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Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 13:34 GMT
Is there any way back for the West Indies?

West Indies cricket is in fresh turmoil. The sudden resignation of captain Brain Lara has again turned the focus on the steady decline of the former world-beaters.

Lara sadly summed up his reign in charge as: "Two years of moderate success and devastating failures." The failures included a 5-0 whitewash in South Africa and, this winter, a 2-0 defeat in New Zealand.

In the 1970s and 1980s the West Indies were unbeatable. Their fast bowlers terrified opponents while their batsmen piled on the runs. Not any more. The calypso kings have lost their crown. Morale is low and players are under-performing. Cricket at grass roots level also appears to be suffering, with more youngsters attracted to the rich glitz of American basketball.

Your reaction

Maybe the demise of West Indian cricket has to do with the lack of financial rewards on offer for there players. I don't believe there is more than one or two Windies players playing county cricket and none playing any where else around the world. There is no major sponsorship for them when you compare other countries i.e. Aussies (coca cola), Pakistan (pepsi) England being paid retainers upwards of 50,000 per man India, New Zealand who have major sponsorship there is no incentive for West Indian cricketers to put in that extra 10% to lift their game.
Colin Mason, England

There was a time when the windies were almost unbeatable. The likes of Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenich, Viv Richards, Richie Richardson, Clive Loyed. I don't think the West Indies can build a team like that in the near future and by near, I mean the next two to three years. Brain Lara to me is THE BEST BATSMAN in the world but he alone cannot make a difference.
Ahmed, USA

If the West Indian administrators have the common sense to protect the game and its grass roots, the team will rise again.

Mark Kidger, Tenerife, Spain
The Windies have been in decline for some years, but they'll be back. A little over 10 years ago Australian cricket had reached such a low ebb that people joked that if the official and "rebel" Australian sides were to meet in a hypothetical match then they would both lose. Cricket is cyclic. Almost all the test nations have at some point been able to claim that they are the best in the world.
Cricket has never been so competitive as it is now. A side can go from being one of the best to one of the worst in just a few years AND vice-versa (look at the rise of Sri Lanka). If the West Indian administrators have the common sense to protect the game and its grass roots, the team will rise again.
Mark Kidger, Tenerife, Spain

The problems are many but they start at the top There is never any consistency in choosing the team. Players like Colleymore, Dillon, and McLean have all played well, but are often left out of the team (Dillon was probably the best bowler in South Africa but he was sent home for the ODI series, go figure.) There is not enough being invested in the future and until the board stops blaming Lara and organises itself, we should expect more of the same terrible cricket.
Chris O, USA

It is sad to see the Windies in this sort of shape. It would be great to see them return to form as they are really talented and I am sure that other people feel it is what cricket is missing. With Australia and South Africa domineering cricket at the moment it is not enjoyable anymore. Let's hope that the Calypso Kings can improve and show the world they are not to be written off.
Deb, Souh Africa

Shouldn't the BBC be more concerned about whether there is anyway back for the Poms?
Mark Schuller, Australia

The problem lies squarely on administration. Richards and Kanhai know more about the game than Findlay & co. These guys in the administration have life time membership? What is going here? Please let the guys who have won show the rest how to do it.
Donald Royer, Dominica

When Pakistan come over, you watch, we are gonna give dem some serious licks.
David Ramroop, UK

How ridiculous it is to abandon hope in a test side with such talents as Lara and Chanderpaul still present?

Cricketing press bylines that begin 'is there any way back for....' (followed by England/Windies whoever) irritate me intensely - as if we really expect and want to see a country just pack up its kitbags and stop playing test cricket. That's a pathetic, gloom-mongering attitude, and cricket of all sports does not need that sort of negativity - from ignorant tabloid journalists, ex-Wisden editors, and certainly not the BBC, who usually resist the easy option of sensationalist trash.

I don't know if the glory days of the West Indies will ever be back, but I am one of those people yearning for it. Even a fraction of the seventies and eighties teem would do. Now that the pressure of captaincy is off his shoulders, I hope and pray that we will start to see the blazing Brian Lara whom we once saw. May the Laras and Tendulkars of the cricketing world delight us again!
S.Gobinathan, USA

Just browsing across the half dozen or so replies to the question says all you need to know about the state of cricket in the Caribbean. Just not enough people are interested
Craig Harry, England

First, the resignation of Brian Lara is a step in the right direction. Second, the West Indies ought to get a person such as Greg Chappell to coach their batsmen. Lara, Chanderpaul, Powell, Gayle, Sarwan, Adams, Jacobs, Campbell, should get some coaching from Rohan Kanhai, Greg Chappell or Gordon Greenidge. Dillon, King, Rose, McLean, Jeremy, Marlon Black, should plead with the W.I.B.C. to get someone like Dennis Lillee to train them, or else they should be sent to England to be trained. Ian Bishop went to England and it helped him.
Mahindra Maharaj, USA

I believe that the core of the problem is with the administration. The first step is to look at some history - at the time WI cricket was in the trusted hands of Rohan Kanhai. WI cricket unfortunately will continue to decline if we continue along the same path. We need a formula that we know worked!
Christopher Jaggernauth, Trinidad

With the departure of Brian Lara the final lustre and bright spot in West Indies cricket have gone. It would be interesting now to see who the West Indies Cricket Board will now blame for the team's future failures. They will find that a thorough assessment of their own role in the downfall of West Indies Cricket is now urgently required, if there's to be any salvaging of that enviable West Indian cricketing pride and a return of a first class team.
Ellen Lewis Adamson, Trinidad & Tobago

What we need to do is to firstly open up the Caribbean to our cricketers as never before.

