An immeasurable loss to West Indian cricket Ian on Sunday
Stabroek News
January 6, 2002

What was the worst thing that happened to West Indian cricket in 2001? It was not the horrible shellacking we experienced at the hands of Sri Lanka in the Test series. It was not the fiasco, never fully explained, which led to cricket lovers being deprived of broadcasts from the Sri Lankan tour. It was not the unprecedented series of injuries, illnesses, misdemeanours and mishaps which deprived us of the services of a great proportion of our best players.

The worst thing that happened to West Indian cricket by far was the untimely death of the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly. That this death has been allowed to happen, that the necessary sponsorship has lapsed, that the West Indies Cricket Board has not offered to fill the funding breach until a new sponsor is found, that this essential journal is simply falling into oblivion without a great outcry from all cricket journalists, historians, spectators, followers and lovers of the game, officials and Board members, past and present Test players and all players and every Caribbean politician of note, that this deadly insult and injury to West Indian cricket has quietly taken place is a disgrace and scandal which makes one froth at the mouth with rage, frustration and despair.

Do the powers that be in cricket realise what such a death means? Have those who claim to love and revere the game and claim also to appreciate the importance of cricket in the psyche of West Indians as we try to come together and not fly apart in a world where our togetherness becomes more and more vital with every brutal day that passes - have they considered even for one minute what is being lost when the running written record of what is happening in West Indian cricket at all levels is lost? Do they have any real conception of history, tradition, the power of the written word in any endeavour, have they any pride in preserving what our heroes do? Are our masters of cricket mere bureaucrats administering a business, do they have any sense of the heart and soul of the game? Are they as shallow in this as in so much else?

For eleven years the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly has come out, edited by Tony Cozier and published by the Nation Publishing Company and Cozier Publishing in Barbados. It has been the one indispensable West Indian source of West Indian cricket news, views, statistics and history. It has covered the game at every level from Test to club. It has described every tour. It has been the treasured vehicle of countless brilliant articles by the best West Indian commentators and writers on the sport. It has profiled any number of our best players. It has been the Wisden of our cricket.

The CCQ has made a heroic, and largely successful, effort to capture the essence of West Indian cricket. Its death will leave a huge hole in recording cricket in the West Indies and will fracture our sense of the game's underlying and vital continuity through triumph and adversity. The establishment of a great

tradition, the development of shared long-term purpose, the building of pride and self-confidence depend a great deal on the well-organised preservation of records describing events, both good and bad, achievements and failures, trends and challenges - in other words these absolutely essential things depend on writing down regularly the detailed story of the long procession of an endeavour which we share not only with each other but with the generations. To the extent that we do not undertake such preservation of the historical record to that extent is the endeavour belittled and its importance set aside. In the loss of the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly West Indian cricket suffers an immeasurable loss.

Will not the death of the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly leave us as the only cricketing nation without a magazine of record? All the top cricketing countries have such magazines, in some cases more than one. Are we no longer to hold our place in this respect also? Is our illiteracy of the imagination to sink us to yet lower depths?

This disgraceful development may be symptomatic of our larger West Indian habit of neglect and disdain for treasuring, collecting, organising and administering archives as whole. In the business of maintaining and organising national archives we are far, far down any Price Waterhouse archival ladder there may be. When last did a President or Prime Minister take time to lecture one of his cabinet meetings on the vital importance of well-kept archives which represent, after all, the historical soul, the continuity of the creative spirit, of any nation?

The closure of the CCQ is simply another symptom of our complete lack of concern for preserving the record of what we have achieved and how we have endured.

Will nobody come forward to match by one tenth the devotion put into this effort by Tony Cozier and a few others for more than a decade? Will there be just a few cries of impotent outrage like this column's and nothing else? Will no business or businesses come forward to offer sponsorship? Will the West Indies Cricket Board simply issue an unctuous statement regretting the closure most sincerely and leave it at that? Will not CARICOM governments intervene and subsidise?

Will no cricket-loving multimillionaire ride to the rescue and earn for himself our West Indian gratitude and a little corner of immortality? Is this to be the end of the matter?

The answer, I fear, to all these desperate questions is that there simply is not the will or the recognition of how deeply vital this matter is for West Indian cricket or the largeness of spirit to allow any action to be taken. The poet W.B. Yeats, in discussing the role of the National Theatre in his beloved Ireland wrote of binding his nation together through the "imaginative possession" of a national theatre. For us cricket is that "imaginative possession. "But it is a possession on which, clearly enough, we place little value. That is why the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly has died.