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Rescue the West Indies from ‘Windies’

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Almost when we were not looking, Dave Cameron and Cricket West Indies discarded the historic cricketing nation of the West Indies for the inane and gimmickry-driven “Windies”–what a travesty!

Apart from the absolutely nonsensical rationale given for changing the name of the West Indies cricket team to this nauseating “Windies”, the unilateral action of Cameron’s board is repulsive, and an affront to the great West Indian cricketing tradition and the nation.

The constant ring of this “Windies” by the television commentators in the series against Bangladesh got to me. This is not merely the change in the name of an international cricket team, but the attempt to dissolve the 500 years of the existence of the West Indies and all that that means. Viv Richards says when he walked to the wicket it was to honour his ancestors who toiled in the sugar cane fields of the West Indies.

There is much to be said about the process, the name, and the rationale given by the board. Let us start at the name change of the board from the West Indies Cricket Board to Cricket West Indies. Like good little “Mimic Men” as V S Naipaul (thanks for the many painful self-realizations) described us, the board followed Australia in placing “cricket” before the cricketing country that is the West Indies.

However, no Australian administrator in his right mind would dare replace Australia with “Aussies”.

Completely contradictory to the rationale given by the board for the change of its name ie, that “we need all of our stakeholders to work in partnership, and the name change is an important first step in our strategy…” the unilateral and deceptive change of name of the team was done without discussion and consultation with the “stakeholders” and owners of West indies cricket, the people of the region and the West Indian Diaspora.

Nowhere in the release of May 2017 was there even an attempt by the board to give a logical rationale for its change from West Indies to “Windies”; surely it cannot be the trite reference made to “...the Windies name has long been associated with the representative teams within International cricket...”

Can Cameron and the board tell us what good news has resulted from this change of name and brand? Surely it could not be on the field of play; not greater organisation of the teams and the relations between the board and the players; not in terms of nurturing and managing our West Indian players to get the best out of them. If the change has resulted in earning greater returns from the series played against other teams, then that should be told to us.

The changes have surely not resulted in greater crowd support at the cricket grounds around the West Indies; the teams have not ascended the cricket ladder in the various forms of the game; and we are not attracting the top teams to play against us beyond a charitable grant of a Test match or two, a couple ODIs and T20s, no doubt in recognition of the once great West Indian cricketing nation.

I have been told assuredly that the new name and branding had nothing to do with the only West Indian international chain hotel/resort, Sandals, associating itself with West Indies Cricket.

What I have been told is that West Indian commentators and cricket writers have been surreptitiously and with mafia-like stealth forced into referring to the team as the “Windies”. This Cameron board has been the most destructive to West Indies cricket.

We must not as “West Indians,” who C L R James observed back in the 1960s, “crowding into Tests, bring with them the whole past history and future hopes of the islands,” allow a dozen men to sit in a room and so dramatically, violently and perversely mutilate a cricketing nation’s name. What’s in a name? It becomes our birthright.

“This is not just cricket, this thing goes beyond the boundary; it’s up to you and me to make sure that they fail; soon we must take a side, or lost in the rubble in a divided world that don’t need islands no more are we doomed forever to be at somebody’s mercy? Little keys can open up mighty doors”—‘Rally Round the West Indies.’ Rudder.

We owe this to Constantine, Headley, Worrell, Sobers, Lloyd, and our great West Indian ancestors.


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