Better in past days The marauding dominance of the West Indies team in those glory days was hardly due to any stroke of genius or brilliant structures and systems implemented by the board then, compared to what is happening now. In fact, I would venture to say that things are better today for the average regional cricketer than they were back in those glory days. Other social, cultural and cricket dynamics have significantly shifted over the past two decades and have effectively forced West Indies cricket into relative obscurity. Those are not restricted to the ineptitude of successive boards and administrators. I have long argued that the problems of West Indies cricket are complex and multifaceted and at this point I would like to add unsolvable. West Indies cricket will never return to what it used to be. The game of cricket has evolved globally, but it has done so at an even faster rate in the West Indies. The fundamental factor driving the current reality is the shift in the mindset and focus of the young and emerging players in the region. The advent of the fast, frantic and cash-rich T20 version of the game has rendered the longer versions of the game irrelevant and unattractive to the average young cricketer across the region. This is quite understandable, since the players stand to make ton loads more money and become bigger and more celebrated stars if they become swashbuckling T20 experts such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, and Andre Russell, instead of seeking to represent a struggling mockery of a Test team that is merely clinging to the remnants of a triumphant past. The future of West Indies cricket lies in the T20 format and nowhere else. The West Indies are just as pathetic and shameless in 50-over cricket as they are in Test cricket. The natural athleticism, speed, strength, agility plus typically short attention span makes the Caribbean cricketer the perfect fit for T20. Only the blind optimists will remain defiant and continue to clutch at the rhetoric-laced emotional straws being offered as a chance of a full West Indies revival. The hard, cold fact of the matter is that West Indies cricket remains in a serious coma gasping for its last breath, with the life support machine being fuelled by the much-maligned Twenty20 cricket. ONE of my colleagues said in a commentary last week that the West Indies Cricket Board is sleeping. Upon hearing that pronouncement, I contacted him immediately, telling him it was worse. It is not just that the board is sleeping; West Indies cricket itself is in a coma. This conversation took place even before the regional team bowed and slumped to another predictable and pathetic innings defeat in the first Test match on the current tour of Sri Lanka. Blaming a sleeping WICB for the continuous deterioration of our cricket is an easy way out, within which lies a covert denial of the actual gravity of the situation. Many Caribbean fans continue to profess unconditional support for the West Indies team. Again, an attitude buried in a deep-seated denial of the rapid whittling away of the West Indies team and the very institution of West Indies cricket as we once knew it. The many clichÈd rants about returning to the glory days and turning the corner are basically ‘pie in the sky’ dreams based on emotionalism, blind loyalty, and patriotism without any semblance of appreciation for the reality. While the administrators of the regional board provide an easy punching bag for the state of our cricket, my retort to that is that the competence of our administrators is in no way significantly worse today than it was in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
– says more research unnecessaryPresident David Granger has publicly pronounced, on numerous occasions, that ‘unhappy people commit suicide’ however non-governmental organisation The Caribbean Voice (TCV) believes the Head of State’s view on the matter is too simplistic, especially given his reputation as a scholar and researcher, and the fact that the country is nearing epidemic proportion.In a statement issued Sunday, the organisation said the President’s pronouncements give the impression that once someone is unhappy, they eventually commit suicide.But the NGO explained that had this really been the case, then the majority of the world’s population would have been committing suicide.“Yes, indeed people may be unhappy leading up to the act of finality but it is not the unhappiness in itself that leads to suicide; rather it is the factor or combination of factors that create the unhappiness and the agonising pain – physical, psychological, emotional – that drives suicide,” the statement read.Furthermore, TCV strongly believes that additional research on the causation of suicide in Guyana is really, at this point, unnecessary.President Granger, as well as other members of his government, have been emphasising the need for more research on suicide but the NGO believes that the factors that drive suicide have already been documented by various researchers.“Essentially these are abusive and dysfunctional relationships; teenage affairs and pregnancy; rape and incest; an inability to deal with problems and challenges (lack of coping skills) and/or unbearable pain – physical or emotional – which generally give rise to awful agony and depression, and feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, powerlessness and loneliness,” the NGO stated.In Guyana’s context, it highlighted that suicide has become normative, to a certain extent, and therefore is not only seen as a solution to life’s challenges but also as just another choice instead of a last, desperate option.Additionally, TCV observed that suicidal mindset is prone to copycatting – a practice referred to as the Werther Effect and catalysed by alcoholism; lack of empathetic communication and low levels of self-acceptance and/or feelings of inadequacy. That aside, TCV echoed the President’s call for a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders nationally in addressing this prevailing issue.Recognising that most of the groundwork on suicide prevention are being executed in Georgetown, the NGO underscored the need to reach into other communities and rural areas throughout Guyana, in order to include them in any suicide prevention campaign.“The approach must be multilayered and encompassing, so as to address all the factors. At the crux of this campaign should be a priority on an integrated healthcare system as advocated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with basic mental health training provided to all healthcare workers and other stakeholders; especially given that for many, depression precedes the act of suicide and also because individuals dealing with mental and physical health issues often end up committing suicide,” the group stated.Some additional measures include placement of counsellors in schools, which was supposed to have started since February; introduction of the Health and Family Programme in schools, especially focusing on social and empowerment issues including self-esteem, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance; bringing back the Gatekeepers Programme, hand in hand with a ‘Train The Trainers’ Programme so that every community can have eyes and ears that will act proactively to tackle suicide prevention and related issues; establishment of a support network to ease the effects of poverty, unemployment and under-employment, and that must include skills training for the young in a concerted and holistic manner rather than randomly and selectively; legal enforcement of laws (to include raising the age of consent to 18 and establishing a registry of sex offenders) to address abuse, especially partner and sexual abuse and mechanisms in place to help victims of abuse deal with the trauma and other effects of their abuse; putting in place measures to address pesticide suicide – the Shri Lanka Model or something similar; an ongoing campaign to develop self-esteem and coping skills; an ongoing education campaign to counter myths and misinformation and arm citizens with facts, information and suicide prevention strategies; measures in place, supported by legal enforcement, to curb alcoholism and drug use.TCV asserted that the bottom line is that there is neither the need to reinvent the wheel or expend huge sums of money.“A genuine collaborative approach, with inclusive planning, coordination, mapping and oversight, where volunteerism is a key facet, and entities at all levels can be incorporated, will make it not that difficult to implement these measures and maintain a national focus with respect to suicide prevention. The Caribbean Voice stands ready to lend its humble efforts to such an endeavour.”