PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – No West Indies player will be forced to travel on the tour of England if they feel uncomfortable with arrangements, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive Johnny Grave has said.“We definitely will respect any player’s decision who for whatever reason doesn’t want to tour,” Grave said last weekend.“There will be absolutely no victimisation whatsoever. Clearly if a player doesn’t tour then it creates an opportunity for someone else to come in and represent the West Indies, and they would have their chance to play England in three Test matches and cement their place in the side.”A 25-man side is expected to be announced this week for the tour of England which will see the Caribbean playing three Tests starting July 8.The tour has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic which has already resulted in nearly 278 000 infections and nearly 40 000 deaths across the United Kingdom.For the first time, a cricket series will be played at bio-secure facilities with strict, quarantine, social-distancing and sanitisation protocols employed throughout.Grave said players had been included in the ongoing discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board, and their input had been invaluable.“The players have had lots of questions and rightly so about trying to understand what is completely new to sport and completely new to them as cricketers, in terms of what the environment will be like,” Grave explained.“Obviously seven weeks is a relatively long tour … and they wanted to know exactly where they were going to be, how they were going to be tested, what there would be at the hotel in terms of facilities and amenities and also for some downtime, and what they could do outside of just training and playing cricket and what facilities and entertainment options would be available to them in the hotel.“(They also wanted to know) what happens if one of them gets, not necessarily ill from COVID-19, but if they get sick or injured and what are the options. There’s an enormous amount of detailed work that has gone into this tour, not just by the England and Wales Cricket Board but by our medical practitioners here in the Caribbean.”The tour was initially scheduled for May but had to be postponed with the UK hard hit by COVID-19 and the ECB forced to delay its entire domestic programme.But anxious to avoid a cricket blackout of cricket during the summer, ECB has managed to convince West Indies, along with Pakistan, to follow through on previously planned tours.While critics have said the tour involves too many risks and little reward, Grave said it was important to CWI from a playing and commercial branding standpoint.“This is a big tour for England financially but it’s still an important tour for us and an important tour for our number one sponsors and huge supporters in Sandals Resorts, so it’s not fair to say there’s nothing in it for Cricket West Indies,” he stressed.“And for the players, they’re desperate to get back playing and get back training so it’s an opportunity for them to go and defend the Wisden Trophy they did so well to win back in 2019.”West Indies are scheduled to leave the Caribbean next Tuesday.
It wasn’t like Dan Haren was all about the money earlier in his career. At every single stage of his 12 years in the big leagues, winning trumped everything else.But he’d be lying if he didn’t admit there was a financial stake in pitching well.It all went hand in hand.By establishing himself as an upper-echelon major-league pitcher, he better positioned his team to win baseball games. The more he did that, the better the chance for a big payday. By all accounts, Haren accomplished his goals. By his third season, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, a distinction that will translate to approximately $71 million in earnings by the end of his current contract.Objective met.All of which makes the 33-year-old right-hander just like every professional athlete who has ever laced up a pair of high tops or spikes.You play to win the game. And to make a living.At this stage of his career, he could easily dismiss a bad start or rough outing.But if anything, failure is harder to stomach more than ever.After starring at Bishop Amat High and Pepperdine University, Haren has been an All-Star, a Cy Young Candidate and a staff ace. And he’s got enough money to last a lifetime and beyond.Life hasn’t just worked out. It’s exceeded his wildest dreams.Yet the angst he carries around when he doesn’t deliver is more pronounced now than at any other time.He should be embracing the good times and brushing off the bad.But he can’t.“At this stage of my career, the losses hurt more than the wins feel good,” said Haren, whose suffered plenty of pain this year while enduring a devastating five-game losing streak in which he provided the Dodgers with little chance to compete.It got so bad Haren was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation.But losing his job had nothing on the anguish he felt being a liability to the Dodgers rather than the asset they needed him to be. “It’s not fun going out there and getting pummeled every night for like, a month straight basically, and coming to the park miserable every day,” Haren said. “That’s no way to live.” For the moment anyway, Haren seems to have straightened himself out. His seven-inning, three-hit, one-run outing against the Mets over the weekend was his third solid performance over his past four starts, providing the Dodgers some stability in the back end of their rotation and Haren some much-needed peace of mind.“Positive reinforcement is always good,” said Haren, who has been progressively locating his curveball and fastball better and minimizing use of his cutter. “Now I can go into my next start feeling really good and try to keep this thing going.”At the very least, it beats the anxiety he was dealing with during the losing streak.Again, you’d think he’d be better equipped to let the rough times roll off his back after accomplishing everything he has over his career.Actually, it’s anything but.“It also makes the losing even harder,” Haren said. “When I was going through my rough stretch earlier, there were times I was doubting why I was even doing this.” You’d have a field day with all that if your professional title ended with an M.D., but the pop psychologist in Haren suggests it probably has more to do with what he doesn’t have than anything he does.He no longer pitchers for baseball cred or to secure a life-altering contract.Been there, done that.He just wants to do his job at a high level and help the Dodgers win. Even as he creeps closer to the 180 innings needed to trigger the $10-million dollar option on his 2015 contract, money is of little significance.“It may sound stupid, but who knows if I’ll even want to play next year?” Haren said. “I’d rather throw 179 2/3 innings and us win the division, honestly. I’ve made enough money in my life. I’ve been blessed. My kids’ kids hopefully are set up. That’s a lot of money. I don’t want to devalue that and sound like a snob, but I mean, my goal is for this team to achieve what we set out to.” Point is, the only motivation now is hold up his end of the bargain on a winning team. “I have to be able to step up,” Haren said. “That’s what they brought me here to do.”And when that objective isn’t met every fifth day, it’s excruciating.The key is compartmentalizing those emotions in order get the job done.That’s easier said than done.“There’s always the self-doubt element that comes into play. It happens to even the best of them,” Haren said.“I realize at this stage of my career, I’m not an elite starting pitcher anymore. But even if a guy like Clayton Kershaw had a few bad games, he’s going to doubt his stuff and himself. That’s just natural. For me, you’ve got to also, when the good stuff happens, enjoy those too,“You can’t just beat yourself up over the bad ones.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error