With eight days to go before the arrival of the world champion Australians for their tour of the Caribbean, the West Indies team is without a captain, coach or manager and a decision on those appointments won't be made until after a WICB directors' meeting this Sunday (March 30).
Can someone explain what on earth is going on? The first Test in Guyana is about three weeks away and the players have no clue who will be their captain, coach or manager. At this rate, no one should be surprised when we are crushed by those rampaging, clinical, professional Australians.
The WICB put out a press release on Monday morning, announcing that its board of directors would meet at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort in Barbados this coming Sun-day to brainstorm recommendations from special sub-committees for the vacant posts of coach, manager and captain.
That basically means an appointment won't be made until Monday, March 31. That is exactly 10 days before the first Test at Bourda. To add to the board's decision-making folly, out of "fairness" (their word) to the India 'A' team, which arrived late for the Carib Beer through no fault but their own, the friendly folks at the WICB actually rescheduled the semis and finals of our regional tournament. Now, the Carib Beer finals won't end until April 7, three days before the first Test. That effectively means there won't be a pre-series preparatory camp and the players participating in the Carib Beer Cup playoffs will go straight from those matches into the Tests against Australia.
It is easy to say the that the senior team players should avoid the finals and rest to prepare for the Australians but, when sponsors shell out millions of dollars to prop up our cricket tournaments, they deserve full value for their money. Why should Ansa McAl, the makers of Carib Beer, accept a situation where Brian Lara or Shiv Chanderpaul aren't playing in the finals of a competition they are bankrolling?
They shouldn't and that's why rescheduling the semis and finals to accommodate the tardy Indians was dumb. Yes, it was very important that the West Indies 'B' team players get to play that final game in the preliminary rounds but the board could have simply allowed that game to be played on the same weekend with the semi finals.
The WICB fired its CEO Gregory Shillingford for alleged "non performance". What should we expect from the board for this latest series of blunders, which includes scheduling a Test match on Good Friday, only to change the itinerary when they belated "realised" the error. Can you imagine the thousands rushing to rejigger flight plans because the WICB messed up its scheduling? But, back to the issue of appointing a coach, a manager and a captain and the dishonest nature of the board's communication with the fans.
Here is a paragraph from today's press release:
"As normal operating procedure, the selection panel, under the chairmanship of Sir Vivian Richards, will pick their candidates and the names will be forwarded to the directors for consideration also on Sunday." Meanwhile, everyone and their grandmother knows the selection panel - Viv Richards, Joey Carew and Gordon Greenidge - huddled last Friday and has already made its choice.
Why does it take more than a week to communicate that choice to the WICB directors? Haven't they heard of the telephone and e-mail? In 2003, this level of madness won't be acceptable for a third-rate club team on any Caribbean island. But, with the WICB, we have come to expect it. Now, when disarray comes to the fore, the fans roll their eyes, the Caribbean media turns a blind eye (they dare not enrage the powers that be) and the cycle is repeated. The delay in appointing a captain suggests something broiling below the surface. We have already heard the rumours of disagreement between the board directors and the selection panel on its choice (to retain Carl Hooper) and, if these are true, it puts us back to square one where the autonomy of the selection panel is concerned.
WICB president Wes Hall, populist/politician that he is, has already set a dangerous precedent when he twice overruled decisions that Viv Richards was involved in, both regarding Marlon Samuels (once when he was sent home from India and then during the pre World Cup controversy).
If the rumours hold true that the directors aren't happy with the recommendation of Carl Hooper for the captaincy position, it means the selectors will again be overruled (remember that Lara/Walsh episode?)