Beckles pens story of how West Indies cricket 'lost its soul'
The first full-length analysis of the status of West Indies cricket and the factors which have caused the regional team to fall close to the bottom of the international Test rankings, is the subject of a new book written by Sir Hilary Beckles and published by Ian Randle Publishers.
Entitled Cricket Without A Cause: Fall and Rise of the Mighty West Indian Test Cricketers, the book was launched at King's College, London University, on September 28, on the eve of the final limited overs match between England and the West Indies.
Sir Hilary told an attentive audience of diplomats, led by Barbados High Commissioner Rev Guy Hewitt, journalists and cricket enthusiasts, that he considered the book his most important work to date, as the crisis facing the West Indies cricket was one that was deeper than just cricket but was a reflection of the crisis facing Caribbean society. Therefore, although the book is about cricket, he urged readers not to approach it as a cricket book.
At the root of the crisis which has seen the team collapse 'from awesome to awful' is the fact the West Indies have been unable to field a Test team filled with its best players. The best are lured by the money to be earned from franchise cricket, thus putting 'cash before country'. The “green” of cash has displaced the “maroon” of the Test as the deciding colour. With the eruption of 'each cricketer for himself' as the ruling principle, Windies Test appears a selected outfit without a soul.
The book, said Beckles, does not set out to bash the administrators or the players or their representatives WIPA, or even the International Cricket Council; all in one way or another, over the past 20 years have contributed to today's state of affairs.
Beckles served as a member of the former West Indies Cricket Board during the Julien Hunte administration. It was during this period that the Sagicor high performance centre (HPC) was set up at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados with Beckles as its chairman. The HPC has since been closed down by the administration led by Whycliffe Cameron.
However, the analysis is not one of all gloom and doom. As the subtitle of the book suggests, it is possible to imagine the return of the West Indies to the peak of Test performance. Evidence of that return journey is already discernable in the performance of the team during the recently concluded Test series and, as one member of the audience keenly observed, no fewer than nine members of the current West Indies squad, including captains Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite, are all graduates of the HPC. This new generation of cricketers share one thing in common — a determination to restore that which had been lost, commented Beckles.
The launch was organised by the University of The West Indies Foundation (UK) with sponsorship from Jamaica National (JN) Bank. The book will have its Barbados launch in mid-October. It will also be launched in Jamaica on a date to be determined.