“West Indies Cricket Captains Must Also Be Allowed Selection Votes and To Do Their Jobs Too!” by Colin Croft

4th October 2015

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

Captains of industry and sports must lead with great energy, guile and foresight, requisitioning useful instruments while planning results, also surrounding themselves with personnel who should positively effect that hoped-for successful future! Simple, really!

Why then, in present West Indies cricket, are none of our teams’ captains allowed votes in selecting players that they will lead, as was present in the past, while coaches do have that luxury?

Surely captains must, by gut feelings or evidence, as illustrated for WI’s Fidel Edwards or Pakistan’s Shoaib Aktar; captains’ picks by Brian Lara and Wasim Akram respectively; know whom they want in their teams.

To quote Pope Francis: “Power is a fleeting thing; here today, gone tomorrow. It is important to do ‘good’ with that power; to serve in the humblest of ways!”

The great irony here is that present chief WI selector Clive Lloyd, while leading an acclaimed cricket team, thankfully including yours truly, demanded that vote: “I am given this task of leading WI teams. Therefore I must have my vote as to whom I trust to be out there with me.

Ultimately, I am responsible for producing good performances from those players on the field.”

WI selectors do have their rightful place, especially tasked with scouting for potential newbies, then objectively colluding with captains and coaches to get special blends to represent well enough to win regularly. But selectors could never replace captains!

Trinidad & Tobago’s Michael ‘Joey’ Carew, WI selector when I first played in 1976/7, tried hard to convince me, with Trinbagonian-Guyanese connections, that it was he, Carew, who insisted that I should play, and not captain Lloyd nor another then selector, also Guyanese, Joe Solomon.

Lloyd did get his desired vote and definitely had final say as to whom he took into battle with him. So, again, why is it that present-day WI captains, depending on perspectives of pleasure or pain, not also have a final vote in team selections? Or are our captains also controlled by coaches?

Therefore, if his tenure as selector/chairman is indeed allowed to continue after that recent fracas, Lloyd must also strive to get that present anomaly re-amended too, for with this suspension of Coach Phil Simmons, those seams and chasms under WI cricket appear wider and deeper.

How can any modern sports team, with such devastating detours outside of actual play, think about any success? Seriously incongruous, this entire situation seems untenuous!

But neutrally speaking, Coach Simmons’ public outburst was also quite dangerous. Simply suggesting a 3-2 difference would have easily sufficed.

While I agree that he could vent frustrations and dashed hopes, the way it was done; by pointedly, exactly, highlighting that ‘only’ Lloyd and himself voted one way, while the other selectors, Eldine Baptiste, Courtney Walsh and Courtney Browne voted another way for that ODI team; could be construed as blatant incitement.

Realistically, it takes less than that for some imbibed imbecilic ‘personal supporter’ of one non-selectee, to target one of those dissenting selectors. Who knows what could happen next?

From factual experiences, anything is indeed possible. In T&T, WI players have called my home to abuse me for opining that they were not good enough, while I was mere inches away from being stabbed in Guyana for suggesting that Carl Hooper had not produced to his potential!

Anyway, while world leaders fought for recognition at United Nations and WI cricket was again cavorting in confusion, an enlighteningly beautiful event; a great example for WI cricket; also took place in New York City.

The International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, with over one hundred musicians, aged 18 to 26, from over seventy countries, some using indigenous musical instruments, performed in unflappable unison to produce really sensational sounds!

Mentored by luminary composers Poland’s Sevki Faruk Kanca and Ukraine’s Vlad DeBriansky, and conductors Slovakian Peter Briener and Venezuelan Jose Louis Gomez, YPHIL’s musical repertoire reminded of watching (Sir) Garfield Sobers, Seymour Nurse, Alvin Kallicharran, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Lara and Hooper all batting together at their slickest best.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would have been impressed by YPHIL, such were the honey-like harmonies. Those one hundred plus played as just one single orchestrated unit. Yet, WI cannot even put eleven together with enough cohesion to learn and play without insularity or, per Coach Simmons, whose tenure could be numbered seven days or less; “Outside influences.”

Maybe those musical maestros could come to the Caribbean to lend us a hand, practically and metaphorically, in molding and conducting our cricket’s visage, which seems perplexingly opaque. Will we ever evolve from this “crabs in a barrel” morass?

Unfortunately, simultaneously, WI’s exclusion from Champions Trophy 2017 was also confirmed; ranked only No. 9 for an eight-team tournament. Once mighty WI won that tournament only eleven years ago, 2004, courtesy of now selector Browne and Ian Bradshaw, one of only two relatively recent hearty, healthy laughs; ICC 2010 World T-20 too; that WI supporters enjoyed!

So, like WI’s tumultuous first South African tour, 1998, which nearly tanked before it got started, so too has WI tour to Sri Lanka 2015 tapped into explosive fissures. Jason Holder must be wondering what will transpire next! Enjoy!

C.E.H. Croft

Colin Everton Hunte Croft was one of the fast-bowling giants of West Indies’ glorious period of world dominance. In his international career between 1977-82 he was part of a devastating 4-man pace attack alongside fellow greats Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner (with a young Malcolm Marshall as first reserve). In 27 Tests he took 125 wickets at 23.30 with a best of 8-29 v Pakistan in only his 2nd Test Match. He was a member of West Indies’ World Cup winning XI of 1979, and took the match-clinching wicket, spreading the stumps of England’s Mike Hendrick, to finish with figures of 3-42. In his post playing days ‘Crofty’ has been a teacher, commercial pilot, coach and a shrewd and honest cricket analyst, writer, broadcaster, commentator and summariser – gaining respect internationally for his insightful and forthright opinions and, not least, his splendid wit. Roland Butcher’s Hook is delighted to have Colin as a contributor.

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