Neal Baptiste, Trinidad, West Indies
For us in the Caribbean, a scattered string of islands and territories, this debate is as passionate as it can get. Cricket for many of us is now a one-day or a couple of days event where we meet, make limited preparations and stride into the game. This is further compounded by Cricket Season being hemmed in from all sides, sporting - basketball, football, athletics and cultural, Christmas, Carnival.
For the younger generation the commitment is elsewhere. For the older generation there is too much hankering over the rigidity, absolute obedience and dedication of those players to the game. What we need to do is to firstly open up the Caribbean to our cricketers as never before. We must not wait for once a year for one island to meet another. We need WICB sanctioned training camps in each territory, adequate facilities, good compensation and lastly good management.
Neal Baptiste, Trinidad, West Indies

Today's players are too busy 'making money' off the game rather than playing it.

Derick Bhupsingh, USA
The tragedy of WI Cricket is that many of the players are not learning the game properly. In the old days 100% effort and concentration was required to make the team, including practice. Today's players are too busy 'making money' off the game rather than playing it.
Players deserve compensation but they need to give back more to the game and apply themselves more, then the standard of WI Cricket might improve. I'm sorry to see Lara go, but West Indians had come accustomed to a lot of 'Success' and poor Brian could not give them that.
Derick Bhupsingh, USA

Since 1990 I follow the international cricket scene. Since then, the West Indies were by far the best team in the world. They were undefeated in about 13 years of Test Series cricket. Now they are in almost the same position as England. In away series humbled by the opposition. Last year WI lost 5-0 in Tests and 6-1 in one-dayers by South Africa and this year WI lost 2-0 in Tests and 5-0 (!) in one-dayers against New Zealand.
I do not know how strong their own Caribbean championship is, but there is a way back. They have to pick up now the best in-form players and to get a unit. West Indies still have great potential to be back in the top three of Test cricket.
Marko Koning, The Netherlands

It should not be overlooked that up and coming young cricketers in the West Indies do not get enough first class cricket. The premier Domestic cup the Busta Cup is one round then semi-finals and finals. If your team does not make the semi-final your first class season consists of FIVE matches. Hardly a good training ground!
Ivan Browne, Montserrat/Barbados

The evils that have plagued cricket in the Caribbean today are the very same ones that have wrought havoc with Indian cricket lately: a loosely-knit Cricket Board that has been consistently making ludicrous selections and omissions, a team comprising individuals who have shown total lack of devotion to the game and a media that has commercialized cricket to the extent that cricketers are spending more time nowadays in front of cameras doing ads and promos than at the nets mastering their drives and googlies. The overdependence on one-man ( Lara-centrism) and the sky-high expectations of thousands of cricket-lovers have only made the already-bad scenario worse.
Sai Chivukula, Indian in USA

The form we are currently seeing is only a temporary. There is so much talent in the region and I feel it is only a matter of re-marketing the game in order to ensure the talent is directed back towards cricket. Give it time and WI will be back on top of the world again.
Richard Mann, UK

Unless they improve the domestic game they will continue to produce sub-test players. The likes of Lara come only once in a while, just look at England, they still have not found anyone who can fill the shoes of Ian Botham.
Lyndon Raynor, Bermuda

It a long road back for the WI. Firstly a youth programme has to be put in place which reaches up to the 1st team. Secondly the pitches they play on need to be true. I don't think I have seen a score over 350 in the butsa cup yet.
The issue of pay needs to be addressed, who made all the money of the WI success in the 80s and where has the money gone. It's a long road back, but I did hear Des Haynes say there are a few youngsters coming through so there is hope!!
Dayle Johnson, UK

The only way out for Caribbean cricket is to break up the West Indies into national teams (Jamaica, Guyana etc.). Only then would the teams work as cohesive units. This would also create greater interest in cricket in the various nation states.
Shaheen Cader, Sri Lanka

The decline of West Indian cricket to me is akin to imprisonment, I am at a complete loss as to how the greatest cricketing nation in the last century has become almost the worst within a decade.
The pleasure of watching great fast bowlers and the 'master blaster' the king of batsmen will stay with me forever. They say nothing stays the same forever, well let's hope the reggae boys will be back soon to whip some kangaroos.
Krishan Canagasabey, UK

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See also:

25 Feb 00 |  Cricket
Lara quits Windies captaincy
10 May 99 |  West Indies
What next for Windies cricket?
17 Feb 98 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Decline Of Cricket In The Caribbean
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