(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Victory by the young West Indies squad in the recently concluded ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup brought not only relief, but unmitigated joy to the West Indian cricket fan who has suffered day after day, series after series, quarrel after quarrel, as those representing us, either on the field or off the field, appear to strive valiantly to make the game of cricket relevant only to those who are interested in the scores in a match.
The following day, therefore, the red carpet treatment arranged by grateful fans to the returning conquerors was welcomed. However, the joy of the real cricket fan was tempered by the bizarre rush to claim responsibility for the victory by the much pilloried president of the West Indies Cricket Board, Mr Dave Cameron.
As is now usual, Mr Cameron congratulated himself and the board for the “preparation” of the team before they reached Bangladesh, conveniently forgetting that the successful coach of the team, on his arrival in Bangladesh, bemoaned the lack of match preparation of the team before their arrival in the venue of the World Cup.
The veracity of the coach’s complaint was revealed by the fact that our young heroes lost their three warm-up games against the host nation and also lost their opening game against England. After a start like that and the ensuing media firestorm after the win against Zimbabwe, the resilience and character shown by the team, and to no small extent, the coach and the experienced staff that accompanied the team, is one of the reasons the West Indies triumphed.
It has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Cameron and his fellow executives, who are determined to stay in charge of West Indies cricket against the wishes of some fans, some prime ministers, and some of the ordinary citizens of this region.
That cut like a knife when his self congratulatory statement was heard.
Every fan and student of the game now recognises the importance of keeping this group of cricketers together, while continuously exposing them to superior skills.
The call to “do a South Africa” and include fast bowling sensation Alzarri Joseph into the senior squad in time for the June series of international matches – as was done by South Africa after their triumph in the last World Cup on the back of their fast bowler, Kagisi Rabada – has been initiated by Tony Cozier, a noted West Indian scribe and cricket guru.
This call is reasonable and makes excellent cricketing sense, but the implementation of this suggestion has to be ratified by a group of men (the selectors).
Previous groups of young West Indians have been neglected, and as a consequence, they are out of the sport. As long as this board remains in charge, I do fear that the same neglect will follow, no matter what the president says now.