A lack of professionalism along with egotistical attitudes has contributed to the drastic downfall of West Indies Cricket, says former Barbados fast- bowling allrounder Franklyn Stephenson.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY about the latest drop of the senior West Indies team to its lowest International Cricket Council test ranking of ninth in the world, Stephenson said the senior West Indies team was “up against it” and he didn’t see them being able to recover anytime soon.
“You have a young team that is pretty much beaten in their minds already, they don’t feel adequate as you can see. They don’t believe that they could do the job. And so, where do you get that sort of confidence? You need a good management team around you, you need to be in the workshop and coming out with a positive frame of mind. And it takes even more than that, you must have that will to succeed.
“By now we should really be showing the world that we are the number one destination for cricket development and cricket life. But instead of taking the gift we had and growing it, we have simply destroyed it with our egos and lack of professional approach to what the game really should mean to Caribbean people,” Stephenson argued.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, the West Indies ruled the cricket world, but last week’s ICC release was another sad reminder of the West Indies’ freefall into decline. Their 2-0 whitewash at the hands of New Zealand last December saw the team lose five points and drop to 67. They are ahead of struggling Zimbabwe by a mere two points, with the African side bottom of the table in the tenth position. Bangladesh earned four rating points and are now on 75 in eighth place ahead of the West Indies. Bangladesh are slated to tour the Caribbean in July and August.
Though many are of the view that the T20 format has hurt the quality of regional cricketers and continues to be to the detriment of Test cricket, the head of the Franklyn Stephenson Academy begged to differ.
“We had a chance to groom our cricket, so I am not going to blame the T20 format for our demise…In my time playing cricket in the Caribbean, we didn’t have a Trinidad to go across and play for, we couldn’t swap teams and we had so many players. Right now, the players are waiting for the board to produce that livelihood for them. Right now we have not only got West Indies A, B, West Indies Under-19, they have the Big Bash, the India Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and so on. So I still think that we could have produced players for all those professional leagues,” Stephenson explained.
The passion and love that made West Indies giants of the game back in their glory days are among the ingredients Stephenson explained were needed to make the team great again. He said the players were not to be blamed but more so the administration who he blamed for the failed infrastructure that has allowed the region’s cricket to flounder.
But, he still held the players to some account.
“The West Indies team are up against it, they haven’t put in the work over time and the more experienced players have been out now for a while. And even so, when they were with the team, you weren’t getting that feeling that they were putting their best effort in. The interest was T20 cricket and making fast money in the shorter format of the game. So, you need the love of the game and pride of the people coming back in the sport to go out there in this hard format [Test cricket] and fight. Be prepared to walk in there and fight for five days and come away with decent performances. So, it is going to take a lot more than the West Indies have shown that they have put in place during the past few years.
“We here in the Caribbean with such a rich history of cricket and with basically twelve months of summer, we had it in our power to groom cricketers. We have let our infrastructure fall apart and of late cricket has been on the back burner for the West Indies Board, and even for the Barbados Cricket Association which is not looking to put the right things and people in place to look out for longevity in the game. We have seen our playing fields diminish, our teams diminish and really and truly we are not a cricketing area anymore where the Caribbean is concerned,” said Stephenson, an outstanding English County cricketer who finished his career with 792 first-class wickets at an average of 24.26 with 44 five-wicket hauls and 10 ten-wicket hauls, to go along with 8 622 runs at 28 with 12 centuries and 43 fifties.