CWI Review Panel’s analysis of the ‘black box’:
Following their defeat at the hands of the eventual champions of the T20 World cup 2021, Australia, the West Indies team ended up at No. 10 in the T20I rankings. This saw the Windies team playing the first round of the next T20 World cup in 2022. To everyone’s surprise, or I better write, to everyone’s disappointment, the multi-nation cricket team exited the World cup in the first round after defeats against Scotland first and then Ireland.
As expected, a lot of criticism followed this upsetting exit. Once the fire of rage doused, the West Indian governing body, Cricket West Indies, decided to commission a three member review panel to “identify, investigate, and analyze the factors contributing to the poor performance”.
The panel consisted of former Trinidadian legendary batter, Brian Lara, a coach with myriads of experience Mickey Arthur and senior judge Patrick Thompson. The committee reported its findings to the CWI, which released them on Thursday. The report mentions several causes that led to the unfortunate and untimely ousting of a team like the Windies from an event like the T20 World cup. The panel noted that there is ‘significant distrust between the players and administration’ which is the main cause of the abysmal condition of the team as of now.
The review further states that the failure of both players and CWI to arrive at some ‘middle ground’ may result in West Indies Cricket’s demise.
“In this Group’s view, there is significant distrust between the players and administration and this distrust is inimical to ensuring that the best 11 players turn out for the WI Team in every match. No Objection Certificates cannot be weaponized against the players, but it is essential that some middle ground is arrived at. Otherwise, West Indies Cricket may cease to exist as an entity. This Group does not indulge in doomsday predictions but no entity, sporting or otherwise, has a viable future if its talent is not harnessed and effectively managed.”
Another cause of this failure, as reported by the troika of experts commissioned by the CWI, was the difference in conditions in the West Indies, where the team played the CPL before coming for the World Cup, and the conditions down under. Thus, the team entered the tournament unprepared.
“The squad had little experience of topflight cricket in Australia. They were underprepared In view of the short time between the end of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the start of the World Cup. CPL conditions bore little meaningful similarity to the condition in Australia. The World Cup matches were played in wet and cold Hobart, Tasmania, which had more in common with the north of England than West Indian conditions. In the absence of a camp in Australia, the CPL had little meaningful impact on the Team’s Preparation.”
The panel also provided the CWI with recommendations in three tiers according to the duration; Short-term recommendations, Medium-term recommendations and Long-Term recommendations.
As a first step the review board suggested the CWI to identify a core squad of 30-35 members and convene a three-day in person meeting with the squad to ‘address the grouses’ in presence of mediators. Another suggestion urged the governing body to arrive at a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the players with respect to their availability as the players will be well aware of their availability given the fact that Future Tour Programme 2023-2027 is set and major leagues across the globe take place in, more or less, the same time window each year.
“The 2023 cricket calendar is settled. Barring any unforeseen pandemic or global emergency, the 2024 cricket calendar is also largely settled since the major cricketing tournaments (IPL/Hundred/Big Bash) are held at or around the sametime every year. Therefore, except for injury, players ought to be well aware of their potential availability for the next 18 months. CWI and the players have to arrive at a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on player availability that recognizes the need to build a unified squad for the 2024 World Cup. Neither side will get exactly what they want but it is hoped that they can arrive at an agreement that is mutually beneficial to all stakeholders.”
Lastly, the 3-member board for review advised the CWI to have ‘targeted discussions’ with the players to play more red ball cricket which provides ‘vital opportunities, for primarily white ball players to develop their overall cricketing skills.’
Other suggestions were targeted for medium and long terms which included several guidelines about variety of things that can bring positive changes to the team before the next T20 World cup, which the review panel deems as the event that presents ‘CWI with a golden opportunity to hit the reset button and implement a strategic plan aimed at reviving the fortunes of the WI T20 cricket Team.’
Being the hosts of the next World cup with the USA, the Windies have automatically qualified for the mega-event. The implementations on these guidelines may stop the West Indian cricket from dying a slow, miserable death and even, in the best possible scenario, bring the Windies back to their glorious best. The glorious best which, in the first place, gave birth to the love of cricket in the Islands.