strike you. The first is that, with the exception of Brian Lara, it is
difficult to imagine anyone even remembering the names of the players of the
past decade, let alone naming things after them.
that one of the most amazing things about the decline of West Indian cricket
is the heights it reached in the first place.
“In terms of
size and population, most of the islands are little more than big towns with
flags and anthems.
spectators sit in three stands bearing the names of legends: Hall and
Griffiths; Worrell, Weekes and Walcott; Greenidge and Haynes. What makes the
event more poignant is that this great past is so recent in years and yet so
distant in talent. Most of those players they are nostalgic for are still
“Now, as the
West Indies host the World Cup—a tournament they were the first to win, in
1975—they rank eighth of the 11 one-day nations, ahead only of Bangladesh,
Zimbabwe and Kenya.
popular theories explaining this dismal state of affairs include reckless
youth, incompetent management, greedy players, inter-island rivalry, cable
television and economic decline. But one consensual strand underpins them
all. It's not just about cricket.”
commentator Gary Younge in the March 23-29 issue of the (UK) Guardian
Weekly: You know what Brian? We are sorry too. Just like you, we realised
too late, that possessing a disproportionate amount of talent for the
tiniest cricketing nation in the world is no longer enough. Our cricketing
legends did their job. They understood that it wasn’t about the cricket.
colonialism, “the crease,” Younge writes, “was the one place where blacks
and whites could interact with some semblance of equality. Aspiration for
social change was being contested on the playing fields of the Caribbean.”
writes, referring to the 70s: “Test matches between the West Indies and
England were not about sport. They were about resistance against racism.
accepting that we were ‘inferior.’”
The era of
globalisation took us down. Younge blames it on the American influence,
basketball, the attraction to “quick and fast” games. But we know better.
What took us
down is what keeps us down, not just in cricket, but in manufacturing
(under-trained workers mopped up by make-work programmes); in health (our
spending is among the lowest in the region); in education (more than 40 per
cent of our people are functionally illiterate) and in the use of our oil
wealth (favouring buildings over savings and infrastructure).
just about the cricket. Cricket is the window to our national psyche.
road map that tells us where we are. Even those who don’t understand the
nuance of the game must bow to its power. It binds five million people.
It allows us
an emotional regional base from which we can build a regional identity. As
the fire of globalisation and capitalism grazed the revolutionary spirit
from Lithuania to Laventille, to the ground, making it all about the money,
cricket became a professional sport, unfortunately for us, now, a sport for
first world nations.
It can’t be
any coincidence that it took us six or seven years before we began to
decline because it took that long for Australians and New Zealanders cricket
academies to ripen; their long-term grooming of players and training began
to kick in.
“Just as with bananas and sugar, the question is: Will cricket adapt or
The West Indies battled colonialism and
racism but are tripped up by globalisation because we’ve allowed our party
gene, with no-one giving a hundred per cent, being asked or being expected
to give the best in any field, to win.