21st August 2014
Patrolling the Boundary – a view from the outfield
“Evolution, or revolution?” That was the question I posed on this week’s ‘Mason & Guests’ show, as we surveyed the seismic shifts of the recent great upheavals of West Indian cricket.
I’ve taken a 6-month breather from the ‘Roland Butcher’s Hook’ blog, but the events in the Caribbean of the last fortnight or so have left me again gasping with disbelief. This week’s demise of Ottis Gibson is the latest in what has been a year or so of change since Dave Cameron deposed Julian Hunte as the WICB’s President. Since then, we’ve seen many a neck that had been supposed by pundits and fans to be ‘on the line’ become the next head on the chopping block.
Those that have been ‘chopped’ most publicly have been the former ruling triumvirate of the West Indies cricket team: Captain, Darren Sammy; Chairman, Clyde Butts; and Coach, Ottis Gibson. Seemingly manning the guillotine has been Cameron’s Robespierre and appointee as Head of Cricket, Richard Pybus.
The ‘Pybus Report’ has been the defining white paper for the future of West Indies cricket, its principles being the codex upon which the new order is to be built. It is the little red book (if I may mix my revolutionary metaphors) of the uprising.
Many regional writers and analysts, including Tony Cozier have warned against not implementing the proposals in full, and have supported the document. I agree. Nonetheless, we must remember that with any revolution blood will be spilt and it’s not a pretty sight, however surgical, sharp and clean the blades are, and efficient your methods of disposal. Public executions also bring in the crowds, but not the type that sit still and applaud politely. As more heads tumble, so the temperature rises and the blood lust increases. Witness this year’s unedifying uprising in English cricket after the team was flogged by Australia – the body count has been unpleasantly high, the scapegoats numerous, and yet the calls for another sacrifice have only recently abated.
In the Caribbean, just one Test series into his job, many are already baying for the blood of new Captain, Dinesh Ramdin. His apparently woeful leadership and tactics against New Zealand brought scything criticism, and calls of ‘off with his head!’ from the cards in the media pack. His petulant bat throwing during this weekend’s CPL final did little to silence calls for him to be immediately brought to the scaffold.
Likewise, the manner of yesterday’s win in the first ODI v Bangladesh didn’t enhance Dwayne Bravo’s position as the 50-over skipper. A win is a win, they say, but the perils of 22-4 were propelled into the pits of despair of 34-5 when he perished for 5 with a shoveled shot to deep backward square that was frankly reckless and irresponsible. What was needed then was a captain’s innings, not a futile gesture.
And yet up from the ashes grow the roses of success. The next man in provided exactly the Captain’s knock the team required. Kieron Pollard skippered Barbados Tridents to (Guyanese disputed) glory in the CPL, and he now led WI out of the cesspool his colleagues had provided as a ‘base’ for the innings, and upwards and onwards to victory.
Pollard’s 89 was a mature, classy knock that demonstrated not only his long-known talent but also his less-appreciated, but developing ability to build an innings. At a time when West Indies cricket has been recklessly demolishing the landscape, I back Pollard to emerge from the wreckage as the one, single figure of unity to hang their new public cricketing identity upon. The Emperor for the new Republic.
David Oram is the resident ‘statto’, and sometime presenter of ‘Mason & Guests’ – Voice of Barbados’ weekly cricket talk show, the leading cricket radio show in the West Indies – hosted by the Caribbean’s principal radio commentator, Andrew Mason.