Cable and Wireless departure a blow to regional cricket Sports Comment...
By Troy Peters
Stabroek News
June 30, 2004

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While captain Brian Lara and his young West Indies team are attempting to turn around the fortunes of the regional cricket team on their current tour of England, a significant development has taken place in the Caribbean.

The news over the weekend that the region's major cricket benefactor Cable and Wireless (C&W) pulled the plug on sponsorship of West Indies home series and will now focus its support on the ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007 has come as a shock to many.

The report from CMC in Barbados, indicated that the news is not totally surprising following unconfirmed reports during this year's home series that C&W was looking at exploring other opportunities in cricket.

Those who know of the importance of sponsorship and the role that Cable and Wireless played in the upliftment of cricket in the region, would realise that it is a gigantic blow which could have serious consequences for the Caribbean's future development plans.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has a daunting task in securing another sponsor with similar commitment since the performance of the West Indies team has waned tremendously, coupled with problems which have developed at the administrative level of the game.

C&W 's Usman Saadat, vice-president of marketing and cricket co-ordinator was quoted as saying that his company is proud of being able to leave behind a path well paved with world-class, well-executed plans.

The regional telecommunications giant's contribution is an exemplary one, which, the Caribbean peoples, should be extremely thankful for.

In its 18 years of sponsorship, C&W has stuck with the region through thick, which covered the period of dominance by the West Indies team on the world stage, and thin, the most recent period which has seen the performance of the Windies plummet to its lowest depth.

It is important to note that captain Lara broke the world batting record twice in ten years at the Antigua Recreation ground (ARG) under the banner of C&W.

Regional cricket fans were fortunate to witness the West Indies team's humiliation of England, Australia, Pakistan, and India as well as series wins against New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh during the West Indies' golden period.

It is heartening to know that C&W has signalled its intention to remain in the cricket arena for the next three years through its commitment to CWC 2007 and the sponsorship of a number of key West Indies players including Lara.

Reports state that Digicel, C&W's biggest competitor in the Caribbean cellular market, is the leading candidate to become the new sponsors of the West Indies home series over the next three years.

However, the West Indies team's performance in England and their build up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup will be key to the WICB landing the kind of long-term sponsorship deal.

The pressure in now on the current crop of players under Lara's leadership to deliver the goods and if last Sunday's showing against the Englishmen in the NatWest one-day series was an inkling of a resurgence of the team, then maybe, the region will be able to land a sponsor of the calibre of the departing Cable and Wireless.