.
"Our supporters, and even our critics, acknowledge that the team's performance in South Africa demonstrated that a turn-around has indeed started...I am a believer. If you have the same belief in yourselves as I have in you, we will beat every other team in the world."
Winston Churchill would have been proud of Julian Hunte's rallying cry to the troops on the eve of the first Test at Providence. So if the West Indies Cricket Board president sees the shock first-Test win in Port Elizabeth and the subsequent eight consecutive losses (two Tests, one Twenty20 and five ODIs) as evidence of the start of the turn-around, then the 121-run defeat to the Sri Lankans last week would no doubt have further solidified that already unshakeable conviction.
"The planned tour match between West Indies A and Sri Lanka scheduled for March 29-31 at Shaw Park, Tobago has been cancelled because of flight problems. The West Indies Cricket Board apologises for any inconveniences caused. Sri Lanka will use the opportunity to do net practice at Shaw Park."
That was the full extent of the WICB's press release last Thursday, yet I understand that no names of West Indies A team members were ever passed on to an airline that was holding seats to facilitate the squad's return travel from Piarco to Tobago for the match. So were there no flights, or no team?
If this is what sincerity, transparency and openness is all about among the leadership of West Indies cricket, then there is absolutely no doubt that we really gone through.

Fazeer Mohammed is a writer and broadcaster in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad