Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Jan 26, 2014 Sports
Colin E. H. Croft
It was from former West Indies Cricket Board President Pat Rousseau that I remember hearing it, during West Indies tour to England 1995, my first tour as a Sports Journalist, a series that West Indies led until England won Test No. 4 of 6, to draw the series 2-2, that warning that fell on very deaf ears:
“If West Indies does not keep winning on the field of play, to be attractive to the much better financed and bigger teams around the world, the time will come when we, as a cricket playing nation, could be severely jeopardized into being almost extinct, as we are much too small, financially and geographically, to fight against the big teams that have the money. We need to keep winning on the field of play to matter!”
This was way before T-20 cricket became the in-thing and destructor of what was cricket back then!
The biggest irony, now, of that 1995 tour is that every single day of six Tests – Lords, Trent Bridge, Old Trafford, Edgbaston, Kennington Oval and Leeds – was sold out, thousands unable to gain entrance.
Back then, every cricketing country still wanted West Indies on their shores, for attractive cricket, and, more importantly, to ensure severely green coffers at least for twelve months!
Everyone clamored for Brian Lara, Richie Richardson, Carl Hooper, Jimmy Adams, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Kenny Benjamin and Ian Bishop, an excellent combination, to do their West Indian thing.
Twenty years later, Rousseau, learned guru he still is, in veins of Jamaican counterpart, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, has been proved very correct, and in only one sense, wrong too!
Rousseau was only incorrect in that South Africa, No. 1 team in world cricket now, is not immediately – not yet – included in the cricket cartel conjured up by International Cricket Council (ICC), Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Australian Cricket Board (ACB), and England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
So, even with high ICC rankings, but not having won any major competitions, SA is out, at least for now.
That can probably be more attributed to the seemingly severe dislike by present ICC and BCCI regimes of present head of Cricket South Africa, Haroon Lorgat, who was once ICC’s Chief Executive Officer.
The word “cartel” conjures imagination of collaboration of severely wealthy drug barons from Central and South American republics coming together, like a massive political coalition party, to run cocaine exports to Europe and Northern America, maximizing profits while minimizing detection and in-fighting deaths.
This new proposed cricket cartel sounds exactly like that, rich mostly businessmen conspiring to steal world cricket, except that they are committing larceny of our cricket in bright open sunlight, in front of our very faces!
BCCI’s position is, pure and simple, open black-mail.
They know that they have massive finances, so, very publicly, in almost plain non-diplomatic speech, they have told ICC:
“Put up or shut up. Accept what we propose or lose out on our participation and our funding. Take it or leave it!”
BCCI is, if no-one believed it previously, flexing its massive financial muscles, calling the tune it has been paying for this last decade or so, especially since winning its last ICC World Cup in 2011.
This last week, several of the world’s cricket boards, including CSA and WICB, have been scrambling to find out, understand, appreciate and to reply appropriately, to this new, almost concrete, cartel edict.
Yet another Jamaican, Dave Cameron, present WICB President, is now left to hold the can, to do whatever it takes to clean up that mess left, partly, by our teams not winning regularly and being attractive over the last two decades, and to the outright greed and avarice of especially three of the cartel’s co-signees.
Correctly, intelligently, WICB has suggested that it will have an answer, and a public one too, after properly studying the situation, but will inform ICC first about the concerns and objections, before informing us.
No problem with that at all, even if the first reaction is normally the best and the most honest!
All Caribbean people want is truth, nothing but that whole truth!
By unconfirmed accounts published, WICB will not agree with the cartel’s edicts, which could well mean almost extinction with the very practical dissent to this proposal, as it is well known that West Indies cricket makes most of its money from tours to and from India and England, sometimes Australia.
Interestingly, CSA has openly questioned the cartel’s motives and plans, as if they did not already know.
Bangladesh has suggested that it must side with BCCI or die, while New Zealand has taken a wait and see attitude, but will probably side with ACB.
Sri Lanka is, like Bangladesh, cautiously toeing BCCI’s line. Like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe too will probably do likewise.
West Indies cricket is, more than ever, in severe jeopardy of disappearing from world view, placed between purgatory and hell right now, and can be left, eventually, very isolated indeed!
Something has got to give!
West Indies is fighting for its very life here! Enjoy!
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