There are strong and intriguing parallels between the performances of the West Indian Cricket team and the region’s economy during the past three decades. The Windies’ successes remained sporadic until the 1960s, when the side changed from a white-dominated to a black-dominated team – the Windies became more inclusive and more competitive where team selection was based on merit. By the 1970s and 1980s, the West Indies’ side was recognized as unofficial world champions; the Windies included some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, such as Sir Viv Richards, Joel Garner, and Michael Holding.
“How would the ‘Master Blaster’ deal with the region’s stagnant economy?”
pictured: Sir Vivian Richards
However, West Indian cricket began a steady decline in the 1990s, which has continued through the current decade, largely due to the team’s failure to adjust to changes in the sport. The West Indian Cricket Board was slow to transition its game from an amateur to a professional sport, even as its global competitors elsewhere made this adjustment. The team today is struggling to regain its past glory.
In the 1970s, the Caribbean region was confronted with the dismantling of trade preferences, declining aid flows, and external shocks. The Caribbean countries responded to the changing global economy by switching from agriculture to tourism and financial services, thereby setting the stage for high economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s. During the last decade, this development model appears to have run its course. It is no longer delivering in terms of economic growth, and the Caribbean region is in relative decline with little prospect, ceteris paribus, of regaining the halcyon times.
What to do about Windies’ cricket is much too complex and controversial. What to do about the Caribbean region’s economy is straightforward and necessary: stabilize and reform.