IPL poses threat to West Indies cricket

Gonsalves sharing a light moment with lecture guests.

Find a way to pay Chris Gayle and company more money and work out a special arrangement with the international cricketing world.

Failing this West Indies cricket faces destruction from the “money and power” of the Indian Premier League and its 20/20 cricket contemporaries.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves issued that warning last as he delivered the 17th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture.

The leader said Gayle and other regional cricketers trying to make the most of their talents were not different from a number of cricketing legends who had signed on to play senior roles with the Stanford 20/20 tournament.

“The issue which has been raised is a vital one about the individual and the nation, and what we have to do is to move away from the individual as an individual to build a social individual in connection with the community and the nation. But to do this we have to provide as a region, albeit that we are the most impoverished of the major test playing nations, we have to be able to find support for our test cricketers.”

“If we don’t do that we are going to have this problem all the time with the freelance cricketers going to the IPL, and the West Indies Cricket Board has to work out with other boards a modus vivendi with the IPL,” he said.

“What we have to do is to look at the objective situation, circumstances where we are with the power of the money from IPL and to see the challenges that that brings towards our cricket and to individual professionals who have a very short lifespan; we must understand this.

“I assert that I do not consider any West Indian Test player who participates in the IPL as being in any shape or form less patriotic, less nationalist or more mercenary than his fellow professionals in Australia, England, New Zealand, Pakistan or anywhere else. I do not include India in this since the BCCI fathered and mothered the IPL. So that none of the Indian Test players is any danger of being orphans in their national land.”

Speaking before a full house at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination, Gonsalves also made it clear, however, that he would not condone Gayle or anyone else picking and choosing how they would represent the West Indies team.

“The players must understand that the West Indian people will get very impatient with them if they try to have one foot in and one foot out. That is why Gayle correctly referred in his letter to the board that he did not intend to cherry pick which tours to play and which not to play. The moment will come as to whether in fact he is serious about not cherry picking, and I believe that he will not cherry pick — I will be disappointed if he does,” he said.

But equally, Gonsalves said, people in and out of the cricket hierarchy could not trumpet the free market ideology, but get upset when young people like the same cricketers “go for the quick buck”.

“The guy will say ‘well how are you telling me this when there is global trading, there is free trade, why can’t I trade my skill freely too? And this is the problem which faces us as an impoverished region, relatively speaking and this is where the West Indies Cricket Board and the Caribbean Community we have to make sure that we can provide a system of rewards, which will not be like IPL, but sufficient to make the argument that we have to build a social individual and build a nexus with the community and the nation,” he said.

Gonsalves he said he believed Worrell, with his noted intelligence and judgement, would have been sympathetic to Gayle, but would have urged him to “make an expression of regret”, in addition to persuading the WICB to “put the matter behind them swiftly and to move forward in the interest of West Indies cricket and our civilisation”. (SC)

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