It’s Time to Really Put West Indies Cricket First


jason-holder

I’ve always admired the pride and unwavering commitment exhibited by the average Australian cricketer when they step out on to the field to represent their country. In the individualistic world in which we live, it’s really refreshing for me to see players who’re the product of a cricketing culture that inculcates a team and country above self ethos into their sporting ambassadors. This type of pride, commitment, and team-first ethos is something that’s sadly lacking in the makeup of far too many modern-day West Indies cricketers.

WI need to show more pride

Standards are allowed to freefall into the realm of nauseating mediocrity where pride, of the good variety, fails to show its face. Alas, this has seemingly been the case in West Indies cricket over the last couple decades. With pride, of the bad variety, which borders on hubris, many of these players have waltzed their way from historically embarrassing defeat to historically embarrassing defeat without pride, of the good variety, igniting a burning desire to improve their respective games for the good of the team. Where’s your sense of (good) pride when you swagger around “giving laugh for peas soup” after tumbling to a record World Cup defeat? Hmmm…probably the same place it was after our once proud cricketing legacy was tarnished in like manner at Sabina Park more than a decade ago. Definitely not a good look.

WI need to demonstrate greater commitment

Commitment, which is the talisman that can help even the least gifted among us to transcend our talent station, is seemingly an alien concept in the modern age of West Indies cricket. Every reasonable West Indies cricket fan accepts that not everyone is going to be born with the God-given talents of a Brian Lara or Carl Hooper. However, whether in the presence or absence of such gifts, we all expect to see our cricketers demonstrate an unshakeable commitment to extracting all they can from whatever talents they’ve been given. We also want to see that fight! Quite a few uncomplimentary things have been said about Shivnarine Chanderpaul over the years. We all have our shortcomings. No one, however, has ever been able to question his legendary commitment to realizing his full potential, or to the cause of West Indies cricket. I’ve always admired Shiv for that.

WI need to engender a team-first ethos

Selfishness has been a scourge on West Indies cricket for quite some time now. Many of our players are so self-centred and self-absorbed that they appear to be as blind as a bat to the needs of the team as game situations change. Here’s a scenario that plays out with alarming regularity in West Indian cricketing circles these days. Player (Just pick a name) is approaching a century during “happy hour” of an ODI. However, instead of going hard at the bowling, he potters and pokes around until the personal landmark has been achieved. Then, and only then, does he decide to throw the kitchen sink, dishes, and cutlery at the bowling. Such self-interested displays can no longer be tolerated if we’re to become consistently competitive again. Team goals must come first at all times.

The future of West Indies cricket

There’s too much wrong with West Indies cricket to fix everything in one go. Administrative incompetence, poor coaching, substandard facilities, and a smorgasbord of other issues all need to be addressed systematically and comprehensively. However, I believe that we must start by fixing the mindsets and mentalities of our cricketers. The mere mention of the phrase “West Indies cricket” should engender a sense of immense pride in anyone who dons that maroon. As far as cricketing pursuits go, representing the West Indies has to place higher on every player’s priority list than the Indian Premier League (IPL) or any other domestic league around the world – no matter how cash-rich. As a diehard fan, I long for the day when only players who demonstrate the requisite pride, commitment, and team-first mindset needed to truly move West Indies cricket forward take to the field to represent my team.

It’s been proven time and time again that “partial fixes” never actually fix anything. This is why chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd and his colleagues should have bitten the bullet and gone the whole hog with their overhaul of the West Indies team for the ongoing World Cup. Excluding certain veteran players who’ve been short of “exceptional performances” while including others who’re sailing in the same boat does give the impression that some axe-grinding took place somewhere along the line. If we’re going to clean house, we need to clean up completely. If not, don’t allow the specter of victimization to even poke its hideous head above ground.

Whether or not the time was right to appoint Jason Holder ODI captain is a subject that can be debated until the cows come home. What’s clear, however, is that he has the ability and acumen to blossom into the type of leader that West Indies cricket needs. I was particularly impressed with how much mental fortitude he demonstrated in rebounding from a frightful pasting at the hands of AB de Villiers to top score during our shambolic reply against South Africa. The likes of Holder and Kraigg Brathwaite should be the foundation stones upon which we rebuild West Indies cricket. Other players who exhibit the same level of pride and commitment should also be brought into the fold.

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