Cricket is a game played by millions, excelled at by the Indians, the English and the Australians, one in which the Proteas are fiery as are Pakistan but one in which the West Indies have lost their way.
Yet, only one thing can be said to anyone suggesting there’s a dearth of quality talent in the Caribbean; the picturesque islands are still producing handy talents as they did back in the day. If for anything, the larger concern, at least to the naked eye, is a lack of proper nurturing of that talent and its sustenance.
The West Indies have collectively lost on both fronts- the turf and what goes on off it- thanks to administrative issues, if not pure intent alone.
For had that not been the case, we’d have never seen a Daren Sammy take to the commentary mic at an age where he’s fit to play on the field. Had that not been the case, a Russell, Pollard, Narine, and now, Hetmyer and Lewis would not have harbored dreams of being franchise superstars appearing ever so scantly for national duties.
Luckily, Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer aren’t yet lost fully to overseas T20 leagues that have money but little or no relevance to national cricket where taking the country forward matters most.
There’s still time but an already super delayed process of returning to normality mustn’t be delayed any further.
The collective conscience of those in whose hands rests the power to take Windies game forwards will have to work in tandem; the coaching staffs, nutritionists, umpires, mentors, administrators, cricket board members and whatnot.
And in between all of this, we have concepts like the 6ixty, perhaps yet another endeavor to popularize the short form white-ball game. Presumably created to involve more youngsters and up-and-coming names in the sport, the 6ixty, they say, could be the game changer.
But while being circumspect about something that’s yet to take shape makes absolutely no sense, it’ll also be senseless to not run the idea through an original voice of the game. Someone who’s principled, honest, and unabashedly West Indian: Vernon Springer.
Caught At Point caught up with the heart and soul of the Leeward Islands Cricket unit and attempted to understand what really is the 6ixty and what lies at its core?
What do you make of the 6ixty?
The new initiative introduced by the Caribbean Premier League and the cricket board of the West Indies is surely exciting for the Caribbean. But having said that, my major concern is the development of the game. How are we bridging the gap at the primary school level for both boys and girls?
And if this level of competition can benefit the participants down the road, which can happen by laying down a clear pathway for their cricketing development, then it is all good and promising.
How is this new initiative going to impact the CPL?
It’s a new initiative in a new world. You also have to understand that the CPL will certainly have to up their stakes now in terms of the sponsorships and media rights.
Any league that is coming up today will realize that there are some changes that are being made whether it’s the Big Bash League or any other, in a bid to attract some superstars.
Inadvertently, therefore, the Caribbean Premier League will be put under enormous pressure with the Indian owners coming in to own some of the franchises within the CPL.
This can all go well for the organisation of the CPL, where they can now begin to prepare to get some major sponsors coming in.
All of that is important in order to take the Caribbean Premier League ahead, to a different level.
By and large, I think the next couple of years are going to be very interesting for the T20 cricket because if look in terms of the model of the Indian Premier League, for example, this is going to be a model like the English Premier League for Football, where players will, say move about the world to play T20s for six months or something like.
Whether that is a good thing, we don’t know yet! But, the other leagues will be able to create newer avenues for younger players to be able to move forwards.
Are these new, hitherto unseen before T20 leagues really innovative?
Anything that is done these days to promote the game is being done in a creative way. That’s whether we speak of The Hundred in England. Hence, the tournament being executed by the Caribbean is also going to compete for the same media dialogue.
The same economic dialogue! Everyone is going to come up with new innovations. I guess we just have to sit back and allow the process to work and see how it will work out.
It seems, the 6ixty, much like The Hundred, will bring in some money.
But the main question to me is what will the CPL’s legacy be when they leave the Caribbean. What would they have done to develop the game in the Caribbean, which is Cricket.
And I want one to see one invest at that level also; surely you can come up with all different sorts of competition around, but what I am saying is you have to leave a development path that belongs to you.
The CPL, undoubtedly, is popular, it’s been here for ten years. But you got to leave a pathway for young boys and girls you have introduced to the game.
Though I don’t get the impression that we are seeing that level of commitment. But that’s just my feeling.