Cricket legend Sir Wes Hall is simply “over the moon”. However, his feelings over yesterday’s double victory by the West Indies men and women’s cricket teams still does not match that of the families of Hayley Matthew and Carlos Brathwaite.
Matthew’s dad told Barbados TODAY that he was “simply ecstatic” over his daughter’s performance, while Brathwaite’s father expressed immense pride.
“I had him in the yard from about two years old . . . so from early he always liked cricket. I remember I was working at Banks and during the Christmas period when I would be really tired this boy would meet me at the door with a bat and a ball.
“I used to say, ‘Carlos I am really tired. It’s not that I don’t want to play with you but I am really tired’. He used to say, ‘Daddy just bowl two or three balls at me’. But those two or three balls would turn into three hours,” Chesterfield Brathwaite said.
As Caribbean nationals everywhere were doing the “Champion Dance”, Sir Wes was also joined by other elite members of the cricketing fraternity in Barbados and the rest of the region in hailing the teams’ performance.
Congratulations also poured in from around the region, including from the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Irwin LaRocque. At the same time, Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley called for a regional honour for the West Indies cricket teams after they won the World Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday.
While describing it as “an outstanding achievement”, which sets the tone for the return to pre-eminence of the regional side, Lashley noted that the Caribbean was the only region treated as a country within the international cricketing arena as he challenged the region to respond as a collective.
“This is something that has to be a point of discussion at the CARICOM level. Given the significance of three of our teams, the Under-19, the women and the men . . . I believe now that a fitting award, agreed to and granted, upon their return, is something that I would think that is fitting,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
However, the minister said, the unspecified honour should only be viewed as a first step to a regional conversation aimed at integrating sports fully into the regional planning agenda.
He insisted that the cricketers’ accomplishments were significant enough to be recognized with a fitting honour for sports achievement.
“We are having a conversation as we speak about what should happen about the West Indies Cricket Board [WICB], its structure, is it doing what it should do? That’s the discussion that is happening now at the level of CARICOM. But now that our team has done well, a fitting award agreed to and granted upon their return is something that I think that will start the kind of discussion that says, ‘hey, we’re not only going to be critiquing West Indies cricket, but we are going to be rewarding excellence when it happens.
“We have to ensure that systems are put in place to guarantee continued excellence on the part of regional sports persons.”
Lashley also suggested that if the level of unity displayed on the cricket field in Kolkata on Sunday could be replicated at the political level, the Caribbean would be better off.
In yesterday’s first final, three times defending champion Australia went down to the Windies women who scored an emphatic eight wicket win, laying the foundation for what would be double glory for the Caribbean.
A few hours later, the region, which has been starving for cricketing success, was celebrating again, but this time after a nail-biting encounter with England, which ended with Brathwaite hitting four successive sixes off English all-rounder Ben Stokes.
However, the moment proved bittersweet for the WICB itself, as captain Darren Sammy criticized the board for a lack of support.
Lashley said the captain’s comments pointed to a certain level of “frustration” on the part of the players that needed to be addressed.
He also warned that resorting to punishment would be a “retrograde step” on the part of the WICB.
“I think the circumstances require a certain bit of effort by the West Indies Cricket Board to have dialogue and discussion. I think the board itself, based on its own utterances and some of the things they have done, in terms of not dealing with and not treating certain matters in the way that they should do it, they have a good opening now.
“Rather than revisiting Sammy’s comments with punishment or whatever, it should show that it has turned the corner and will entertain and have a discussion with the players to build better relations and to move forward,” Lashley said.
He added that the board now had an opportunity “to show its mettle” in dealing with a situation that has caused embarrassment.
Meanwhile, President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Joel Garner also had high praise for the teams.
“At the end of the day, the entire team did well and they were consistent in their performances.
“If you look at it, the territories have been fighting to try to get the programmes together to develop the skills and competencies of the players. I think that all we can do is continue to try to build on what we’ve got and continue to go forward irrespective of what people might think,” Garner told Barbados TODAY. (MCW)