Oral Tracey: West Indies cricket hurting
The teary-eyed outburst by West Indies cricket legend, Sir Garfield Sobers, has provided one of the most touching moments in the recent troubled history of West Indies cricket. The man who is widely regarded as the greatest all-round cricketer to have ever played the game was sharp, precise, and prudent with his prognosis of what is fundamentally going wrong currently with West Indies cricket. Unlike most of the region’s countless experts and analysts, Sir Garfield never sought refuge in denying the reality. He did not seek to go the easy route of blaming the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and its succession of inept administrators for the rapid and continuous decline of West Indies cricket. Sir Garfield’s observation was much more heartfelt, honest, and on point. With the admission that the fundamental problem crippling West Indies cricket, right now, is the fact that the current players in the region are not genuinely committed to the West Indian cause, but were more interested in using the West Indies team as a stepping stone towards playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League and we assume other Twenty20 cricket leagues. In fighting back the tears, Sir Garfield made the not-so-subtle comparison between the attitude of the players when he represented the West Indies and that of the current crop of players. With his voice cracking under the emotions of the moment, Sir Garfield said: “I never made a single run for myself, I made all the runs for the West Indies.” The legend concluded that if the mindset of West Indian players doesn’t change, the regional team will continue to struggle for a long time and that many countries will surpass the West Indies. With his eyes glistening with tears, Sir Garfield said of all this: “It hurts.” Not only did it hurt Sir Garfield to utter those poignant words, I suspect it hurt many cricket fans all over the world to see the kind of pain that West Indies cricket has inflicted on this international legend and hero of the game. The passionate honesty was impressive by the man who, for many years, held the world record for the most runs scored in a Test innings (365) before it was broken by Brian Lara. He clearly was not among the emotional dreamers who continue to envisage getting back to that elusive space on the top of world cricket after eventually turning that endless corner. There was a tone of finality, a feel of painful resignation in what Sir Garfield said and how he said it. The tears suggested an acknowledgement that West Indies cricket has passed the point of no return. The 79-year-old legend provided a rational and balanced encapsulation of what is the most recent game-changer in the demise of West Indies cricket. In a context where too many people across the Caribbean maintain their emotional hold on the myth of a West Indies resurgence, based on the belief in the much-used clichÈs that if only the governance structure of the regional board should change, or the board was more transparent and administrators were more efficient, then West Indies cricket would rise again. Personally, I feel honoured to be in the same mental space as the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers as it relates to the worsening demise of our cricket. We absolutely see what has happened and is still happening to West Indies cricket and we are not afraid to face and accept it.