After enduring years of struggles, the West Indies cricket team is now focused on rebuilding and finding joy once again.
The typical fan of West Indies cricket is often disillusioned and weary, having endured disappointment and frustration. According to former West Indies player Daren Ganga, these fans are now seeking something that will bring them joy and satisfaction in terms of cricket. While there is still a sense of pride and support for the team, their expectations have been lowered. As a result, any victory is greatly celebrated due to its rarity.
If fans of England are experiencing emotional distress over their team’s recent struggles in white-ball matches, they should consider the struggles of their upcoming opponents, as the past few years have been extremely difficult for West Indies.
In the 2019 World Cup, they placed ninth out of ten teams. They had a poor performance at the 2021 T20 World Cup and an even worse one in 2022. They were unable to qualify for this year’s 50-over version. Out of the 14 Test series since England’s tour in 2019, they have only won four. These wins were against the two lowest-ranked teams according to the ICC rankings – Bangladesh (twice) and Zimbabwe. They also beat England on their previous visit in 2022.
While there are indications of improvement, there is also ongoing dissatisfaction. Despite efforts by Cricket West Indies to mend connections with veteran players, some relationships are still tense. The central contracts offered are not very generous, causing some players to become disengaged. This was evident last year when Sunil Narine was excluded from the World Cup team. Lead selector Desmond Haynes stated that it seemed as though Narine had lost interest. “Gone are the times when we played for passion. Passion doesn’t put food on the table,” remarked Darren Sammy, who is currently the coach for white-ball matches.
In the previous month, Darren Bravo led Trinidad & Tobago to win the Super50 Cup, a 50-over tournament in the West Indies. He was also the highest scorer in the competition. However, he was not included in the squad for the upcoming one-day international series against England, causing his brother Dwayne, a former West Indies captain, to express his anger on Instagram. Dwayne stated that he usually avoids these discussions, but the mistreatment, disrespect, and dishonesty towards players has become too much to ignore. He questioned when this behavior will finally come to an end. The post received nearly 100,000 likes, including from several current and former international players.
Darren Bravo, aged 34, is facing some inconsistency in the selection process. Kjorn Ottley, also 34 and with only two ODIs under his belt, is included in the squad, but Bravo is not. This decision is a result of the team’s strategy to focus on younger players. According to Ganga, the white-ball team is currently going through a transitional phase. He clarifies that this does not mean older players are being discarded, rather, the team is giving more opportunities to those who have had limited chances. Alick Athanaze, who was the top run-scorer at the Under-19 World Cup in 2018, has now made it into the senior Test and ODI teams this year and represents the new generation of players being given a chance.
In 2020, a separate examination of CWI’s financial status revealed a significant deficit. Managing the sport across various islands presents distinctive obstacles, such as transporting players between matches and accommodating them in the region’s notably costly hotels, not only for international events but also for domestic tournaments.
Since then, there has been some improvement in the financial situation, and the upcoming T20 World Cup in the summer of 2022, which will be co-hosted by West Indies and the USA, is expected to bring even more benefits. It is noteworthy that India, with their large fan base and potential for lucrative broadcast agreements, and England, with their numerous traveling supporters, have both visited the region in 2022 and 2023, and the latter will come back in November of next year.
Johnny Grave, CEO of CWI and former member of Surrey and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, explains that the ECB’s main source of support is from their host broadcaster, Sky Sports. Our financial stability largely depends on tours from England and India, in addition to ICC distributions. With both tours occurring last year and again this year, we have been able to significantly improve our financial situation. The organization has faced challenges with financial struggles, but after two successful years, we have managed to minimize our debts and are anticipating a successful year with the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The Coolidge Ground, a 20-acre property near Antigua’s international airport, is now owned by CWI. In the past year, they have set up an academy and training center on the site, providing organized opportunities for players to progress into List A and first-class competitions. This year, they also launched a women’s academy. The Caribbean Premier League, a Twenty20 franchise tournament now owned by Indian teams, has been a continuous success. Ganga explains that it serves as a vital link connecting West Indies T20 talent to the international team.
The upcoming World Cup presents a dual opportunity for the board to increase their financial resources and showcase the team’s rejuvenation. According to Grave, it is a chance to prove that the Caribbean remains the premier destination for watching and playing cricket, as well as the most enjoyable. Fans can relish in the warm welcome and distinctive stadium atmosphere, with thrilling and captivating cricket matches. The focus is on restoring the team’s image and giving loyal fans something to celebrate and support. In recent years, the team has achieved success in T20 cricket in their home conditions, and they are determined to emerge victorious in the upcoming tournament.