The West Indies cricket team defeated England to win the T-20 cricket world championship just seven years ago. However, the team has never recovered since that point. At CWC 2019, the WI failed to put on a better performance.
And even before the T20 World Cup officially started in 2022, they were figuratively disqualified. The new players are in a downward spiral, and the immediate dissolution of the WI team is now clearly visible. The reason? Well of course due to their own singular focus on 20-over cricket.
According to a new report commissioned by Cricket West Indies, West Indies cricket ‘may cease to exist’ if its players continue to prioritize T20 leagues instead of international cricket.
The report was compiled by a three-man panel led by Brian Lara with Mickey Arthur and judge Patrick Thompson as the other members. The report stressed, “It is essential that some middle ground is arrived at. Otherwise, West Indies cricket may cease to exist as an entity.”
Prominent West Indian cricketers like Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and Chris Gayle, among others, have also echoed these statements.
The pay dispute
The pay dispute has frequently been the source of conflict within the WI teams. Other times, the players have chosen to play franchise cricket after being abruptly fired or ignored by the CWI from a particular bilateral series. In this reports’ opinion, there is significant mistrust between the players and administration, and this mistrust is detrimental to ensuring that the best 11 players turn out for the WI Team in every match.
The West Indies have enjoyed success in the T20 format, winning the World Cup in 2012 and 2016 – only England has also won the competition twice. But in Australia in 2022 , the Caribbean side finished bottom of their group, finishing behind Zimbabwe, Ireland and Scotland. The main reason behind this was that the team players were “underprepared” and pointed the finger at the short time between the Caribbean Premier League tournament and the T20 World Cup.
But, the other side of the story is that WI selectors gave the sole focus to T20 only. Whereas, all other formats were firmly ignored.
Players and form were ignored
There was a time when the WI bowling attack was feared by many as the bounce used to scare the batsman and even injure them. WI player Andy Roberts had the record of pacing the ball at 159 mph in the 1970s. Today, the WI has lost that bowling charm.
All they had to focus on was an attacking spree during batting. And that’s where the first cracks in the WI team came out wide open. It was almost fervent that the team was left out of the situation due to the internal conflict and strife between the selection committee and players.
The West Indies team needs to establish clear channels for talent management, development, and identification. If not, other professional leagues that can afford to harvest and develop the players for their benefit run the risk of strip-mining West Indies cricket.