West Indies cricket is dear to the hearts of the people of the West Indies. In fact, there is nothing to the people of the West Indies like cricket. To many a West Indian, it is the one thing, even more than the University of the West Indies, that binds, that brings the people together.
Apart from the president of the West Indies Cricket Board and the chairman of the selection committee, the most important person, off the field, in West Indies cricket is the coach. Recently, the board appointed a new coach and, instead of applause, instead of a feeling of hope, there have been boos and jeers and a feeling of despair coming from a number of people in the fraternity – because the new coach is not a West Indian.
Like Bennett King and David Moore immediately before him, John Dyson, an Australian, is a foreigner, a white foreigner at that, and many former players, a vast number of fans, are against it and justifiably so. According to the players and the fans, the West Indies is not so inexperienced at cricket that they need help.
The West Indies has a long and rich history in the game, having produced a number of the world’s greatest players. The West Indies team was once the best in the world and for a long time at that. The West Indies has produced two of the greatest captains the game has seen. In producing a former chairman of the ICC, they also produced administrators as good as any. The West Indies has also produced some of the world’s outstanding professionals in other and various fields of endeavour. After playing the game at the highest level for 79 years, after being the best in the world, the West Indies must be able to find someone good enough to coach a cricket team.
According to the former players and the fans who are against the employment of a foreign coach, it is a clear indication that, despite the achievements of the West Indian people, the board has no respect for the West Indian people – neither for the people it represents nor for its own people. What makes the selection of a foreign coach so unpalatable is that he is not, for example, a teacher or a doctor who is going to save lives. The coach is simply a man who teaches people how to bat, how to bowl, and how to field; and if a region that has produced, on its own, great batsmen, from George Headley to Brian Lara; great bowlers, from Learie Constantine to Curtley Ambrose, cannot find someone from home to do so again, then something is wrong, really wrong, with its people.
And it makes it worse that so many years after the abolition of slavery, so many years after the independence of so many territories in the region, the political champions who fought the good fight must now be turning in their graves at this insult to their memory.