The West Indies have fielded an understrength team in all formats of the game, except T20 Internationals in the past few years. The situation is progressively getting worse, and in their most recent series against New Zealand, they were even unable to field a full strength, T20 team.
This dire situation is the result of several factors including the inability of Cricket West Indies to negotiate and adequately manage different personalities, the rise of T20 Leagues across the globe and players making themselves unavailable for personal reasons.
I will examine some of the instances of players been unavailable due to personal reasons and highlight possible reasons for this occurrence.
On the recently concluded Tour of New Zealand, the experienced and quality trio of Kieran Pollard, Sunil Narine, and Evin Lewis pulled out of the T20 squad at the last minute, leaving the team management with very little time to find suitable replacements.
This has happened on prior occasions with Sunil Narine, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle among others.
One can argue that these players are not committed to the cause of West Indies Cricket and just want to play the game for the regional side when it suits them.
The last-minute nature of the recent pull-outs gives credibility to this argument and the fact that the offending players never pull out of any of their T20 Franchise teams also raises the issue of their commitment to West Indies Cricket.
These players also seem more energetic and pumped when playing for their T20 Franchises than when playing for the region and have accumulated amazing statistics in these competitions which speaks to their natural abilities.
The Impact of West Indian Players in the T20 games has been so significant that West Indians Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo are the highest run scorers and wicket takers respectively in the history of T20 cricket and Kieran Pollard is one of the top all-rounders.
These players were an integral part of the West Indian teams that won two T20 World cups, but their level of enthusiasm and commitment to West Indies Cricket seemed to have waned drastically since the last T20 World Cup victory, but why?
One of the reasons for the lack of interest by the players from my point of view is the actions and inflexibility of Cricket West Indies and especially President Dave Cameron.
His management style does not allow for negotiation and compromise, and he has also publicly disrespected players on more than one occasions. His tone and behavior have resulted in many public outbursts from players, most notably from former captain Darren Sammy while speaking after the West Indies team won the T20 World Cup in 2016.
The posture of the Cricket West Indies President has caused irreparable damage to the trust levels, and communication between players and management and is a contributing factor to the seeming lack of commitment of players to the cause of West Indies Cricket and players pulling themselves from tours for personal reasons. It is said that if people do not believe that they are valued, they do not give of their best, this I’m afraid is the main issue afflicting West Indian Cricket currently.
To move forward with the game in the region, Cricket West Indies must take a more conciliatory approach to negotiations with players and be more respectful and tactful when handling delicate issues such as player compensation and team selection.
Players, on the other hand, must be mindful that priority should be given to playing for the West Indies and ample notice should be given if they are not available for a particular tour.
If this approach is taken by player and Management, we will see a full-strength West Indian Cricket team in the Park on more occasions than not.