By Neto Baptiste
Former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, believes “patriotism” is harming the development and growth of players and by extension, cricket in the region.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, the Antiguan who player 26 Tests and 26 One Day International (ODI) matches, explained that a tendency by franchises to want to hold onto players only because they are nationals of that country, only deprives selectors of seeing the best players available for selection.
“One of the things that I find in the Caribbean is that, I think, patriotism is killing us and Sir Viv would know that when we go to England to play and when he played for Somerset and Glamorgan that’s where you play for and that’s where you represent because that’s where you are at that time. But I think in the Caribbean everybody wants to play for their country rather than play cricket and I think that is one of the problems we are facing,” he said.
“We need to be exposing our best players, it doesn’t matter where they come from and it would only make other players raise their standard. If we are playing mediocre players just because where they come from then the standard isn’t going to rise,” he added.
Franchises across the region are allowed to offer retainer contracts to a number of players, the majority or all of whom are usually national players based in the country from which the particular franchise is based.
Benjamin pointed to what he considers a prime example where two of the region’s most promising wicketkeeper batsmen, Nicholas Pooran and Joshua Da Sliva, both appear for Trinidad in regional tournaments.
“You have Pooran and you have Da Silva but when you look at Da Silva and the type of cricketer he is, he is not a bad wicketkeeper either, so he could be pushing for one of the wicketkeeper spots as well. But what if you have the number one and the number two wicketkeepers [in the region] in Trinidad? This is why I keep saying that you have to professionalise the system where it would be nice if somebody would say, Da Silva, I think you better come and keep for us,” the former player said.
“Let’s suppose somebody does that because let’s face it, the two of them can’t keep for Trinidad but based on what we are seeing, those two guys are probably the best two wicketkeeper batsmen we have in the Caribbean right now and you could have a situation where both of them end up in Trinidad’s team and one of them probably won’t get any glove work,” he added.
Benjamin claimed 92 wickets in his 26 Tests and 33 in the same number of ODI matches.