Disaster of Titanic proportions to West Indies cricket

Mar 01, 2016, 08:38 IST | Rudi Webster

It would be a tragedy if administrators, who have contributed little or nothing to the success of Windies cricket, would knowingly and intentionally destroy everything that the greats achieved on and off the field, writes Rudi Webster

Recently, I read a book about the maiden voyage of the Titanic. On the ill-fated night that the Titanic sank it received five clear warnings from other ships about icebergs in the area. The overconfident captain who believed that his ship was unsinkable ignored the warnings, refused to change course or take corrective action, and the ship hit an iceberg. You know the rest of the story.

Many a captain has gone down with his ship because he refused to listen to objective feedback and take remedial action. Rejection of such feedback and an unwillingness to be flexible and adaptive often result in great disasters.

Over the years, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) was given clear warnings of the great dangers ahead in the Lucky, Patterson, Wilkin and Caricom reports. These four reports gave similar feedback but in the Caricom report the feedback was more urgent and direct.

Sir Garfield Sobers watches a West Indies practice session at the P Sara Oval in Colombo last October.  The Windies legend cried while speaking about the state of cricket in the Caribbean.
Sir Garfield Sobers watches a West Indies practice session at the P Sara Oval in Colombo last October.
The Windies legend cried while speaking about the state of cricket in the Caribbean. Pic/AFP

Like the captain of the Titanic, the leaders of the WICB rejected this feedback, did not take corrective action and are now headed for a disaster of Titanic proportions. Sadly, the WICB did not just dismiss the findings in the last report but it did so in a manner that showed gross disrespect for the prime ministers of the region and the eminent persons on the Committee.

The captain of the Titanic ignored the last warning and basically hinted and signaled back, “Don’t bother us. Who the hell are you to tell us anything?” Similarly, the president and Board signaled the prime ministers that they didn’t need their advice, just their money. They stressed that the Board would make its own decisions and do what it has to do without interference from government. There is one great difference between the Titanic and the WICB that made the Board’s decision dangerously reckless. Before the Titanic went down it was in pristine condition; the WICB was already a sinking ship.

Need correct feedback
In life we all need correct feedback to monitor progress and adjust our strategy and direction on the way to our goals. Pompous and overconfident leaders often lose purpose and direction and perform poorly because they become experts at denying objective feedback. If they don’t like the picture, they deny the feedback.

A case is being made that Dave Cameron could possibly be the Board’s most overconfident, inflexible and arrogant president. Experts tell us that overconfidence is psychological fraud and a prescription for disaster.

Over-confident leaders think they are better than they really are. They usually overestimate their power, importance and ability and underestimate that of other people. They put themselves on a pedestal and believe that they are king. With that mindset they behave recklessly, foolishly and selfishly and eventually pay a heavy price.

Sobers in tears
For selfish and personal reasons, Board members seem intent on breaking up the fabric of West Indies cricket and destroying the outstanding legacy of our great cricketers and great teams. I was very hurt to see Sir Garfield Sobers in tears when he was asked about the state of West Indies cricket a few months ago. Sir Garfield and the other legends are hurting.

For decades West Indies teams received worldwide adulation, recognition and public acclamation. Even Nelson Mandela was a keen supporter. He admitted that when he was in jail in Robben Island he followed the West Indies team and got confidence and great pride and satisfaction from the team’s triumphs.

It would be a tragedy if administrators who have contributed little or nothing to the success of West Indies cricket could knowingly and intentionally destroy everything that our great stars and warriors achieved on and off the cricket field. And indeed, everything else that past administrators fought for since 1928.

When countries run into economic difficulties they go to the IMF and World Bank for help. These institutions then place them on structural adjustment programmes to reform their economies and improve their growth and economic performance.

About a year ago I jokingly said that the ICC should have the power to intervene in extreme circumstances and place poorly functioning member states under structural adjustment programmes.

Similar idea
Recently, Steve Waugh a former Australian captain floated the same idea. He hinted that the ICC should step in and try to arrest the decline of West Indies cricket.

It is very clear that the WICB will not reform itself.

A few days ago, Caribbean prime Ministers met in Belize and have insisted that the WICB be dissolved and the recommendations of the Caricom report implemented. They stressed that they have no desire to meet with the WICB again and will inform the ICC and the BCCI of its decisions, its very strong feelings towards the WICB, and the replacement body they would like to see in its place.

Like the captain of the Titanic, the president of the WICB believes that his board is untouchable and unsinkable and he will fight to the bitter end. But, alas his ship has hit a very large iceberg and will soon sink with all hands on deck.

Grenada-based Dr Rudi Webster, a renowned sports psychologist, has been associated with West Indies cricket since the 1970s.

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