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Jamiacan debacle forseen

By Michael Parkinson

2 February 1998

WHEN I saw the debacle in Jamaica, my mind went back to a conversation I had with a friend who had been on the last Australian tour of the West Indies. He was, in fact, a member of the official party and had a clear view of the situation. He was worried at what he predicted was an impending crisis in West Indies cricket.

The internal strife between the different countries he took for granted. He was not prepared for the real poverty of West Indies cricket in terms of a lack of wherewithal to encourage the game at its roots through to a feeling that, at top level, it had not been possible to keep pace with the rest of the world. When we consider the plans for cricket's future with multi-million dollar television deals, modern stadiums, world cups, glamorous superstars and then consider what happened in Jamaica, which was the equivalent of a municipal cricket pitch being prepared by a council employee, we begin to appreciate my friend's concern.

It is self-evident that any plan for the years ahead must include the West Indies preferably producing teams capable of redefining the standards of the future, as they have done in the past. This will only happen if the wealthier and better-organised countries provide money and expertise.

It is to be hoped that the West Indian Cricket Board don't get on their high horse. What happened in Jamaica last week was embarrassing but it will only be changed and forgotten if the people responsible learn from their mistakes and seek help within the international brotherhood of the game.

Similarly, the stronger nations must not be tardy in volunteering support. They must realise that, more than any other game, cricket is only as strong as its weakest link. It survives because of revenue from international competition. If the West Indian Board need any advice on this matter, they should speak with Lord MacLaurin. He would soon put them right about the problems of dragging the game into the 21st century.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 18:57