The ball is in WICB’s court

The Under-19 World Cup success, indicative of the presence of talented cricketers in the Caribbean, is a foundation the West Indies Cricket Board can build on.

Players of the West Indies team celebrates with the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Dhaka.   -  Getty Images

The ICC U-19 World Cup ended with West Indies clinching it in a convincing manner. The tournament lived up to expectations in that India went the entire distance. Though not winning it must be disappointing to the Indian lads, their campaign was heartening. Looking at the bigger picture, West Indies cricket needed a spark, especially something that would stoke the fire among youngsters. With the colts winning the World Cup, it is up to the West Indies Cricket Board to leverage the success and motivate the younger lot to pursue cricket along with other sports.

Of course, cricket in West Indies can be expensive in terms of travel and accommodation because the cricketers travel from one island to another wherein the prices vary a lot. In as much as the ICC and its affiliates are keen to support the WICB, the administrators on their part have to shed their differences and work towards reviving cricket in the Caribbean islands. One of the biggest challenges has been the fact of the younger generation shying away from cricket to pursue other sports for the simple reason, better money.

If at all the WICB needed something to latch on to, the West Indies colts have provided it. They were perhaps not the most favoured to go the whole distance, let alone win the coveted trophy. That they surprised the cricketing world by winning the trophy is enough indication that talent is available. It is not an easy ride for teams from other parts of the world to do well in the Sub-Continent, as conditions are totally different in every respect. Mind you, the huge difference is not restricted to cricketing conditions alone.

The triumph has come at perhaps the right time for the WICB to harness the available talent and rejuvenate cricket even if it means moving heaven and earth. The excuse of youngsters not interested will not hold water any longer, as it has been proved that talented youngsters exist in the Caribbean islands. But the key factor is to nurture, encourage and engage the talent meaningfully. The pressure will be on the WICB as the attention will be on them and the efforts they take in the future to get cricket back on track. Of course, they may face a situation sometime in the near future when all the lads who played in the U-19 World Cup might lose their interest in the game, but the onus is on the WICB to keep them interested. The constant struggles between the WICB and the players have not helped their cause. Therefore, the WICB has a golden opportunity to not only mould the youngsters along cricketing lines but also in terms of attitude and pride. The big question is, will the WICB seize the initiative? It is a case of now or never for the WICB to do things differently as tackling challenges is a major part of cricket administration.

It has been obvious that revenue sharing has been the biggest bone of contention between the senior players and the WICB, but the members of the triumphant U-19 side will look forward to encouragement and support in other forms from the WICB. All it will take for the WICB is to take the young boys under their wing and guide them to work on their game. In doing so, they will send a strong message to the younger lot as also the senior level players. The WICB needs to gain the confidence of cricketers and any little step that indicates that administrators care will make a huge difference. The WICB has a big opportunity to capitalise on and it remains to be seen how well they seize it.