“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” – Proverbs 24:14

Last week, I listened to a Sanjay Manjrekar compered discussion on the Internet. The question was asked of the panel – who, in the panel’s opinion, was the best batsmen in, say, the last ten years? The criteria included technique, ability to play spin, consistency of performance, success under different playing conditions, survival under pressure, domination of bowling attacks to take control of a game. The vote emerged unanimously in favour of Brian Lara. In his support for Lara one of the panel added ‘especially when his brain is in gear for there are times when he goes a bit crazy”.

Osman Samiuddin, reporting on the Cricinfo web site, had this to say about the WI first test defeat at Lahore – Brian Lara’s decision to bat first in murky overcast conditions didn’t help, though he might not have been aware that he was continuing a poor historical precedent: only three sides batting first at Gaddafi Stadium have triumphed in 37 contests before this one. Bob Woolmer (the Pakistani coach) might have known, admitting that Pakistan would have fielded first anyway.

Fazeer Mohammed, the Trinidadian cricket commentator, asked at the end of this first test “So where do West Indies go from here?” As well as the Caribbean cricketers have progressed as a unit in one-day internationals during the course of this year, too many of them still don’t know how to play Test cricket. It’s not just about the results, which are damning enough, but the repetitive manner in which they tend to subside, at home and abroad, which underscore that reality.

It must be galling for Lara to have now scored 5226 runs in vain for West Indies. Vain in the context of at least not losing Test matches (something he has been talking about more and more over the last few months), though clearly not futile in terms of the sheer delight he has brought to fans of the game around the world for the incomparable elegance and style with which he embellishes an insatiable appetite for runs. Some of Lara’s greatest performances, the 688 runs with a double-century and two other hundreds in three Tests in Sri Lanka in 2001 stand out, have come in the midst of comprehensive defeats.

But time is running out, and even if the evidence of his 33rd Test hundred and third in as many matches against the Pakistanis reaffirms his pre-eminence among contemporary batsmen worldwide, Lara is increasingly haunted by the stark reality that too many of his runs are only of personal statistical value.

Fazeer continues – Like millions of Indian cricket fans and their obsession with Sachin Tendulkar, many Trinidadians now don’t seem to mind too much that the West Indies have been beaten again, so long as their hero has gotten another hundred. Those indulging in that short-sighted consolation would do well to appreciate, as Lara certainly does, that his Test career has, maybe, another couple years to run and that the game, and the team, are always bigger than the player, never mind how great that player is.

What is the plan for the Future of West Indies cricket in both forms of the game? How long will Brian Lara continue be selected for ODI’s, his ODI batting average is steadily declining? His ODI captaincy style has flattered to deceive; he has not delivered sustained success. When will he retire from test cricket? Are we just hanging on in the hope that he will continue to give us cameos of his batting brilliance from time to time, usually in a losing cause? Who will replace him as West Indies captain? Should a new culture not be infused in the team when he is gone? Is it not good planning to select his successor now, replace him as captain and develop that new culture? What is the plan to develop our brilliantly talented cricketers from the shoulders up, so that we can love them; melt them and mould them; and bring them to the fullness of life?

According to Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org, Strategic management is the process of specifying an organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve these objectives, and allocating resources so as to implement the plans. It is the highest level of managerial activity, usually performed by the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and executive team. It provides overall direction to the whole enterprise. An organization’s strategy must be appropriate for its resources, circumstances, and objectives. The process involves matching the companies’ strategic advantages to the business environment the organization faces. One objective of an overall corporate strategy is to put the organization into a position to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently. A good corporate strategy should integrate an organization’s goals, policies, and action sequences (tactics) into a cohesive whole.

May the new WICB CEO and the management team know that the wisdom of strategic management is sweet to their souls; if they find it, there is a future hope for WI cricket and their hope will not be cut off.