West Indies In World Cup Quandary
By Orin Davidson
West Indies left India this week still searching for answers
they sought before arriving on the sub continent in preparation
for the World Cup.
The four-match series was intended to be the final rehearsal
before the Caribbean squad plays host to the world’s
Instead the management is still in a quandary after a disappointing
On the contrary the results gave India the ideal medicine
for its ailing squad less than six weeks before the ultimate
test starts in the Caribbean.
After enjoying one of their best runs in the shorter form
of the game for the majority of 2006, West Indies wobbled
at the finish and are now back to square one.
Following two impressive runners up finishes to perennial
World champs Australia in the Champions Trophy and Malaysia
Cup, which preceded a 4-1 humiliation of India at home, West
Indies seemingly hinted at a revival just in the nick of time.
It was irrefutable proof of the team’s potential to
be among the best in the world in limited overs competition.
But when it mattered most West Indies played true to form.
Their inconsistencies of the past returned and the jitters
in the final rush for form on the World Cup’s homestretch
touched almost every supporter.
They floundered 3-1 Pakistan and capitulated to India by an
identical margin before a frenzied nation who was on the verge
of hysteria most of 2006.
Yet from this distance the West Indians gave the impression
of a team suffering the effects of over exposure. Many seemed
drained from the thousands of miles of air travel and competition
After two months of fixtures hosting Zimbabwe and Pakistan
at home and another two months contesting the Champions Trophy,
Malaysia Cup followed by the International Cricket Council’s
(ICC) stipulated series in Pakistan, they seemed to have had
enough by the time they flew home for Christmas, contested
a few Carib Cup and KFC regional games, and then traversed
the Atlantic and India oceans back to the sub continent.
By that time though they started feeling the consequences.
Vice captain Ronnie Sarwan was stricken by a broken instep,
captain Lara’s back and knee started acting up and Shiv
Chanderpaul’s old injuries woes seemed to be returning.
After overcoming frequent illness early in his career, Chanderpaul
found himself with a double whammy of knee and shoulder problems
by the time he regained his appetite for runs in India.
Strike bowler Jerome Taylor had enough energy only to go through
the motions, a far cry from the danger man tag he exhibited
in the Champions Trophy.
Pakistan and India capitalized as a result.
In his haste to live up to his lofty reputation in Trinidad
and Tobago and place the finances in a comfort zone, new West
Indies Cricket Board President Ken Gordon finds himself in
danger of shooting himself in the foot with his overuse of
Player burnout has been the Achilles heel of many sports administrators
in the past and the jury is still out on Gordon’s actions
this time around.
Whether it was wise to push the players to the hilt, so close
to a major competition, will be known in time.
Ironically while the India series was ongoing, the selectors
were forced to turn to the Regional competitions to overcome
their dilemma, less than two weeks before the final selection
While wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin did little to enhance his
status in Asia, one of his younger Trinidad and Tobago compatriots
was setting the Region ablaze with runs that would make any
One Day team proud.
Nineteen year-old Kieron Pollard was only known in the junior
ranks before making his first class debut last month. He was
a member of the disappointing West Indies team than only managed
sixth place in the Under-19 World Cup one year ago in Sri
Now he is a valuable component of the Trinidad and Tobago
senior team chasing titles in the Carib and KFC series.
He has struck more sixes than anyone in several years so far
in this season and scores at electric pace with authentic
cricket strokes. It has resulted in back to back debut centuries
and a number of half centuries at the season’s half
No member of the current West Indies except the legendary
Lara, made as explosive an impact on debut and the WICB selectors
will be loathe to exclude Pollard from their 15-man squad.
If Pollard’s impact was unexpected, the resurgence of
Jermaine Lawson is a pleasant surprise. The once destructive
fast bowler is now back to his best after injury and delivery
action problems the past few years caused a decline. Now,
his form should make him a shoo-in for the West Indies final
He is by far the leading wicket taker this season, highlighted
by back to back six and seven wicket hauls in the Carib Cup
and his wicket-taking capabilities should be the ideal pairing
for Taylor, even in One Day competition.
As the West Indies selectors scratch their heads, their Indian
counterparts are licking their lips with glee with the emergence
of Robin Uthappa and resurgence of Sourav Ganguly and Ajit
Uthappa seems capable of blunting any pace attack with his
aggression on top of the order and an ideal replacement for
Virenda Sehwag. Ganguly is back to his best in the middle
and Agarkar is finding his best wicket taking form with the
If he had a choice, at this stage, Gordon Greenidge should
gladly swap places with Dilip Vensarkar as chief selector
of the two nations.
Davidson Column Homepage