Tony Becca: Going, going, and may be almost gone

first_imgWest Indies cricket, the envy of the world for decades past because of its exiting and brilliant batsmen, fast and furious fast bowlers, and its acrobatic fielders, and undisputed champions of the world for 19 years up to 1995, is now at rock bottom and looks like getting deeper and deeper. In fact, based on the events of this week, and after all that have gone on in the past 15 or 20 years, a good bet is that the West Indies days are numbered. West Indies cricket is not the West Indies team alone. It is the West Indies teams and West Indies cricketers, all West Indian cricketers. And every penny belongs to the West Indies – to be added up, divided up fairly and equitably, and to be distributed to the players according to merit and on value to the team. The West Indies players have been on so many strikes, it has not been funny. Some have gone ahead, and some have been short-lived. Almost after every one of them there have been court cases, all sorts of meetings, all sorts of plans, and all sorts of MOUs and understandings. There have also been all kinds of pay structures agreed on. After 2014 and the Indian embarrassment, there were all kind of calls for all kinds of meetings, for all kinds of take-overs, and there were meetings involving prime ministers, Dave Cameron and board members, players, lawyers, and players association members. Although it is common knowledge that the West Indies have lost 80 of 132 Test matches while winning only 14 against the top eight teams since losing 5-0 to England in 2000 and 5-0 to Australia in 2000-1, and have failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy while Bangladesh have done so, cricket, results on the field, have nothing to do with it, not really. The problem which threatens to explode and blow West Indies to the four corners of the earth is money, pure and simply money. The West Indies are set to participate in the World Twenty20 tournament in March in India, but once again, as happened so many times in the recent past, including the 2014 Test tour of India, the squad of players, led by captain Daren Sammy, wrote the board, demanding more money for the services. In a nutshell, that’s what the players want, more money. The players, led by Sammy, want double the match fee, 50 per cent of sponsorship money, and 100 per cent of any prize-money won. On top of that, they don’t want to deal with the West Indies Players’ Association whatsoever. The board seems adamant that it will not pay. According to the board, it cannot pay. It is as simple as that. The board, if needs be, will select a new team for the tournament. The players claim they are losing money, that they are losing as much as 85 per cent of their money, and that they cannot afford that, even if some of that money is going to subsidise the salaries of contracted Caribbean first-class players for the newly formed Professional Cricket League. The West Indies players, it seems, cannot afford to subsidise Caribbean first-class players, not even for the suffering first-class players to go from getting nothing to getting something. The West Indies players, however, would be comfortable if they were to be, as they are now, subsidised by the cricket world from the money earned by the money-spinners elsewhere in the world. Is it right for the non-West Indies player to run around in the sun day after day for days at a time and then sit down and twiddle his thumbs, with nothing to do or eat, just looking on from the outside? No, it is not right, it was never right, and it can never be right. The West Indies Cricket Board has made many mistakes in their time, but this is not one. This is one to produce for West Indies cricket. This is one to ensure that what is happening now never happens again. This is one for West Indies cricket. Finding a vision Top eight teams There were mediations and arbitrations at which there were ICC representatives, FICA representatives, WICB members, WIPA members, and accountants, at which the players and the board discussed their responsibilities along with finding a vision of West Indies cricket. The meetings, all of them, one or the other, agreed and decided on all categories of remuneration, on player compensation re West Indies, international, franchise, or first-class levels, incentive payments, down to injury payments, and with the help and agreement of ICC and FICA.at that, according to the board. All this was done from May, and then suddenly, two few weeks before the deadline, comes another storm. “I am sending this as captain of the West Indies T20 side as a collective representative of the 15-man squad selected for the upcoming T20 World Cup,” said Sammy. And then he proceeded to say that WIPA does not represent the players, that the money is not what the players had expected, that they wanted it doubled at least, and he made it clear, in his first letter, that the players would not accept the current offer. “If you don’t agree to the above, would you consider that this matter goes to mediation for a settlement?” said Sammy. Michael Muirhead, CEO of the board, replied, politely, “If we should not hear from any player by February 14, we will presume that you have refused selection.” The West Indies payment structure was changed in 2014, partly by the ICC because of the money they decided to share around: 25 per cent of ICC cricket money guaranteed from the player pool per year, 53 per cent to international players, 47 per cent to 90 contracted first-class players, at the end of four years fund assessed and any excess will be paid to international players only. For all fees retainers, Test match fees, ODI fees, T20 fees, ICC, events, practice matches, captains fees, and per diems fees will be paid separately, worked out with WICB, WIPA, FICA, and ICC, who added on US$1,000 per day of cricket for each player who is not on a senior contract for the use of their image rights. According to the board, the retainer fees were increased in 2013 from US$5,000 to US$160,000 to most of the top players in the T20 league. Additionally, the windows are left open for Indian Premier League and Big Bash League twice a year. It is now possible for top West Indies players to earn, according the board, US$315,000 per year ($155,000 from WICB and $160,000 from CPL). West Indies cricket has so much money and no more, and they can pay only what they can afford to pay. The cricket has to be supported, and other players have to be looked after. Why, for example, wait from May until now to deal with these things? Money is money, and it is important, no doubt about it. There are times, however, when some things are more important, when one can do with a little less for the benefit of a brother or a sister. If this tour beaks up again, it may be the end of West Indies cricket. Trinidad and Tobago have already whispered the idea to members of the ICC, and Richard Pybus, West Indies director of cricket, has already said, just recently, “A split can’t be discounted in 10 years.” According to meritlast_img read more

