The West Indies Cricket Board –– similar to Shivnarine Chanderpaul –– is not getting any younger. But the babble emanating from the mouths of some of its major administrative agents would be the envy of most infants.
Kerry Packer’s Clive Lloyd has had a catharsis in his second coming. He has correctly advised the present crop of West Indies cricketers not to adopt the road he once took in 1977-1978 when he placed the almighty dollar above loyalty to
the West Indies Cricket Board and regional cricket and headed a mercenary cricketing revolt.
“We have a problem where most of our players, our top players, are leaving to go into the Twenty20 and ignoring our domestic cricket. I want our cricket to be the main course and the IPL to be the snack; but it’s the other way around,” Mr Lloyd said last week at the University of the West Indies, while stressing that money should not be the only deciding factor for our region’s cricketers.
For a few fleeting moments, Damascus had moved to Cave Hill and Mr Lloyd floundered between Saul and Paul.
Coach Phil Simmons also joined the Vaudeville act in his pronouncements on the great Chanderpaul and the latter’s unsavoury dismissal from the job, which he undertook with pride for 21 years.
“When we went through the process, he didn’t fit in; so it’s not about giving someone two Tests to finish their career. It’s about picking the best team to play the next game,” Simmons said, inherently meaning that in May, 2015, Mr Chanderpaul was not among the six best batsmen in the Caribbean. Balderdash!
The affable Trinidadian might very well become an excellent coach for the regional side. But it must have been particularly galling for Mr Chanderpaul and others of his pedigree to listen to someone who made mediocrity in 26 Tests look stunningly adequate –– speak of the left-handed Guyanese’s ability to fit into any organized regional side.
Rewind the WICB’s roaring comedy act to October, 2013. The Board Of Control For Cricket in India had decided to arrange a farewell series for their icon Sachin Tendulkar, with all the attendant pomp and pageantry befitting his contributions to Indian life.
It wasn’t important to India that the 40-year-old Tendulkar’s form had been on the decline and that he had not scored a century since January 2, 2011. They had approached the WICB about facilitating the series which was not on the Future Tours Programme. Predictably, the WICB understood the importance which honouring Mr Tendulkar meant for the Indians and hurriedly shepherded to the subcontinent a team that was summarily slaughtered.
Fast-forward to May, 2015, where the WICB, through its agents the reborn Lloyd and the stunningly adequate Simmons, basically makes a decision that equates to a statement that one of their own does not merit the treatment they facilitated Mr Tendulkar with. And to add insult to injury, an impersonal dismissal letter was the closest to pomp and pageantry afforded Mr Chanderpaul.
Interestingly, the champion batsman had no intention of attempting to play into his nonagenarian years and had indicated he wanted to retire on his terms during the Australian series.
“My request to finish up with the Australian series is not asking too much. It gives me a chance to acknowledge my supporters at home, and the possibility of the WICB properly honouring me for my contribution to WI cricket. I should not be pushed into retirement. Here is a situation where I firmly believe public opinion would be in favour of my being given the opportunity to play in my final Test series at home. Thanks,” Chanderpaul wrote to the WICB.
Chanderpaul’s 21 years of diligent toil for the West Indies need no regurgitating. His record places him among the greatest produced in the Caribbean, and he is deserving of respectful treatment.
There are young men and women watching and weighing possible loyalty to the WICB or to Twenty20 franchises across the globe. This is a deleterious example being set for them by the WICB.
Facilitating two Test matches in Dominica and Jamaica is not about runs and records for Mr Chanderpaul. It is about respecting yeoman service and providing him with the opportunity to be suitably acclaimed by his cheering home fans. It is also an opportunity for regional administrators to show they have learned from the errors of their treatment of the likes of Desmond Haynes and others.
The WICB facilitated Mr Tendulkar in a foreign land; Mr Chanderpaul should not be treated like a pariah in his own backyard.
WICB president Dave Cameron’s virtual soliloquy about treatment of senior players and giving them a proper send-off has now been exposed as nothing more than baby babble.