Reflections on Cricket West Indies

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

At the beginning of 2019, Cricket West Indies (CWI) appointed an interim head coach, Richard Pybus, an Englishman with experience working with the West Indies team, to coordinate the senior men’s cricket team’s activities.

As underdogs, the West Indies team delivered a stellar performance in the 2019 series against England in the Caribbean. The West Indies team won the Test series (2-1), thus regaining the Sir Frank Worrell trophy, drew the ODI series (2-2) against the highest-ranking team in the world, and contributed to an exciting T20I series which provided ecstatic spectator excitement.

Richard Pybus and his squad received deserved praise for this performance, against the odds. Caribbean cricket enthusiasts were very happy with an apparent change in trend against a formidable opponent. The West Indies captain indicated that he was very pleased with the team spirit within the camp and my expectation was that we would keep this winning combination.

It so happened that the CWI elections for President and Vice President were constitutionally due in March 2019. There was a successful challenge to the incumbents by Ricky Skerritt and Dr Kishore Swallow, who campaigned with their own manifesto. There was a rush to implement major manifesto promises, including the immediate appointment of a qualified regional coach, apparently without paying attention to the captain’s stated content with the team morale after the successful England tour. After these changes were implemented, Bangladesh convincingly beat the West Indies in an ODI tri-nation series in Ireland, immediately prior to the World Cup.

The performance of the West Indies cricket team at the 2019 World Cup, after their first six matches, is one win, four losses and 1 no-decision. Nothing short of three wins by West Indies against India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and three losses by England in their remaining matches, may give West Indies a mathematical chance of being in the final four teams which would qualify for the semifinals. The achievement of this combination of results, given the performances to date, is extremely unlikely.

Much has been written in the press about this disappointing performance which followed the precipitous set of changes by the new CWI administration. In this column, in March and April 2019, in a series of “CWI: as a business” articles, we discussed topics such as “CWI: The future is bright”; “CWI: Board communication”;  and “CWI: Performance monitoring dashboards” which embodied the importance of strategic visioning among stakeholders and the implementation of a systematic management process before making rash decisions. Many others gave advice which was not heeded by the new CWI administration which now finds itself a target of criticism.

One may be fascinated by an elegant looking car, bus, train or airplane but elegance alone will not ensure that this mode of transportation will successfully take you to your destination. The management process in the form of a route plan, an engine and peripherals to power you there, excellent staff to undertake organizational tasks, leadership in the form of a trained driver or pilot, and a monitoring process to determine whether the timelines on route have been achieved, are necessary. Indeed, it may be argued that if the management assets are in place and well lubricated and maintained, the elegance may be attractive but not at all necessary.

Similarly, for Cricket West Indies, LIAT (1974) Limited or any other business entity, it is not how elegant the organization may look in terms of emotional attachment or glamour, it is the excellence with which the organization is managed that will determine its success.

Sometimes, it takes a painful disappointment to teach us a skill or to strengthen our faith. It is my hope that the setback we are experiencing can serve as a setup for a comeback.

Dr Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is basilgf57@gmail.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com and on www.facebook.com/basilgf.

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