Cricket in the Caribbean has suffered many lows during its regression over the past decade. However, few have been quite a farcical as the sight of the regional team's captain being forced to send one of his leading bowlers from the field because of insubordination. On Sunday, as West Indies lurched to a sixth successive defeat against South Africa, Chris Gayle jettisoned Sulieman Benn, the left-arm spinner, who is said to be a good friend of his captain, for refusing to follow orders.
Gayle wanted Benn to change his line of attack to over the wicket, but the towering slow-bowler protested, claiming he had never done so before. Having bowled just four overs, he was sent from the field, and the home side proceeded to stumble to a seven-wicket defeat. Benn has retained his place in the squad as his side bid to avoid a series whitewash today, even though he was fined his entire match fee for his indiscretion.
As if the on-field performances have not been painful enough, the game in the Caribbean has also been riven by in-fighting between administrators. Ernest Hilaire, the West Indies Cricket Board chief executive, has been outspoken in his criticism of the state of the game. "Our cricketers are the products of the failing Caribbean society, where money and instant gratification are paramount," Hilaire was quoted as saying in the Caribbean media earlier this week. His comments brought an angry rebuke from the West Indies players' union, who claimed such words would become fodder for opposing players.
Clive Lloyd, the decorated former West Indies captain, hopes the inauguration of a long-awaited High Performance Centre in Barbados will help to revive cricket in the region. The centre will be officially opened on Monday, with 15 young players set to become the first inductees. "I think our cricket is at a very low ebb at the moment," said Lloyd, who was at the helm when the West Indies were regarded as being the strongest side in world cricket.
"We are trying our best. I am a director of the board. It has taken us a long while to get an academy going, which was something I asked for even when I was playing. "With an academy, you will have players who are well rounded. Sport is about intelligence. "If you don't understand the finer points of things like power plays, when to take them, it will be difficult. "You have to be on the ball all the time, and if you are not, you can run in to problems all the time.
"Intelligence plays a great part. You tend to find the captains who understand those things and can work them out, tend to end at the top." @Email:email@example.com West Indies v South Africa, 5th ODI, 5.30pm, Ten Sports