Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Thursday, April 03, 2003  

Tony Fraser in today's Guardian is up in arms over the decision to appoint Australian Bennett King as the new West Indies coach. (King hasn't officially been offered the job, but it seems to be merely a matter of time.) Fraser thinks the decision signals a reversion to the colonial era:

"Having determined the West Indian condition to be colonial, dependent, steeped in the belief, despite persuasive evidence to the contrary, that foreign, preferably white foreign, is superior to anything we have produced here in these islands, [WICB president Wes] Hall and his board felt comfortable to heap the final indignity on West Indian cricket and civilisation. That is how Bennett King’s appointment must be viewed.

"Fortunately, there is now to be an interval before the Australian is imposed. West Indians everywhere in the Diaspora must use the opportunity to escape that wretched condition of forever believing themselves, their creations and capability to be inferior.

"Not to force Hall and his board to reverse their decision would be to accept that after 75 years as a Test playing nation the West Indies remains a colonial dependency."

Now some would argue that we still are a colonial dependency, only the master nowadays is the US, not Britain. And yet others argue that things were better off under colonial rule, and that we've made a right hash of independence. Well those are two other matters entirely - and I really am not in the mood to explore them - but as to this Australian coach, I say congrats and good luck.

I don't doubt much of what Fraser says isn't true. Our capacity for self-contempt in the Caribbean is astounding. But let's be honest here: West Indies cricket has been ailing for quite some time. Only within the last year have we showed signs of turning that much talked about corner, but there's still a long way to go. If it is thought that King is the man best suited to head the daunting task ahead of us, why should it really matter that he's Australian, or white?

Fraser talks about the abundance of regional coaching talent. Well, I haven't seen it, and though it is quite possible that there are people here able to do the job, it doesn't seem as if they're willing. As for the invincibility of the West Indies in the 80s under Lloyds and Richards, it was the staggering, fortuituous abundance of talent during that time, more than anything else, that fed our domination of the cricket world.

Yes, as Brian Lara noted, the question of instilling character - or passion, as I said in my last cricket post - is important, but that is an intangible quality that has to be nurtured by us as a people. Hiring a foreign/white coach does not preclude that from happening. I hope the players recognise this, and don't bring a foolish "Massa day done" attitude to the situation.

Bennett King will undoubtedly give of his best; if our players give of theirs, it can only be to the benefit of West Indies cricket.

posted by Jonathan | 2:06 PM 0 comments


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