West Indies Cricket began as far back as in the 1890s. It has evolved over the years and is now one of the premier sports in the Caribbean.
Between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s, the West Indies team was regarded as one of the strongest in the world both in Test and One Day International cricket.
They have won the ICC Cricket World Cup twice, in 1975 and 1979, the ICC World Twenty20 once, in 2012, the ICC Champions Trophy once, in 2004, and were runners up in the Cricket World Cup in 1983.
Moreover, the West Indies cricket has produced some of the best cricketers in the world. These include among others Sir Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara, Sir Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Sir Frank Worrell, Courtney Walsh, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, and Sir Viv Richards.
However, today, West Indies cricket has been plagued with moments of madness which perhaps have set back cricket in the region a decade or more.
The latest being an outburst by coach Phil Simmons who on the cusp of a team tour to Sri Lanka, challenged the selection process by charging outside interference.
“I don’t think that it [selection] was done as professionally as it should be done, [there was] too much interference from outside and in this case, I even go as far as saying maybe influence because of the reasons that were given for them being out,” Simmons reportedly told the press.
Now, at a time when Simmons should be taking full control and nurturing the team of young players to greatness, he is home on suspension for his intemperate utterances.
In the meantime, however, Simmons in his mea culpa moment has stated, “I can only describe it as a schoolboy error in a moment of madness. This was not within my character. I need to apologize as I am genuinely sorry.”
Now, one can only hope with Simmons’ apology and remorse he will be reunited with team soon.
However, given the damage already done, it is difficult to see him winning the confidence and trust of all the technocrats and even some players.
Another recent moment of madness for the West Indies is the abandonment of its tour to India last year, thus reneging on its obligation.
The decision follows an ongoing feud between the West Indies’ players and West Indies Players Association (WIPA) over payment disputes.
The tour walk out has cost the West Indies US$42 million in damages and all bilateral relations with India.
The truth is the cricketing public is yet to be told by WICB how they plan to meet this claim.
There are also other periods of madness for the Caribbean team stemming from payment dispute between the Board and players.
In 2005, there was a contract dispute between the West Indian Players Association (WIPA) and the Cricket Board over ownership rights and payments, forcing the West Indies to announce a team to South Africa without star batsman Brian Lara and other leading players.
The money dispute continued; consequently, West Indies was forced to send a second string team to Sri Lanka dubbed then by many a scab team.
Again in 2009, another dispute erupted over money and WICB chose a second-string side to take part in a series against Bangladesh and the Champions Trophy.
One also cannot forget what may be described as the mother of all moments of madness when in 1982–83 a West Indian rebel team decided to tour apartheid South Africa against the advice and wishes of the governments across the region.
There are also many additional moments within West Indies cricket that one could easily describe as schoolboy errors and moments of madness, but perhaps it may be more apt at this point to ask, will West Indies be great again?
Now, the cynics may reply that that question is one’s moment of madness.
Nigel Bell, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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