A report commissioned by Cricket West Indies (CWI) in the wake of the team’s disastrous 2022 T20 World Cup campaign has warned that West Indies cricket may "cease to exist" if players continue prioritizing T20 leagues over international duty.
Following West Indies’ premature exit from the T20 World Cup in Australia last year, a three-man panel was formed by CWI to investigate the team’s below-par performances at the international level. The panel comprised Windies legend Brian Lara, experienced coach Mickey Arthur and senior judge Patrick Thompson.
West Indies have struggled to make a consistent impact in international cricket since a number of players prefer featuring in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and other T20 competitions. The report said:
"It is essential that some middle ground is arrived at. Otherwise, West Indies cricket may cease to exist as an entity. This group does not indulge in doomsday predictions but no entity, sporting or otherwise, has a viable future if its talent is not harnessed and effectively managed."
Urging for a frank and honest discussion over the nation vs franchise debate to find a solution to the ‘impasse’, the report noted:
"It is not in the best interests of West Indies cricket that our best players play in every global league and play for the WI Team on an optional basis.”
Bowling all-rounder Sunil Narine, who is a constant presence for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL, last represented West Indies in August 2019.
“Significant distrust between the players and administration” - Report on West Indies cricket
The report also stated that the long-standing disputes between West Indies players and the CWI stem from a lack of trust between the two parties. The panel opined:
"In this group's view, there is significant distrust between the players and administration and this distrust is inimical to ensuring that the best 11 players turn out for the WI Team in every match.”
The report further made a number of recommendations to improve the functioning of the West Indies team. Significantly, the next T20 World Cup in 2024 will be held in the Caribbean and the United States.
On West Indies’ early exit from the 2022 T20 World Cup, where they lost to Scotland and Ireland, the panel noted that the team was "underprepared", pointing out the short time gap between the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the ICC event. The report concluded:
"WI cricket does not lack for talent but our small size in comparison with other cricketing nations means that we cannot afford to lose any talented players.
"Cricket West Indies (CWI) must develop and create clear pathways for the identification, development and management of talent. Otherwise, WI cricket runs the risk of being strip-mined by other professional leagues that can afford to harvest and develop our players for their benefit."
West Indies are two-time winners of the T20 World Cup, having captured the crown in 2012 and 2016. However, they have struggled to make an impact in the last two editions of the tournament.
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