DEVELOPING anything in life is never an easy task because there are varying opinions about the direction that it should take to produce the best results for all concerned.
This is often the dilemma facing the West Indies Cricket Board like most organizations whenever they have to pursue development. Our challenges are exacerbated when we consider that our board comprises directors coming from different countries with different experiences.
So when the WICB takes a decision that it thinks is in the best interest of the sport in the region, there will always be debate on whether the right approach to the development objective is being taken.
In this year's Red Stripe Bowl West Indies limited-overs competition for instance, the WICB chose to expand the competition by allowing St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Antigua & Barbuda to play as a single entity outside of the Rest of the Windward Islands and the Rest of the Leeward Islands respectively.
The WICB also chose to bring in a side from the University of the West Indies in an attempt to help make the competition bigger and more competitive.
Canada, a side from the International Cricket Council's Americas region, whose development has been entrusted to us, was also a part of the competition to give the players more experience playing against stronger competition.
By doing this, the WICB hoped to afford our cricketers more opportunities to measure their preparedness for the rigours of international limited-overs matches because our West Indies team has not been as competitive in recent times as we all in the regional would like them to be.
The WICB has mulled over the idea of this expansion long and hard, and did not arrive at this decision easily. Since our limited-overs competition is one of the shortest among ICC full members, we had to find ways to prepare our West Indies side in the best possible and most cost-effective way we could find.
We have to admit that some of the matches in the Red Stripe Bowl have been lopsided, but there have been one or two surprise results like UWI prevailing over St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Canada toppling Antigua & Barbuda and giving Guyana a rub. These are useful developments.
This expansion of our competitions, also evidenced by the inclusion of an A-Team from other ICC full members in the Busta West Indies first-class series, is a crucial part of our plan to develop our cricket and our cricketers.
Development takes time however, and it is clear that expanding our competitions is evolving. Our getting it right will take time. It is going to be a tough trying to close the gap between the expansion sides and the four traditional sides that remain in the competition, namely Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
We can only continue to try to find the right framework that will help them to create the right mix in the competition. This is why the development programmes in the respective territories will also have to meet the required target of producing better quality players, so that there can be sustainable growth in the standard of the game.
We have to take our cricket to a new level of competitiveness and we have to become more professional in our approach to every aspect of our cricket if we are to bridge the chasm that exists between our players and others around the world. While everyone may not always agree with the methods, we can all agree with this.