Nature Can’t Wait for Darwin Day

first_imgDarwin Day (Feb. 12, 2009) is months away, but Nature devoted a special issue to it this week. The cover story, Darwin 200, includes 15 articles and features, some of which are available to the public. Features include a list of celebrations and exhibitions around the world, including a re-enactment of Darwin’s voyage on a “modernized replica” of the HMS Beagle. The voyage will be a floating field trip beamed to classrooms worldwide. The lead Editorial, “Beyond the Origin,” contained the expected creation-bashing and touting of Darwin’s theory as the greatest idea in history, but it ended with a curious theme: synthetic biology will allow the origin of life by intelligent design, though Darwin’s law of natural selection will continue to rule biology. By the time the 200th birthday of On the Origin of Species is celebrated, the life under study by science may well no longer be united by common ancestry in the way that all life is today. In that sense, Darwin’s view of the world will have been superseded. But whether that life exists around another star or in a bioreactor, it will still evolve, if given leave to, according to the simple and awe-inspiring algorithms of natural selection. The essay of Dobzhansky’s quoted earlier bears the now-famous title “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. That is so close to being an analytical truth – a necessary implication of what life itself is – that we can be certain it will continue to be true into the future. But that certainty in no way limits the diversity and sheer wonder of what we will find on the voyage that Darwin began.The celebratory euphoria in this editorial was quenched somewhat by another article in the special issue by Janet Browne, historian at Harvard and authority on Darwin. Although calling Darwin’s theory a “magnificent achievement” offering “remarkable explanatory power for 150 years,” she found some dirty laundry in the political history of Darwinism.1 Noting that “it is worth remembering that scientific anniversaries also provide an opportunity to push an agenda, and even to adapt the past, so telling us what we like best to hear,” Browne revisited prior Darwin celebrations in 1882, 1909 and 1959 to see what happened then. She found an interesting phenomenon: Darwin celebrations tended to be agenda-driven attempts to shore up a theory in crisis:1882: When Darwin died, his supporters used his “funeral as propaganda.” Concerned at the time over criticisms that Darwin’s views were hostile to religion, Thomas Huxley and crew hastened to get him buried in Westminster Abbey. Why?The funeral service and many obituaries stressed that Darwin was not an atheist. He was instead described as a good man, committed to truth and honesty. This was true, but it was also valuable propaganda at a time when relations between science and religion were intensely fraught. The men of the Royal Society used Darwin’s funeral as a way to reassure their contemporaries that science was not a threat to moral values, but rather was becoming increasingly important in the modern world.1909: The 50th anniversary of the Origin found Darwin’s theory in decline. New views on genetics, fossils and orthogenesis were undermining his views on gradual change, implying instead a goal-directed path of descent and even teleology. “The 1909 commemorations, organized by a small group of naturalists and Darwin family members from the University of Cambridge, provided a way to reassert the primacy of natural selection against other evolutionary rivals,” Browne said.1959: The bombastic Darwin Centennial hosted by the University of Chicago in 1959 was another attempt to whitewash Darwin, Browne argued. This Darwin anniversary was held at the University of Chicago in Illinois, in a symposium that pointedly celebrated the integration of genetics and population statistics with selection theory. Ten years earlier, this integration had almost taken the form of a political treaty. Putting it bluntly, field naturalists were eager to re-establish their value in an increasingly laboratory-based world. Prominent naturalists such as Ernst Mayr managed to get geneticists and statisticians to agree that evolution could take place on three levels: in molecules; in the flow of genes through populations; and in