The Great West Indian Teams of the 1970s and 1980s is a part of cricketing folklore and is something that older fans and former players wax poetically about daily, about the good old days of West Indies Cricket and wonder if we will ever get back to those glory days in our cricket.
The great teams of the 1970s and 80s were passionate about playing for the West Indies, which translated to the excellent performances on the field. The current team is a far cry from the units of the 70s and 80s in terms of talent, and critically, commitment to the cause, playing for the West Indies is no longer the ultimate dream of a Cricketer in the Caribbean, we will explore why this is the case.
One of the main reasons why representing the West Indies is not at the top of the list for young cricketers is financial. There are several T-20 Leagues available across the cricketing world from the Indian Premier League(IPL) to the Big Bash League (BBL). Players earn more in these leagues in six weeks than what they make for an entire year playing for the West Indies. For example, a grade A West Indies contracted player earns approximately USD150,000 a year, $5000 match fee per Test Match, $2500 for a One Day Match and approximately $2000 for a T-20 match. If the player is not contracted, they earn only the match fee for games played. In comparison, elite T-20 players such as Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, and Sunil Narine is set to earn over USD one million for participating in the 2018 IPL championship.
This massive divide in earning potential is a major factor why several West Indian cricketers choose T-20 Leagues over playing International cricket for the West Indies, and no rational person can blame them for doing that! These cricketers have families to care for, and the lifespan of an international cricketer is limited, they, therefore, must maximize their earnings while they can. Cricketers for the first time in the history of West Indies cricket can become millionaires playing the game, thanks to T-20 cricket!
Another reason why players are not too keen to play for the West Indies is the attitude of the governing body Cricket West Indies (CWI). The current administration has displayed arrogance and carried out a selection policy that punishes cricketers who play in T-20 Leagues rather than facilitate them. For example, players are required to play in regional competitions to qualify for playing for the West Indies team, which in my opinion is a deliberate ploy used to leave professional T-20 players out of the West Indies Team.
This selection policy has resulted in the West Indies fielding an under-strength team in Test and One-Day matches consistently over the last five years and is a major reason for the dismal performance of the team in these formats over said period. The President of Cricket West Indies, Dave Cameron has also publicly disparaged players on more than one occasions, leading to a deficit of trust among players. Players feel that they need to earn what they can outside of regional cricket since if they are not on the good side of the CWI President, they might play little to no cricket for the West Indies – Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, and Darren Sammy can attest to this!
Finally, West Indians are still passionate about cricket and playing for the region. However, the modern cricketer is also aware of the high earning potential that the game now offers and want to tap into this as much as they can. The onus is therefore on cricket administrators in the West Indies to be more conciliatory in their approach and meet the players halfway to avoid a total collapse of the game in the region! If this is not done, the best West Indian players will be playing T-20 Leagues all over the world, while fringe players will be representing the West Indies Team. Is this what we want as fans of cricket in the Caribbean?
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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