West Indies T20 win doesn't hide issues in the Caribbean and wider cricketing world

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The recent triumphs of the West Indies' men's, women's and under-19s sides will no doubt give hope that Caribbean cricket will finally be returning to what it once was after two decades of mediocrity and worse.

While any tournament victory is nothing to be sneered at, the governance of cricket in the country still suffers from a lack of competent personnel in management positions; individuals who aren't fit to make the right decisions when it comes to coping with changing landscape of modern cricket.

This isn't a problem reserved for just the West Indies Cricket Board either.


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Regardless of your opinion on the merits of Twenty20 cricket, it is undeniable that the shortest form of the game will be central in creating what the future of the sport looks like.

Franchise-based T20 tournaments are now all the rage, offering an easily consumable product for casual cricket spectators who have neither the time nor constitution for One-Day International or test cricket.

Many of these competitions are played at the same time as international fixtures yet a growing number of players (particularly West Indians) choose to reject their country's call in favour of a quick buck.

You can't deny any man the opportunity to earn a considerable living doing what he loves but when the money begins to take precedent over what had previously been considered the pinnacle of the game, the traditional integrity of cricket is inextricably threatened.

This free agency phenomenon is all well and good for players whose international career is over - Kevin Pietersen for example - but when West Indies can't put out a proper team for a test series against Australia (as was the case during their recent tour that clashed with the Big Bash), it totally devalues the five-day format.

The West Indian problem is exacerbated by the division of power within the ICC and their own internal politics but some blame can sure be attributed to the individual.

Chris Gayle's general attitude is one of a man who couldn't care less about his public perception, happily traveling the world irritating reporters with no concern if he ever returns to test match cricket while Marlon Samuels' post-match comments publicly criticising Ben Stokes were, at best, disrespectful and unprofessional.

The whole final of the T20 World Cup seemed to be more about Dwayne Bravo's god awful song and equally terrible accompanying dance, rather than winning a trophy for the folks back in the West Indies.

All too many sportspeople are coached to be mundane robots and in a way it is refreshing to see a team taking a different method in creating a public persona but they appear to be nothing more than a collection of individuals having a bit of fun on an international stage before going off to secure their next hefty paycheck in some other part of the globe.

The impact of T20 cricket on the traditional nature of the game can only be observed through anecdotal evidence but by taking away the best players from test cricket, the effect on the playing quality of the red-ball game is much more tangible.

The situation is nowhere near as simple as saying that one format has to die at the expense of the other, however.

T20 cricket is here to stay now, even offering smaller nations the ideal platform into competing with the world's best and so it's pointless for purists to ask for its complete eradication. Test cricket needs to adapt quickly.

Evidently floundering nations like the West Indies are unable to help themselves and so the ICC has to do something to attract Gayle et al back into their whites.

At just 34 years of age, Brendon McCullum has packed in all forms of international cricket and will no doubt trawl his services around various T20 competitions despite clearly still being good enough to play for New Zealand.

If international cricket had offered more to McCullum during his career would he still be playing for his country? Quite possibly.

Professional cricketing schedules are relentlessly demanding and it is sad that larger financial compensation may be required to keep players turning out for their country but that is the capitalist world we live in.

If you play for England, Australia, India or South Africa it is worthwhile playing across all formats at the moment but if the financial draw of domestic T20 tournaments continues to grow, who knows if Joe Root, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and other similarly multi-talented cricketers will go the way of free agency.

The pink ball, day-night test between Australia and New Zealand was a considerable step in the right direction but there is still so much that can be done.

A divisional system has been touted to give rewards that are more palpable than a series victory but for a team in shambles like the West Indies, much more thorough reform will be required.

Since beating India 2-1 in 2002, the West Indies have won only three test series and a total of 11 matches against the other seven traditional test playing nations (therefore excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe).

Their ODI stats aren't much more impressive: again since 2002 they have only won six ODI series versus the biggest cricketing countries. This is all when they often had their best side turning out in all versions of the sport and before the various crises with the board came to fruition.

Although they have struggled desperately in any series-based contests, as soon as it comes to a competition with an actual trophy to lift at the end, suddenly the West Indians turn up. Two Champions Trophy wins are testament to that but these tournament wins may still be misleading.

If they were truly producing players who can regularly compete with the world's best they would be winning far more series than they do.

As pointless as the ICC rankings are at rating teams most of the time, in qualifying for the next World Cup they will have some real world value. As it stands, their ninth place position will mean the Windies have to go to a qualifying tournament to ensure their place in England.

It's an unprecedented situation for them to be in but perhaps one that will end decades of complacency on the part of West Indian cricket when it comes to ODI and test cricket.

If West Indian players genuinely don't care about playing test cricket then perhaps the ICC should do some parenting and take it away from them.

Ireland are desperate for their shot in the 5-day game and should be given it when so many teams put little value on the format.

Ironically that lack of interest has stemmed from the ICC's own inaction in keeping up with the contemporary game. They have the power to do so much yet appear so disinterested in tackling the systemic issues of the sport they are charged to protect.

There are so many factors in play that it is difficult to make sense of what is the correct path but, in the current West Indian team, we are beginning to see evidence of what the sport and those who play it will turn into if no action is taken to wrestle control back from the rampaging beast that is T20 cricket.

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T20 World Cup
Chris Gayle
England cricket
West Indies cricket

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