|HOME | WORLD CUP 99 | WEST INDIES | OPINION | MICHAEL HOLDING|
|March 25, 1999||
From Calypso to Collapso -- what ails Windies cricket?Michael Holding
Between India's tour of the Caribbean in 1976 and Australia's tour for the region at just about the same time of the year in 1995, the West Indies went unbeaten in a Test series except for that very controversial tour of New Zealand in 1980.
Since that loss to Australia in 1995, however, fortunes have nosedived and if the truth be told, the West Indies were beginning to look very insecure even a few years before that loss, with only some hair raising, close shaves keeping them undefeated.
The Australians finally burst open the cracks on that fateful Caribbean tour and since then Pakistan, Australia again and, more recently, South Africa, have taken heavy toll of this Windies lineup. Of course, in between, the status quo has remained unchanged with regard to the mother country England, and teams like New Zealand and India.
However, throughout the Caribbean and even amongst non-West Indian cricket fans all over the world, questions were being asked, what has gone wrong with West Indies cricket?
Many theories have been put forward as to the reasons for the decline. For instance, the influx of satellite dishes and cable companies, leading to the saturation of American sports on our television sets far outweighing the amount of cricket seen by our youngsters, and the changing economies in the Caribbean making cricket too time consuming and expensive to play, are two reasons often put forward.
The West Indies Cricket Board has also been blamed for taking the game for granted, and not planning sufficiently for the future and also, in some quarters, for systematically brushing aside some of the great cricketers of the Eighties before their time. But while there is insufficient argument to categorically pin a lie to any of the above, I would suggest the skin has just been scratched.
The advent of satellite dishes and cable operators in the Caribbean was inevitable. As countries develop, more modern technology is available to its people and hence, nations and the people responsible for facilitating the growth of these nations have got to be forward thinking. Cricket and the University of the West Indies are the only two things that the English speaking Caribbean have to bond us together and they should be protected, almost at all costs. That means government involvement and support, financially that is, to help the W.I.C.B. keep cricket viable. There has been too much lip service given by Caribbean governments, with no hard cash forthcoming. That hard cash is needed to help the W.I.C.B. keep in place certain structures that have been put in place quite recently, which surely will benefit West Indies cricket in the long run.
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