The just concluded Caribbean Premier League T20 cricket tournament has revealed some good things and bad things about Caribbean cricket.
The tournament has unearthed some useful talent in the Caribbean. But it has also shown how far behind the rest of the world the Region is in terms of the development of its cricket and players.
Some very talented players emerged out of this year’s tournament both in the batting and the bowling department. These players need to be blooded in the longer versions of the game because this is where their skills can be better honed.
In the past, the senior player restricted the development of younger players.
The senior players that were failing consistently were not being dropped because it was felt they were the ‘class’ players but the younger players even though they performed were not given an extended run as some of the older players.
The West Indies have talented players but they are not fully ready for international cricket. They need further exposure. A number of the players who emerged in this year’s CPL should make it into the IPL. They should begin to replace some of the more senior players whose stardom is beginning to diminish.
During the CPL 2017, these foreign based batsmen again showed their superiority. There was no dominant star from the Region, but that is the nature of T20 cricket. It is a hit and miss game which does not allow for consistent performance over so many matches.
The CPL has confirmed that the Caribbean is falling behind the rest of the world. The West Indies Cricket Board, unfortunately, is being blamed for the low international ratings of the West Indies team and their poor performance. But the fact of the matter, as the CPL showed, is that the rest of the world has sprinted ahead of the West Indies in terms of the quality and development of their cricket.
The challenge for the Regional Cricket Boards therefore, is to develop the talent that exists and to bring it up to that of the rest of the world, especially the Australians and South Africans. These countries have shown that they have depth in terms of their cricket development
The Caribbean’s performance in international youth cricket has shown that we are not far behind the rest of the world.
In fact, the Caribbean won the last under 19 World Cup. The problem arises in the transition from youth cricket to senior cricket. The Caribbean is not making that transition because of the poor development programmes within the Region. Why is this so?
First, the young cricketers are not being given adequate chances in the senior teams. In the past, it was almost automatic that once you made the West Indies under 19, that you would be injected into the senior side. This is not happening because the selectors still favour a lot of the older senior players even though many of them are inconsistent for a very long time
Second, the junior players are not developing fast enough. They are taking too long to become senior players. This may have worked in the past but it is not going to work now. Players need to be given the training to develop faster.
Third, this sloth in the development of players has to be hastened through better facilities. Every major international cricket club has indoor practice pitches, nets, gyms and proper coaches. In the Caribbean, the clubs are scraping the bottom of the barrel just to stay in the black. The clubs need to be restructured.
We can beat up all we want on the WICB. The fact of the matter is that the problem is at the national level. The problem is poor facilities. The problem is our development programme after youth cricket.
The Caribbean has to go back to the old formula which was responsible for making the West Indies team into the world’s greatest team. That formula was to use Regional tournaments to expose local talent and then send them to England to hone their skills.
The English market is now closed because of limitations on the number of overseas players which clubs can play in a match, but there are other leagues in which the Regional players can develop their skills. The Caribbean has to find another way. That way is the CPL.
The CPL is a window into the talent of the Region. But talent is not enough. What is needed is to develop that talent as the English clubs did with our great West Indian players.
The CPL which is televised around the world, allows others to be able to see this talent and to recruit our players to the big leagues where they can improve their talent. The CPL, therefore, should be supported. It is the best thing that has happened to Regional cricket after Stanford.
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