Mr. Prime Minister — The Crisis In West Indies Cricket Is Over Twenty Years!

If you were to look up the word crisis on google, it would tell you that it is a time of intense difficulty and danger. Another definition states that a crisis is a time that requires an individual to make a difficult or important decision.

The definition of the word crisis is essential for us to consider as we assess recent statements by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Honorable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

On Tuesday, December 14, Prime Minister Gonsalves joined the Mason& Guest show in Barbados to give his assessment on the state of West Indies cricket.

He stated, “On the basis of the recent performances in the T20 World Cup, the abysmally poor outcome we have had in Sri Lanka and the very mediocre performance here in the Caribbean in recent times, I think it would be fair to say that the cricket is now in a state of crisis.”

With all respect, Honorable Prime Minister, West Indies has been in a state of crisis not because of recent performances but for the past 20 years.

This article explains why the crisis spans two decades, who is to receive the blame, and what role leaders in the Caribbean can play to address this crisis.

Why it is a 20-year Crisis

West Indies has been in a crisis because cricket in the region has faced difficulty and danger for the past two decades. The stats show that West Indies cricket has declined tremendously from the start of the new millennium.

The West Indies never lost a test series for fifteen years between 1980 and 1995. However, in the 74 test series between 2000 to date, the West Indies have 18 wins, 9 draws, and 47 losses.

Those stats indicate a steep decline in performance and thus the definition of a crisis. The West Indies have moved from expecting to win every series to expecting to lose every game.

The standards have fallen so low that fans would appreciate if the game or series is competitive and not even if the team wins.

The team won two T-20 World Cup and an ICC Champions Trophy in that period but as thrilling as those wins were, they just masked the problems and gave fans false hope that went crashing down after another heavy defeat.

Who is to receive the blame?

Prime Minister Gonsalves indicated who he believes should be blamed for the crisis by his comments on the program. He stated, “What we are having here is a full-blown crisis, not a crisis of governance so much, but a crisis in the performance which is connected to governance. I see a crisis as a condition in which the principals are innocent of the extent of the condition and have no credible bundle of ideas as to the way forward.”

He concluded by stating, “I don’t think we ought to fool ourselves and I’m not so sure from what I’ve been hearing that the persons who are in charge at different levels fully grasp what is here upon us.” It is clear by these comments he blames the leadership at cricket West Indies. I do agree with him on some level; the successive boards and Presidents have lacked the necessary vision to take cricket out of the dark hole it is facing.

However, West Indies cricket faces a prolonged crisis because all stakeholders have failed to propel regional cricket to the level it needs to be. The players have failed to maximize their effort and improve each day rather than make the same mistakes repeatedly.

The cooperate sponsors have caused the crisis because cricket in the region lacks sponsorship at the senior, local, and school levels. The fans have failed to support the team, and their support depends on whether the team is winning.

The media has accepted mediocrity by failing to shine a light consistently on the issues involved and those at the leadership level. West Indies cricket requires surgery, and just like a team of doctors works in unison to perform a procedure on a patient, all stakeholders need to play their role in stopping this crisis.

What role does government need to play?

It is easy to point fingers, but the regional governments must take a long look at themselves. The Prime Minister can point the finger at the leadership at the board level, but macro issues are affecting the game.

Caricom needs to address this crisis by allotting more money towards the investment in the cricket infrastructures. It will mean more equipment for schools and clubs in the local community. They could also institute more cricket academies which are centers to learn the sport but assist young people with their academia.

Government can sponsor more youth tournaments or possibly leverage the private sector by incentivizing tax breaks or other perks.

One of the challenges facing the Caribbean is that young people leave high schools without any success in their studies or plans for the future.

These individuals later turn to crime or are incapable of providing for their families. The government needs to ensure that potential talent is seen and maximized. The governments in the region seemingly prioritize track and field as well as football ahead of cricket in a distant third place.

Can cricket be elevated on the same level, and its history in the West Indies taught in schools? Yes, there is much blame to go around, but rather than point at others, the best approach is to see what we can all do to fix this long-standing crisis.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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