West Indies cricket dare to dream of better times?


A surfeit of bad news such as is caused by crime, war, natural disasters, economic fallout, etc, can kill the spirit.

The West Indies team

For many people sport provides that precious escape window which helps to maintain equilibrium, even sanity.

The ‘lift’ for Jamaicans triggered by the achievements of our track and field stars at major global events, such as the Olympics, is well recognised. And, while the Reggae Boyz have had another failed Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign, none who experienced it will likely forget the overwhelming ‘feel good’ of 25 years ago when that team qualified.

Older folk can testify that the West Indies cricket teams of decades past consistently brought a similar lift.

Sadly, in more recent times, such success on the cricket field has come few and far between. Hence the expressions of surprised delight whenever the West Indies win, such as Sunday when the men’s team comprehensively defeated the “old enemy” England in the third and final Test match in spectacularly beautiful Grenada — the Spice Isle.

It followed two drawn games in which the Caribbean men pulled together and fought like tigers with backs to the wall.

The success of the men’s Test team against England followed that of the women, who upset the odds by reaching the semi-finals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s 50-over World Cup in New Zealand.

Early on, in this space, we applauded the Ms Stafanie Taylor-led team for punching way above their weight in beating traditional women’s cricket giants New Zealand and England.

They must now face powerful, unbeaten Australia and are being given very little chance against confident, dominant opponents. But the Caribbean women thrive on being underdogs — such as in 2016 when they stunned the world by winning the ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

Beyond all that, a huge weakness for both men’s and women’s West Indies teams is inconsistency. These past many years they have failed to build on success or to stitch together a long winning run. That has to start happening if the West Indies as a cricket entity — recently described by business leader Mr Chris Dehring as an “accident of history” — is to survive.

In that regard, we are pleased by the recent announcement of a planned Emerging Players Academy in Antigua aimed at the “development of world-class players”. Logically, world-class teams should flow from world-class players.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) says the first intake of men and women cricketers, aged 19 to 25, should happen in July. High-performance training should run throughout the year, every year.

Cricket watchers know that initiatives similar to this have happened before, only to fall by the wayside because of resource and related pressures. Such projects require money which is in very short supply at the CWI.

Corporate sponsorship and regional governments’ support can help. But such partnerships only come if there is belief in the viability of any given project, hence the importance of success such as was achieved against England yesterday and at the ongoing Women’s World Cup.

It’s the old chicken and egg conundrum.

If our cricketers can somehow find a way to string such performances together, despite the odds, support will come. And, who knows, perhaps that glorious accident of history could yet survive. Dare we dream?