Since the last few years, there has been a massive exodus of players from the West Indies opting to don the colors of domestic T20 sides, over the Caribbean side. The emergence of cash-rich leagues such as the IPL and the BBL has meant that some high profile Caribbean cricketers like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine have deserted their international side and rather opted for T20 franchises. The main reason behind that though can also be said to be the poor managing of human resources by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Sir Garfield Sobers, undoubtedly the greatest all-rounder the game has ever seen, recently said that T20 leagues across the globe have destroyed West Indies cricket. “My whole obligation was to West Indies cricket,” Sobers said. “As I’ve always said, I have never made a run for me. I have always played for the West Indies team and it was such a pleasure and joy to be able to do what I did. You know, records meant nothing. The team was important.”
“I don’t think we have that kind of person today. We might have them in different countries – we might have them in Sri Lanka, in England, in Australia – but I don’t think we have that kind of person in West Indies cricket anymore, who is quite prepared to play and give it everything for their country. And that hurts. Until we can get people who are willing to play for West Indies in the right way, I think we’re going to be struggling for a long time. Other countries are going to surpass us, ” Sobers said.
“I think T20 competitions are certainly destroying West Indies cricket, I’ll tell you that,” Sobers said. “When you look at the point of view of the players from the West Indies, in particular, they come from very humble backgrounds. So if the opportunity is there for them to make money so they can help their families, then you can’t really blame them. But I think they should be able to use discretion and understand the difference. I don’t think Twenty20 will run away. I’ve always believed that Test cricket was the utmost, and if you were a cricketer, that was the sort of cricket that you’d want to play,” the legend said.
“In the 1980s and 90s, West Indies were champions for about 15 years. I don’t think you’ll see that again in the history of cricket. At present, we have lost a lot of that because I suppose we got too lazy. T20 cricket seems to be affecting West Indies more than any other nation. We’re all rebuilding. But some seem to be doing it faster than others. All the other countries seem to be doing it faster than the West Indies.”
“But I think we’ve got a lot of good players in the making, and I think they just need a bit more time. If they are handled in the right way and are given the right ingredients, I am quite sure that West Indies cricket will blossom again,” Sobers concluded.