Wednesday 9th March, 2005

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Take heed of Lara’s words

West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara is right, of course.

The current impasse in West Indies cricket is not simply a regional cricket problem but involves governments, economics and judgments of the world at large.

That is why it remains disappointing that Monday’s meeting in Grenada of the five parties directly involved in the impasse—the West Indies Cricket Board, Digicel, the players themselves, the West Indies Players Association, and Cable and Wireless—could not find a resolution that would allow for a healing of the hurt that is threatening to paralyse the game in the region.

In a statement prepared two days before WICB president Teddy Griffith announced that Lara and six other players who had personal contracts with Cable and Wireless would not be considered for selection for the upcoming series against South Africa, Lara stated that he was worried by the cloud hanging over West Indies cricket and called for a philosophy of give and take.

“The time has long passed when any one party can say I am only taking and not giving. We all have to admit that in everyday life we do and say things that we would do and say differently if we had another chance. I suggest a lot of sincere apologies—private apologies—would pave the way forward and once an apology is offered, let the issue be dropped once and for all,” the West Indies master batsman wrote.

Lara is in a much better position than most to understand the complexities attached to the current situation and no doubt his comments would have been made against this background.

As he himself pointed out, he is employed by the WICB; is sponsored as a WI team member by Digicel; has a personal endorsement from Cable and Wireless; and is also a member of WIPA.

Some may argue that his sentiments come against the background that he has quite a bit to lose if he is not selected for the West Indies team in the future.

On the other hand, his call for dialogue and burying of the hatchet must be seen as a platform from which may come the resolution that fans throughout the region were hoping for on Monday.

Information out of the meeting has, at best, been patchy. Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, chairman of Caricom’s sub-committee on cricket, stated that considerable progress had been made in understanding the exact positions of the respective parties. He promised a solution by tomorrow after discussions with other prime ministers in the region.

Whatever the outcome of those discussions, it must be understood that in the current climate, West Indies cricket is swirling in the eye of a hurricane.

In a few weeks time, the cricketers are due to take the field against South Africa.

Not only must the West Indies have its best team available to play against the visitors, but there must be a new atmosphere in the game that will allow the West Indies to move away from confrontation and bacchanal into a calmness that will allow the team to climb out of the despair in which West Indies cricket finds itself today.

Some would say that from the present position of West Indies cricket, both on and off the field, things can only improve.

As Lara has stated, time is not on our side. But the dialogue, goodwill, sensitivity and generosity of mind which he calls for are ideal balms to soothe the wounds.

Is anyone listening to him?



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