Can 20/20 tournament restore passion? I doubt it

Allen Stanford must be applauded for injecting over US$100 million into regional cricket over the next three years into in the hope of restoring the West Indies glory years of the Seventies and Eighties. Highly commendable for a Texan billionaire who probably didn’t know a googly from a yorker when he arrived in Antigua 25 years ago.

When the Cayman team competes in the newly formed pro league from 1 November they will be on generous salaries and have all the resources needed to develop into world class players. No detail or expense has been overlooked. Their contracts will even stipulate designer sunglasses as essential equipment.

When I met West Indies legend Reverend Wes Hall at a press conference on Monday I felt that a typical West Indies squad player is as talented as any of his international peers but when it comes to application he doesn’t have it. Being in the comfort zone financially is partly the cause of it. Rev Hall refutes the notion that they are too highly paid compared to other international players.

I feel, many West Indies players earn such huge amounts, so quickly, that they lose the motivation to win. That was exemplified in their defeat to England in the World Cup this year in Jamaica. Extra training? Watching DVDs of where they went wrong and trying collectively to work out how to improve? A natural reaction would be to stay low-key having let yourselves and local fans down in losing tamely to arch rivals. Instead, after the match a number of West Indies players were seen at the popular bar The Mound drinking as if they didn’t have a care in the world. It caused uproar. Where was the passion?

West Indies supporters expected at least some contrition and collective responsibility. This was another sorry episode in a long list of displays of irresponsible behaviour. Whether it’s true or not, they just don’t seem to care if they win or lose any more. With nuff bling, land, cars and houses to show off after only a couple of years in the side, they soon lose the motivation to work their hardest. It’s strange because no other cricket nation is afflicted this way. Australian, England and South African players are far wealthier yet they are always striving to improve and win at all costs. Thankfully, vast fortunes do not spoil the competitive spirit in all. Look at Tiger Woods, probably the richest sportsman around. And Roger Federer, Asafa Powell, David Beckham and Ricky Ponting. All rich beyond belief, but the money is secondary to excelling in what they do.

Rev Hall claimed that at Under-15 and 19 level we’re as good as any in the world but because of our lack of work ethic we fail at senior level. When he was terrorising batsmen in the Sixties, West Indies players had few resources and were poorly paid, but they had immense pride and will to win. That attitude endured in subsequent generations which led to a winning attitude. Yes, we’ve been left behind partly because of lack of talent, but where is the pride and desire to succeed? Hopefully, Stanford’s 20/20 tournament will help them secure their financial futures, I certainly don’t begrudge them that. But will it restore their will to win when it really matters in Test matches and major One-Day international tournaments? I doubt it.

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