Time to invest in Hetmeyer as West Indies captain

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Since Kieron Pollard has stepped down from the captaincy of the West Indies Limited Overs teams, the debate over who should replace him has been raging across the region. Although changes in the leadership have not led to changes in the fortune of the team, West Indians have continued to put a lot of faith in the lengthy list of captains. After two years at the helm, Pollard could not bring about the revival of the team. He is a passionate leader, but his own ambivalence towards West Indies cricket in the past proved to be a barrier that he could not overcome. In the end, even his place in the team was not guaranteed.

West Indies cricket badly needs more than a captain—it needs a leader. Transformation requires transformative leaders. The problem is that Caribbean society itself is not in a transformative mode. A crisis of identity accompanied by a culture of individualism plagues the region. The further the society moves away from its colonial past, the less nationalistic it has become. And the glory days of West Indian cricket were grounded in a sense of ingrained nationalism. Therein lies the problematic for West Indies cricket—it is a victim of what happens beyond the boundary.

We make the above point to emphasize that none of the leading candidates to replace Pollard possesses what is needed to lead the West Indies to a quick revival. Many observers believe that there are three candidates for the job—Jason Holder, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmeyer. Pooran must be the favorite by virtue of the fact that he is the current vice-captain. But he is not a tactician—he doesn’t strike one as a student of the game. Jason Holder has been there already. Like Pooran , he is not a tactician. But as a cricketer, he seems to have the respect of his colleagues. Hetmeyer appears to be a thoughtful cricketer, but he has not captained much since his stint as the Under 19 captain. He also seems not to enjoy the confidence of the decision makers.
This publication thinks that selection of the captain must be premised on where Cricket West Indies wants to take West Indies cricket in the short to medium term. We feel that at the least the West Indies should be aiming to something dramatic—something akin to what Clive Lloyd did when in 1976 he opted for aggression and combat as a method and culture. Over time that culture characterized everything the team did.

If the culture of aggression and combat is the preferred option, then Hetmeyer is the man for the job. He is daring and possesses some tactical acumen. He is a team-man and above all, he commands his place in the team. Some people mistake his jovialness for immaturity—we do not. It is instructive that the Dave Cameron administration was prepared to invest in him as the future leader of West Indies cricket. If there is one question, it is the extent to which he is a student of the game. Is he, for example, conscious of the role of cricket in Caribbean national evolution? We shall see. But for now, we think it is worth investing in him.

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