the environmental world of organisms undergoing competition and natural selection. In 1942, Julian Huxley invented the phrase ‘modern synthesis’ to combine genetics with natural selection, and Mayr’s key work within this synthesis, Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Columbia Univ. Press), was published.In addition, the Darwinites “in effect created modern Darwinism by emphatically rejecting any form of Lamarckism” in the context of the cold war:In 1959, socialist Russia had only recently withdrawn from Lamarckism in genetics, and the idea was strongly associated in US minds with the cold-war struggle. The delegates also rejected the idea that the fossil record shows signs of directed evolution, and expanded Darwinian thought to cover the evolution of mind and behaviour. During the conference, Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, gave a secular sermon in the style of his grandfather, and provocatively declared that religious belief was merely a biological feature of evolving mankind.This was about the same time, contrary to many people’s impressions, that the Darwin Finch story became a prop for evolutionary theory. Mayr and Huxley had encouraged David Lack to spend time in the Galapagos observing the finches. “It was only after this … that the finches sketched by Darwin became collectively known as Darwin’s finches, and were held up as the first and most remarkable evidence of evolution in real organisms in a natural setting.”So instead of being spontaneous occasions to appreciate a universally-accepted hero of science, previous Darwin celebrations, Browne argued, were political ploys by advocates with an agenda. The question becomes, will history repeat itself in 2009?But biologists will also surely use the occasion, once again, to affirm the truth and elegance of Darwinism in the face of criticism, this time from those who prefer a creationist view of the world. Evolution by natural selection has suddenly become a highly contentious idea, especially in the United States. Creationist proponents abound in the US school-board system, opinion polls highlight the public’s belief in a divine origin for humankind, and ideas about intelligent design are widely circulated. Against this, Darwin has become the figurehead for rational, secular science, and Darwinism the main target of the fundamentalist movement spreading across the globe. Attacks extend beyond arguments over the Bible. To criticize Darwinism is a forceful way to express anxieties about the growing power of modern science and the perceived decline of moral values in society. To try to poke holes in Darwin’s argument is to express dislike not just for evolutionary theory but also for science itself. There is some irony in this situation. Looking back to Darwin’s funeral in 1882, Darwin’s Christian qualities, his stature as a man of truth and honesty, were brought to the fore. He was celebrated as a man whose religious doubts were an integral part of his wisdom and insight; few critics made personal attacks on his social virtues. Now, his heroism in modern science is seen by many as an offence to religious values. It goes to show just how diversely Darwin and his theory have been perceived and used over the years. Browne, author also of the award-winning biography Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002),2 quipped in conclusion, “Darwin himself would surely be amazed by how differently we have chosen to celebrate his anniversaries.”1. Janet Browne, “Birthdays to remember,” Nature 456, 324-325 (20 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456324a. This article requires a subscription.2. Search on the keywords “Janet Browne” for quotations from this outstanding book in previous entries.shed the light all around.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

French web TV channel La Chaîne Techno has launche

first_imgFrench web TV channel La Chaîne Techno has launched on cable operator Numericable’s Replay on-demand service.Presented by new technologies enthusiasts Jérôme Colombain of France Info and François Sorel of RMC/BFM, La Chaîne Techno airs programmes on new high-tech products, interviews with industry players and other tech-related topics.Numericable is making the service available as part of the Replay service on its LaBox offering.last_img