Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NO LAUGHING MATTER: West Indies are we

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Much has been said about the recent West Indies abortion of the Indian cricket tour. All the varied perspectives are probably right. All the criticisms of the three entities – the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the West Indies Players association (WIPA) and the players who walked off the job – are well founded.

All three parties have been found guilty of poor judgement, lack of respect for each other, insensitivity, and most of all causing monumental global embarrassment to the region, the wider Caribbean, the various diasporas where Caribbean people reside, and even to all black people worldwide.

He who believes that black people do not hurt when black people commit acts of major embarrassment which tend to set us back hundreds of years and thereby appear to erase much of the progress which we have literally slaved for, is probably not conscious of the real world.

This must be recorded as one of the worst handled sporting disputes ever.

This is not the first time that the WICB has experienced hiccups. We all remember the five “over-age” cricketers who had to return home after they were already on tour in an “age-limited” competition. Then there was the regional competition when a specially invited Indian team showed up two weeks late due to poor communication. Of course, we all can remember when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was replaced by Carlton Baugh due to a “typo”.

WIPA, too, has had its share of controversies. Not so long ago this bargaining body withdrew the services of its members and a new captain along with new and inexperienced players had to be hurriedly assembled in order to save the approaching tour.

In 2010, WIPA stated that “the WICB, on most occasions, were guilty of issuing contracts at the 11th hour (or not at all) . . .”. On another occasion the WICB said that WIPA “is engaged in misinformation and muddling of facts”.

Strikes and dissatisfaction over pay have plagued West Indies cricket over the years. These are two bodies that should be working together for the advancement of West Indies cricket. However, it has always appeared that instead of ironing out their differences to achieve the common goal, they attack each other like enemies do.

And now the players themselves have made arguably the most damaging decision ever in sports history. Aborting in the middle of a planned tour is a major disappointment to so many entities: the hosts, sponsors, television networks, Press, broadcasters, general staff, groundstaff, security, hotels, fans and many more. Imagine all the contractual arrangements with transporters, food suppliers, airlines and numerous other associates.

Then there are the potential lawsuits and cancellation of future tours. A mess like no other.

So where are we now?

Now we know exactly who are to blame, and for what. But apportioning blame does not solve the problem. There are two vital questions that must be asked. How can we repair the damage? How are we going to ensure that nothing of this nature ever happens again?

I am confident that the politicians who have volunteered and the lawyer who has been retained to help “save our future”, will achieve their goal. They will use skill and tact which are foreign to the WICB, WIPA and the West Indies players.

My concern is how can we prevent this from recurring. The answer is education – not biology or French. Every cricketer in every regional Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 team must pass a special course which covers the history of cricket, the laws of cricket, the rudiments of business administration, public speaking, etiquette, analytical thinking, handling the Press, cultural practices of cricketing countries, negotiating skills, handling stardom, the psychology of sports, the physiology of exercise, the physical requirements for cricket and social interaction.

The WICB is “we”. WIPA is “we”. The players are “we”. They all come from among us. They are part of us.

This West Indies cricket team is of major importance to our global image. They have a world stage. They represent us not only in cricket and as ambassadors but as a “mentality” and as “maturity”. They display to the world who we are. They tell the world indirectly and directly if we are smart, learned, educated, intelligent and if we have common sense or not.

Bob Marley has gone and Rihanna will go but the West Indies cricket team will always be there to tell the world who and what we are.

• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary schoolteacher.

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