“World cricket needs a strong West Indies team.” Perhaps the number of times one’s heard the above is equal to the number of times you had water all of last year. Can you point your finger to a number? Come up with a figure? From counting the number of teams destroyed by the great West Indies teams of the past to being left disappointed a countless number of times given the declining standards of cricket in the Caribbean, time’s actually come to do something about it.
But just how do you produce electricity in the room without knowing the right switch?
Unless one were to opt for the right methods and practices that could do more than revive the sport the Caribbean can’t be imagined without, how can any change be expected?
To bring forth a turnaround in one of the most widely known and vastly loved cricket teams in the game, the system needs to be put through an overhaul.
The right problems need to be addressed. The correct decisions need to be made.
Frankly, anyone who feels talent in the West Indies is the problem would be siding with the most uninformed statement there can ever be. It’s like living under a rock.
We know the Gayles and Pollards and we have seen the Laras and Sobers’.
Today whether you look at Stafanie Taylor, Shai Hope, Shabika Gajnabi or the likes of Kirstan Kallicharan, Rahkeem Cornwall, Quiana Joseph or Kimani Melius, you’ll find there’s plenty of match-winning and redoubtable talent in the Caribbean.
Precisely in here lays the great opportunity.
It’s not the dearth of talent; but those of resources in the Caribbean that can shape it, convert prospects into bloomers, and transform the narrative about Caribbean Cricket having a dash of flair into making great players.
And examining this very poignant space, a lair of opportunity for the West Indies Cricket, Vernon A Springer and Cal Blankendal deep dived into an insightful discussion with the person who perhaps has all the answers as also the way forward: Mr. Johnny Grave, CEO, West Indies Cricket.
In marking the maiden episode of what’ll be a series of moving, tell-all, insightful tales about the game’s newsmakers and emerging stars from the Caribbean (and beyond), Vernon A. Springer and Cal Blankendal joined forces to hit a fantastic On Drive along with the key cricket figure in the Caribbean, Mr. Johnny Grave.
A discussion that unearthed the ambitions to revive Cricket in the Caribbean, note the key challenges and find directions thereof, along with the prospects and what to expect from the West Indies cricket in the months ahead, On Drive’s 1st -ever episode couldn’t have been a more engaging one.
Here are the key highlights of what you, the fan and pure lover of Caribbean Cricket would love to note basis Mr. Springer and Mr. Blankendal’s conversation with an eminent figure connected directly with West Indian Cricket:
- Mr. Johnny Grave, moved by the challenge of recalibrating the force that’s West Indies cricket, took up the role of steering it in the direction, and resultantly, moved from England to the Caribbean.
- The key aim here, as per Mr. Johnny Grave is to modernize and professionalize the game in the Caribbean
- With nuanced leaders already at the helm of the affairs, such as Jimmy Adams, with whom Mr. Grave enjoys a great bond and camaraderie, shall help make an interesting challenge of transforming West Indies cricket into an actual result-oriented process.
- One of the things that must be done, according to Mr. Johnny Grave is to find domestic broadcasters for greater interest and participation in West Indian cricket, something the UK has long had but the culture of which is yet to be experienced in the Caribbean.
- There are six territorial boards in the West Indies cricket, who are shareholder members, governed by a board of directors (Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, Barbados)
- One of the exciting series to note from a Caribbean perspective is the forthcoming Under-19 World cup, which will be hosted in the Caribbean, the preparations for which are already underway. The WICB is already in talks to host a tri-series featuring India and South Africa involving the West Indies, which should serve great practice for the mega event ahead.
- The ICC inspection team, for the purpose of the forthcoming event, is already here in the Caribbean to take cognizance of the preparations
- There’s a lot of cricket coming up in the forthcoming days, which includes a Test series in Sri Lanka immediately after the Men’s T20 world cup (2 Tests), followed by the men from the Caribbean traveling to Pakistan for 3 T20Is and as many ODIs, all of which will be big games as they’ll have a direct impact on the qualification for the 2023 ODI world cup.
- Come the new year, i.e., 2022, and Cricket Ireland will be in the West Indies for a series, which will be followed by England’s T20I side visiting the Caribbean (end-Jan, ’22) and later, the first-ever Richards Botham trophy to be held in the West Indies (March onwards).
- It’s interesting to note how West Indies, who thanks to their decision to tour England in 2020 (despite braving the Pandemic), brought life back into cricket. Thanks to excellent organizational skills and well chalked out plans in England, with several grounds having in-built hotels and other staying facilities were able to create a tight and secure bio-bubble. Can the West Indies too, have such facilities back home?
- There are several success stories, contended Mr. Johnny Grave, in both men’s and women’s cricket that shall drive the interest in Cricket in the Caribbean. What’ll be beneficial further would be ICC’s greater involvement, as already assured by the revered body itself entrusted with the task of growing the game in different regions.
- There’s greater emphasis now than before on coaching development programs in the Caribbean, which is among the key steps forward in growing the game in the region.
- The West Indies Cricket has made massive strides forward in improving its ties not just with international stakeholders in the sport, but with leagues like the CPL that push the game forwards, along with franchise owners.
- Another significant step to promote Cricket is to make sustained efforts toward communicating – and forging ties with – the private sector in the Caribbean, for increased sponsorships for that’s a big ground needed to be covered.
- There are many new areas to be involved with the West Indies cricket, such as operations, media crew, TV crew, medical.
- Since Cricket West Indies don’t own any venues, it’s important to partner with the government of different island nations to own the venues.
- There’s greater investment than before in pitches across the Caribbean, the turfs that hos fixtures that eventually pave the way for the sport’s development.
- In the past half a decade period, there’s been significant improvement in the ICC ratings offered to pitches in the Caribbean.
- Mr. Johnny Grave also highlighted a pertinent development that the focus is to take the game to the last mile of the town across the West Indies islands. For in greater exposure rests the scope to further build the game.
Catch the full episode of On Drive here: