Let the cricket begin

Across The Board
Stabroek News
March 12, 2000

Some may have thought the "Ides of March" came early as the first few days of this month and the last few in February which were filled with contention for the West Indies Cricket Board.

The Board has already made its responses to the various issues. We have taken responsibility and sought to make amends where we have faltered, such as in the communication of the management appointments to all applicants.

However, everything that goes wrong in cricket or does not meet with the satisfaction of a section of the public is not due to an error on the part of the WICB. In recent days the decisions by former West Indies captain, Brian Lara, to relinquish the team's leadership and then to take a break from cricket has caused a wave of debate throughout the region. All this comes as the West Indies prepare to face Zimbabwe and Pakistan in the Cable and Wireless Test and One-Day International series.

Understandably, Lara's announcement not to play has been met with dismay. Nevertheless, the WICB recognises any player's right to decline selection and accepts Lara's decision. The Board wishes him well and looks forward to his being able to use this break from the pressures of professional cricket "to rebuild all facets" of his game.

Despite the stellar Trinidadian batsman's absence, we are urging all cricket lovers to rally behind those picked to represent us in the mighty duel of bat versus ball. This will be a time for the Windies to regroup following the humiliation of a 2-0 Test and 5-0 One-Day International defeat in New Zealand over the dawn of the new millennium.

As true patriots of West Indies cricket, we must throw the full weight of our support behind new captain, Jimmy Adams, and his men. There may be some new faces, who have come to the fore during the recently concluded Busta Cup, and they especially will need a boost as they make their Windies debuts.

As the baton passes to Adams, the WICB pledges as much support as possible to him and his squad. Adams has earned the respect of his teammates over the years and has shown himself to be a real team player with a strong commitment to West Indies cricket. His leadership was also evident just recently when he led the Jamaican team to its first Busta Cup win. He has had some preparation for the captaincy at West Indies level, having been vice captain for last year's home series versus Australia, the World Cup 1999 and the tour to New Zealand. He was also captain of the "A" team between 1997-1998.

We are aware Adams will face the same challenges that have existed for some time regarding our brittle batting and to a lesser extent our bowling. Therefore, we should not expect miracles but just a complete effort by all involved. We anticipate that with the new management structure, players will have effective leadership during the coming weeks. The Training Camp has been a wonderful opportunity for the team to develop a strong working relationship with the new management.

As we welcome Zimbabwe, and later Pakistan, it is once again imperative to stress that we should not lapse into complacency. While the recent Wisden ratings have these teams pegged at ninth and fourth in the world respectively, the Windies should not feel that they will roll over without a fight.

Though both have had see-saw fortunes lately, they have players who can turn matches and are capable of matching any Windies effort. Certainly, we look forward to seeing personalities such as the Zimbabwe captain, Andy Flower, and his brother, Grant; and the exciting Rawalpindi Express - Shoaib Akhtar - alongside Pakistan's veteran bowler, Wasim Akram. Most of all, we anticipate our boys being equal to the task and putting their best foot forward.

All that's left to say now is "Let the cricket begin."