The Caribbean conundrum

The ICC should try and talk to the WICB and see if there lies a possibility of making the various islands play as separate nations as they do in other sports. It will suit the ICC and also the different boards in the Caribbean islands as the former is looking at more teams and the latter will get rid of the hassle of having to appease the representative of every island in every manner possible.

The last couple of weeks were a mixed bag in international cricket as the Tests played in different venues and time zones raised various issues. While the Ashes proved to be a positive endorsement for Test cricket despite the sparks that flew about some umpiring decisions, the series between Bangladesh and West Indies raised more questions and one gets the impression that it will be a long while yet before the administrators find the solutions. A series win would have deli ghted the Bangladesh side, but it was ridiculous to see the West Indies field a side that was very ordinary to say the least. Obviously, the WICB was trying to prove a point to the players by taking a firm stand, but there is no point in diluting the standard of international cricket whatever the reasons may be. The unity that existed among the various cricket boards in the Caribbean islands has eroded as much as the quality of cricket has since the late 90s. Whether the slump in the quality of cricket has resulted in the disruption of harmony is debatable, but the administrators have failed miserably on several counts and therefore it has to be said that the game is suffering largely due to their incompetence.

Brian Lara was always critical of the way cricket was run during his playing days and one of the main issues that he wanted the WICB to address was the quality of pitches. The WICB failed to take cognisance of it and dismissed his views much to its own peril. There were instances of Test matches getting abandoned due to poor pitch and ground conditions and it appears that the WICB was not really affected too much by the negative impact it created around the world. The “Prince of Trinidad” was seen as a disruptive force by the administrators, but the fact remains that the critical facets of the game were ignored by the administrators.

The administrators might have derived immense satisfaction in not giving in to the demands of the players, but they have to realise that the entire episode was a product of their own indifference. This is not the first occasion that money has been a bone of contention between the players and the administrators, but the attitude of the administrators leaves a lot to be desired.

The decisions of the WICB have not only projected West Indies cricket in poor light, but also have created a different set of problems for the ICC. The WICB’s decision to leave out their main players for the Champions Trophy squad is a case in point.

All the nations have to submit a list of players on a given date and any changes will be allowed only under exceptional circumstances. Now that the WICB and the players have struck a compromise, they would like to field their best side. Whether the ICC will make an exception in the case of the WICB and allow them to change the entire squad remains to be seen. As far as the ICC is concerned it is a devil’s alternative either way and given the past record of the ICC in handling such situations, one can expect it to bungle and create some interesting developments.

The ICC should try and talk to the WICB and see if there lies a possibility of making the various islands play as separate nations as they do in other sports. It will suit the ICC and also the different boards in the Caribbean islands as the former is looking at more teams and the latter will get rid of the hassle of having to appease the representative of every island in every manner possible. This decision is something that the ICC cannot moot by itself, but if the general consensus among the members of the WICB happens to be along those lines, the ICC must encourage it as much as it can. The Trinidad & Tobago chief has already hinted at playing as a separate nation and though everyone would want to see the united West Indies team, the fragmentation of the islands for the betterment of cricket appears to be one of the better solutions in the long run.

If that were to happen, it will also provide a healthy platform for the two-tier system as a few islands will be only good enough to be in the second tier. The reason I say this is because the two-tier system needs to have a decent number of teams in the second tier as well in order to provide good opportunities. The ICC has a lot of pressing issues on hand as of now and none can be as important as the decision it has to take on the West Indies squad. The WICB yet again have landed in a dilemma as they have to field their best players, but in order to do so, they have to put the ICC in a very delicate situation indeed. The next few weeks will really test the administrative and diplomatic skills of the cricket administrators across the world.