Former President of the Nevis Cricket Association, Mr. Sterling Marshall sternly criticized my article “Where have all our cricketers gone?” back in October, 2004. He offered corrective and constructive criticism more than anything else whereas a member of his organization happily congratulated the same article that, in his opinion, was hitting the nail on the head.
Subsequent to that, numerous complaints against our present cricketers have surfaced. Some have been disciplined while others have served suspensions. Matches have been broken up, umpires have been verbally abused and threatened, and a whole range of shocking reports have been levied against our players in recent times.
I hope that I’m wrong in stating that such radical behaviour by our players while on tour prompted the premature departure from the scene of former national captain, Virgil Browne. If memory serves me right it did, and that’s quite sad.
Just last year the reports got even worse as the cricketing public on St. Croix were astonished by the attitude and behaviour of our players, both on and off the field of play. Captain and management were praised, however, for their roles played on that occasion.
Swipes have repeatedly been made at the NCA itself while management teams have also gotten their full share. I will not take the task of ridiculing Deryck Parry because he’s been a faithful servant. His commitment to the game has been unwavering and his services over the years have been of great value.
It might not be too early, however, to hit out strongly at Stuart Williams as many angry fans have done following his handling of the four U-19 players that were requested to travel to Antigua and the five who actually attended that training camp.
What transpired turned out to be a rather unfortunate and selfish move by our former captain and West Indies opening batsman. The four original players did in fact go on to represent the Leeward Islands U-19 team as wisdom prevailed at the higher level.
I know I’ll get some kicks for this article but I will not hold my peace while the game that I love, the game that has brought so much joy, fun, entertainment and pride to Nevisians, the game that has helped to put Nevis on the map is being trampled on by some of our current players.
The authorities themselves must share some blame for allowing certain situations to get out of hand. Higher authorities have also infringed on the NCA and in effect interfered on occasions. However, players have been let off unpunished or under punished for acts of indiscipline and disgraceful behaviour. NCA should take some blame for that.
Just recently, both semi-final and final matches in the second division Cable and Wireless competition were “broken-up” by players who for one reason or another disagreed with the decision of the umpire. It’s understood that some disciplinary action has been taken against those players and I do hope it will serve as a deterrent to others.
Nevis participated in the inaugural Stanford 20/20 tournament in 2006 and rose to the occasion in the preliminary matches. It was, however, quite instructive to hear one of the outstanding players from that team expressing his disgust at the attitude and behaviour of other team members upon their return home. He was in no way sorry that his team did not qualify for the big bucks because of what he felt might have transpired with the players had they gotten the bigger prize.
Alas! Nevis was privileged in 2007 to be awarded Pro-Team status by Sir Allen Stanford. Selected players were paid in excess of $6,500 monthly while the coach was paid in excess of $15,000 monthly to develop their cricket skills with 9AM-5PM training sessions at Grove Park, and later at the Cotton Ground playing field. That program after some 8 months was pre-maturely scrubbed and not many were surprised, not many have bought the given reasons for it being cancelled. Can money really improve our cricketers?
This 2008 local cricket season saw games being played almost every day during the week. Much more cricket was played this year than normal in so much that complaints about too much cricket being played and players not having enough time to recuperate for the next day. The NCA to their credit did in fact provide ample opportunities for all to play sufficient cricket during the season.
This years’ Leeward Islands tournament was judgment day for Nevis cricket as most of our players who were in the Pro-Team squad had the opportunity to showcase their worth. Nevis won both the 3 days and Limited-Over matches against the BVI with Aquito Willett staring with that ball and Carlon Smitthen with the bat, respectively.
The second match against Anguilla also saw Willett starting with the bat while scoring the only century for Nevis for the year. Nevis won the 3-day match but lost the Limited Over game and the tide seemed to change for Nevis at that point.
St. Martin, after losing to Nevis on first inning went on to embarrass our boys by defeating them by 136 runs. Following that St. Martin match both Aquito Willett and Carlon Smitthen were left out of the team for disciplinary reasons.
St. Kitts also whipped Nevis at home in their last match which ruled the Nevisians out of the finals in Antigua this weekend. The performance of our players lacked evidence of them being serious about the game and questions asked about the months of training as a Pro-Team.
It’s a sad time in Nevis cricket and too many of us remain silent while others turn a blind eye.
Losing a match is not always a problem but the efforts on display, the attitude towards the game, the lack of discipline and determination and other negative aspects need to be seriously addressed and rectified. It’s quite logical to accept that off field life-styles, attitudes and mannerism have some influence on on-field performances as often they dove-tail with each other.
The Limited over matches are yet to be completed and our boys do have time to redeem themselves for that series. The talent is always present but the other attributes are seriously lacking. Cricket is too big a game and has been too good for Nevisians to allow this present crop of players to drag it into the mud. The time for radical change is now.