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Tuesday, December 20, 2011



It was good to hear Sir Viv come out and speak frankly about the captaincy of Darren Sammy. He claimed that although Sammy is definitely not in the category of great (or even good) captains, his attempts to motivate the team have been admirable.

Previously, Sir Viv also took the cricketing authorities to task for their untenable marginalisation of former West Indies opener Chris Gayle.

Generally, I share Sir Viv’s sentiments; and indeed they are welcomed – and perhaps a lot more tenable than the hardlined and seemingly uncompromising position of the WI cricketing authorities in respect of Gayle, which seem to be steadily losing merit, especially as the thin layer of emotion wears out and logic and wisdom come to the fore.

It is perceived by many that West Indies Cricket is in a deep “black hole” with no immediate prospects of escape within sight. The “on the field” performance has been uninspiring and the “off the field” behaviour has been the subject of much controversy. The big question is: Are the two interrelated or inter-causal? Suffice it to say that there seems to be a strong, prevailing ”hypothesis of no difference”, albeit vague.

The fact that we have three St. Lucians at the helm (namely Dr Julian Hunte, Dr Ernest Hilaire, and Darren Sammy) has drawn St. Lucia into the centre of the debate.

Let's be fair: the hypothesis of no difference “on the field” and “off the field” is not entirely without merit and it’s not entirely “un-falsifiable” either! What may be unfair is the attribution of the current failure of the West Indies to the St. Lucians holding the three top positions;  not that they are un-blameworthy but to assign the blame to at their foot may be dishonest and unfair.  

Popular and experienced West Indies Cricket commentator, Tony Cozier - immersed in his own Bajan-centric idiosyncrasies has been circling around some of those issues – not necessarily offering relevant solutions, but apparently more intent on generating discourse in a certain direction - the direction of “dissensus”.

The recently concluded one-day series against India has perhaps given Tony’s "fast medium" ramblings a little more "pace" and he is now bringing his bouncers closer to the body of WICB, pitching them short of a good length, directing them towards the bodies of Hilaire and Hunte.

We cannot claim that the West Indies “on-the-field” performance has escaped scrutiny - indeed, it needs greater scrutiny; and the hypothesis that Darren Sammy is more of a “liability than an asset” to the Team is definitely gaining plausibility – despite Sir Viv’s diplomatic enticements relating to the West Indies skipper.

The recent series against India gave us “on again” and “off again” hope – hope which was dashed as quickly as it was raised; and so the perennial cycle of failure continued.

West Indies are 7th in the World rankings and India did justice to that "statistic" by pummeling our bowling attack, especially in the one day series to record the 4th highest total ever achieved in this form of the game and one of their batsman added more insult to injury by achieving the highest individual score in a one day series.

I do not subscribe to the irrationality and conspiracy theories concocted by Tony Cozier who I believe can do better. Some of the pseudo-political issues raised by him in a recent article in the Trinidad Guardian appear more “art” than “matter”, more irrational than rational, more imagined than real, more destructive than constructive to West Indies cricket.

Writing in the Trinidad Guardian, Cozier argued that “both Hunte and Hilaire are politicians with prominent positions on the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP)” and posits that now that the SLP was “elected as the government” they “could come under the ICC microscope”.

Cozier’s argument is not only non-sequitur, puerile and largely untenable; it is fundamentally misplaced. Moreover, in it there is a hidden and silly suggestion of exclusion of the two gentlemen from West Indies cricket on the ground that they have openly and honestly expressed their political affiliation. That type of polemic has its colonial context but this is outside the scope of this article.

Does Tony have evidence to “prove” that their affiliation is a ”counter-instance” to the growth and success of WI Cricket? In my opinion, he has largely ignored – or deliberately chose to be ignorant of – the political context and international realities of the sport.

Although the ICC categorically rejected Tony’s hypothesis of politics and West Indies cricket, it apparently left traces of doubt in his mind; he apparently was not happy with the ICC ruling even when he conceded that “the ICC move to prevent government interference was specifically aimed at Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where government control of cricket is comprehensive".

Another Cozier irrationality was reflected in the claim that “There remain those close to the ground in St Lucia who believe, once his contract expires, Hilaire will return to government business, now that the SLP is back in power.” I have not understood the heuristic of this argument. I will only say that Cozier was perhaps ventriloquizing.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I am very concerned about the future of West Indies cricket. I am aware of the proliferation of anti-Lucian sentiments doing the rounds on some cricketing blogs and the extrapolation of the administrative idiosyncrasies of Hilaire and Hunte to St. Lucia as a whole. I wish we would to demarcate with honesty. The two gentlemen are not representing St. Lucia’s interest in West Indies cricket; the fact that they are St. Lucians on the Board is largely coincidental.

In any case, West Indies decline predates the ascension of the three St. Lucians at the top.

Arguably, there may have been some gains; but they have not been fundamental or sustainable. Sammy’s captaincy is under the microscope and I believe his days may be numbered. If he were not the captain, would he have earned a place on the side?

Lately, I find him making tactical errors and dropping simple catches.  As Sir Viv said, he tries to inspire and energise the team on the field but I also believe he has fundamental leadership limitations; his batting and bowling obviously also lack consistency. I can’t remember him playing a quality captain’s innings.

The fundamental question is: Will the selectors (not Hunte and Hilaire) keep Sammy as Captain of the West Indies? I won’t be surprised that they don’t!

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