ON THE BOUNDARY – One more insult to the people of the West Indies…by some people in the West Indies
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has named a new coach for the West Indies team and, as good or as brilliant as John Dyson may be, I do not agree with it. And I do not agree with it for one simple reason.
I believe, and no one can change my mind on this, that it is an insult, not only to West Indies cricket and not only to those West Indians who have played the game and who are involved in coaching but also, and more importantly, to the people of the West Indies.
Australia are the best in world, there can be no question about that and in their bid to be the best in the world, that may be why the Board, as those in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have done or are doing, have gone once again for an Australian coach.
The Board should remember, however, that after making their debut in Test cricket in 1928, the West Indies rose to be among the best in a short time. By the 1960s they were unofficial champions of the world, between 1976 and 1995 they were the best, officially and unofficially, in the world.
One of those teams, with the likes of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd, Alvin Kallicharran and Lawrence Rowe, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft around, is arguably the greatest team in the history of the game.
Produced great players
Over the 79 years since the beginning, the West Indies have produced some of the greatest players in the world including Gary Sobers, Richards and Brian Lara, three batsmen, apart from George Headley who matched strides with Don Bradman, rated as the best of their time and among the best of all time, and in Sobers, the boy from Bay Street in Bridgetown, they possessed, undoubtedly, the greatest cricketers of all time.
On top of that, two West Indians, Frank Worrell and Lloyd, are rated among the greatest captains of all time. Along with that, six of the 15 cricketers who have been knighted for their great performances in the game are West Indians, and all that was before the coming of the Australians.
In other words, but for the early days when the English played their part, West Indies cricket developed under West Indian eyes and over the years, including the years of glory, including those 19 years when they were the best on the planet, it has been played the West Indies way.
West Indies cricket is good enough to find a coach from among those West Indians who have played the game and to go outside to find one is a waste of money – money that is so needed at the grassroot level of the game at that.
It is, however, more than that, and that is what hurts.
No faith in our people
The employment of a foreigner, an Australian, to coach the West Indies team, suggests, at least it does to me, that despite the achievements of West Indians with bat and ball and as captain, and even though a West Indian has been the president of the ICC, the Board has no faith in its own people, not to do a heart transplant, not to rid the world of a plague, but to coach a cricket team – their own cricket team.
That, to me, is telling the people of the West Indies that they are not good enough. That, to me, in the 21st century, is an insult to the people of the West Indies.
When I look at the coaches of Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, that tells me something. That, to me, is one reason why some people in the world believe they are superior to West Indians; that, to me, is one reason why some West Indians may always feel inferior to some people in the world; and that, to me, is one reason why, as good as Dyson may be, as talented as the West Indian cricketers may be, it will take a long time for them to win again.
The West Indies Board has, once again, failed the people of the West Indies.
Way back in 1950, C. L. R. James, a great West Indian, was at Lord’s when the West Indies, under John Goddard and with champions like Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, Sonny Ramadhin and Alfred Valentine, won their first match in England. And, after writing about the celebration, he told the story of over-hearing an Englishman saying to another Englishman, “Imagine, how great they are and yet it takes a white man to lead them.”
Things, it appears, have not changed, at least not, it seems, as far as the Board is concerned.
For the West Indies, victory in cricket is important and there is no question about it. The price, under a foreign coach, under an Australian, however, is too high.
Regardless of how good and how qualified he is, I wonder when the world will see a West Indian, a Pakistani, or an Indian as the coach of Australia, England, South Africa or New Zealand.