Reality Check For West Indies Cricket
If the 2007 World Cup failure was the latest lesson West Indies
Cricket did not learn about the requirements for success in international
competition, the humiliation wrought from the Twenty20 edition should
hammer hard on the consciousness of new President Julian Hunte.
If he is serious about the team doing well and knows anything about
professional sport, he would never allow another ill-prepared team
go on suicide mission, like the current squad experienced in South
Hunte and the other decision makers on the West Indies Cricket Board
(WICB), some of whom have hands-on experience, enjoyed immensely
the success of the teams of the late 1970s and 1980s, like every
other West Indian. And they should know that the key to that success
was the professional approach those teams instilled in everything
they did before and after competitions.
These days the current players seem oblivious to or do not want
to know what it means to be professional in their work.
And the WICB is not helping them one bit.
The team that failed to win any matches and got knocked out, first
round of the current Twenty20 World Cup is a prime example of the
administrative negligence that is the main cause for West Indies
being left stuck in the doldrums of world cricket.
With no preparation whatsoever, the squad boarded their flight and
before you could say six runs, was heading back home, courtesy of
thrashings from South Africa and Bangladesh.
It is no coincidence, West Indies lost both games with two overs
to spare, which in regular ODI competition, is not too bad but in
this latest 20 overs version, is a sound whipping.
And you don’t have to be a Clive Lloyd to figure out that
the defeats were due to nothing but poor fitness that amounted to
rustiness in the field.
Appalling fielding and wild bowling ruined sparkling batting efforts
in both games.
You don’t drop batsmen on the rampage in Twenty20 competition
and escape with it. In this form of competition, the slightest slipup
costs dearly and West Indies paid for letting off Herchelle Gibbs
twice and Mohammad Ashraful once.
Those two players went on to bat South Africa and Bangladesh respectively
to victories and left West Indies on a shameful early return trip
home Dropped catches are part of the game, they happen now and again,
but when you put down three vital chances in successive games, you
are asking for trouble. Sloppy ground fielding did not help as were
the spate of wides and no-balls the bowlers were incapable of avoiding.
Were the players sharp from a preparatory camp, you would hardly
see Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, two of the team's best
fielders, grassing sitters. Nor would you have bowlers unable to
hold their concentration to bowl on the right side of the pitch.
Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan had called for a camp before the competition
and got none.
Yet he reportedly said players were shaping up very well before
departure. But deep inside you got the impression Sarwan knew the
team was not ready to win because, he said as much when he reportedly
favored Australia and South Africa to take home the spoils on the
It highlighted one of the differences between himself and Chris
Gayle - who captained the team during the designated skipper's injury-
induced absence for the England limited series.
Gayle does not beat about the bush, he says it like it is, publicly
and privately. His criticism of the WICB for the said lack of professionalism
in dealing with the team's needs, said it all. Even when he was
threatened by the then president, he refused to apologize and backed
up his words by leading the team to victory.
Now that the team has been disgraced, the new captain has to face
the fire after being handed a team that doesn’t even seem
to have the fielding coach they had in England, or the specialist
bowling coach every other team has. Instead the technical team continues
to comprise a head coach and one assistant, who both seem to specialize
It is a sad irony that a nation of such rich tradition has come
to such a sorry pass, where a relative newcomer like Bangladesh
could embarrass West Indies, not only on the field but also in their
seriousness of approach to competition. After the so-called minnows’
six-wicket victory Ashraful credited their intense preparation that
comprised one month of commando training.
Their progression to the Super Eight stage is Bangladesh’s
And no doubt the same type of intense preparation could be talked
about by all the other qualifiers.
What hurts so terribly bad is to see West Indies mired in mediocrity,
simply because the abundant natural ability that could be honed
to unimaginable levels of achievement, is being left in the rough.
Gayle's spectacular century against South Africa is an example of
the physical prowess that is not being maximized fully, as is the
hitting ability of Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels or the pace bowling
attributes of Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor.
Now that West Indies is heading back home along with the likes of
Scotland, Kenya and Zimbabwe, it will be interesting to see the
type of support they get for their next engagement in three month’s
time, back there in South Africa.
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