The frailties of West Indies cricket
Guyana Chronicle
May 10, 2003

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WEST Indies cricket made continual strides since its first victory in England in 1950. This memorable victory at Lords was the beginning of the march towards being champions of world cricket and dominance by one nation for the longest period recorded for any sport.

Present during the period of success was one characteristic, a nucleus of players on whom the team could depend. Going back to the 1930s, preparation for later supremacy was in the hands of Messrs Learie Constantine, George Headley, Clifford Roach, Ivan Barrow, E.A. Martindale and Herman Griffith.

These were followed by Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, the late Sir Frank Worrell and Messrs Alan Rae, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. Next came Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, Messrs Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Seymour Nurse, Lance Gibbs, Wesley Hall and Charles Griffith.

There will always be debate as to the major contributor to West lndies success. What is certain is that the presence of Sir Vivian Richards, Messrs Clive Lloyd, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge along with Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall provided the core of the all conquering side from the 80s to 1994 with Messrs Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh added.

Since 1995, West Indies have been badly beaten by almost all comers and last Monday we witnessed Australia’s third defeat of West Indies at what was once sacred ground - Kensington Oval. What has gone wrong?

As Professor Brian Stoddart said in his recent lecture: “A nation’s cricket is shaped by its history and culture” but he goes on “cricket’s on-going social attraction is determined by whether or not it is in tune with contemporary culture”. And that “a decay in the game may well stem from deep seated social shifts”.

We think however that it is worth noting that in recent years and for the first time since the George Headley era, West Indies have been forced to rely on one star - Brian Charles Lara. It is true that we think we see on the horizon two or three batsmen of immense promise as well as a fast bowler but we must be patient.

The just concluded Test match has focused not only ours but the visitors’ attention on the decline in pitches. The pitches provided for the first and second Test matches were not considered to be of the best quality. But that at Kensington was severely criticised not only by the Aussies but also by commentators and past players. The inferior quality of the pitches must impact negatively on the production of world-class batsmen.

Given the importance of healthy finances to support the game, it is vital that standards of excellence are mandatory and that customers are offered an attractive product so that they relish repeating the experience. Today more than ever, success in cricket will depend largely on the ability of the promoters to satisfy its several publics in search of an entertainment spectacle. (Reprinted from the ‘Barbados Nation’ of Wednesday, May 7, 2003)

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