Mike Holmans May 26, 2009

Gayle must go

The West Indies turned up like teenagers to a cinema showing “Bowlers of the Living Dead”, expecting to be scared out of their wits

In March 1986, Graham Gooch’s 129* off 117 balls just got England over the line in what was reduced to a 37-over ODI against West Indies. Earlier in the tour, they had recorded their other victory by winning a four-day game against Jamaica. They lost the five Tests and the other two ODIs by massive margins, as well as four-day games against the Windward Islands and Barbados, and weren’t exactly impressive in the four-day games against the Leewards or Trinidad.

What we have just witnessed was as one-sided as the slaughters to which England were subjected twenty-odd years ago.

Back then, all we had to go on were the reports in the papers and the live radio commentary . The captain was David Gower, regularly pilloried along the lines of his being horizontal were he any more laid-back. The tabloids especially delighted in using words like “spineless” and accused the team of failing to try and of lacking guts or pride, and stopped only marginally short of calling for the ritual disembowelment of the captain as prelude to flaying alive the rest of the squad on their shameful return home. Sound familiar?

I could not then accept that the England players were quite as contemptible as the reports said. The charge which could be laid against them was defeatism: they were beaten before they even got on the plane because they expected to lose, which sure enough they went ahead and did.

After the Test series in the Caribbean, Chris Gayle intimated to several of the press party that the prospect of a swinging ball in a cold English May was not one that he or his players were relishing. The West Indies turned up like teenagers to a cinema showing “Bowlers of the Living Dead”, expecting to be scared out of their wits. It is to England’s credit that they largely managed to make the fantasy all too real. Anderson delivered high-class swing at pace, and if Stuart Broad’s command of the bouncer is not as sure as Joel Garner’s was, Ramnaresh Sarwan is unlikely to feel much like arguing the toss over it. And then there was the horror of Swann, all the worse for being unexpected.

I hope that’s what happened, anyway. I don’t want to live in a world where the failure of Shivnarine Chanderpaul to average 100 in a series can be used as evidence that he is not trying his damnedest for the team the way he has done throughout his infernally dogged career. I don’t want to believe that the younger players in the West Indies team aren’t storing away their hurt with a resolution that one day they will be stronger and better-equipped to make England pay.

Part of England’s problem in 1986 was that their captain was a rational man whose realism led him to the conclusion that his team were not good enough to win and was unable to pretend to them that they could. He was replaced later that year by Mike Gatting, the kind of optimist who believes that both sides start the game at 0 for 0 and either team can win. The following winter, Gatting’s team - which couldn’t bat, bowl or field - won the Ashes.

Chris Gayle’s brand of leadership is not what West Indies now need: they need someone who will lead a charge over the top in even a hopeless cause. The obvious choice is Dwayne Bravo, but an Englishman is bound to point to Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff as evidence that charismatic, swashbuckling all-rounders do not necessarily make good skippers. So why not Fidel Edwards?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on June 23, 2009, 5:40 GMT

    Boom Boom Afridi...played excellent

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    Mike, I did not gloat over the recent debacle at Sabina Park [bowled out for 51 in fair conditions, climate wise] I have never gloated over those years of dominance, no, Irealised that it was part of the cycle. WE WERE LURED TO BE FODDER FOR ENGLAND AS PART OF THEIR ASHES PREPARATION. [Agnew was correct, the coditions we were exposed to were not designed to promote top class performance; rather to encourge hands in pocket without playing with dirt. Suddenly barbs are flying all over...we took no pot shots at Kevin, we can still acknowledge his genius, we will not be judgemental with respect to Strauss, it is early days yet. I RECOGNISED THE TALENTS AND PROFESSIOALISM OF THE ALL CONQUERING AUSSIES BUT FOUND THEIR ARROGANCE, SLEDGING AND BULLYING OF UMPIRES A BITTER PILL, SO FOR YEARS I SUPPORTED THE OTHER TEAM THEY WERE PLAYING. Now for the coming Ashes contest I will be free to enjoy without prejudice. No malice to any, Norm Oneil, the Chappels, Compton,Hutton, Botham favourites.

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2009, 16:56 GMT

    Once upon a time, cricket wa the "gentlmen's game"; now, it's the bookies' game - period.

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    Did anybody ever think to appoint Ramnaresh Sarwan as west indian captain, well when he was name captain a few years back he had alot stipulation to go with it, and even when he was injure the WICB replaced him as Gail as leader, then reappoint him as vice captain to Gail, yes chris is a fantastic player, but i think Sars should get a fair chance to lead the west INDIES in the future tours, management should get a grip of their act and pull themselves together for the betterment of WI cricket as a whole.jus let sit back and see what the WI going to do in the World T20 in Endland, hope they can perform and us the West Indies people something to talk about, GOOD LUCK to the WEST INDIES TEAM in England, hope u guys make us proud region.

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 23:17 GMT

    The idea that part of England's problem in the West Indies in 1986 was their captain is wrong, I think. He had just captained England to the Ashes in England in 1985. Gatting was able to win the Ashes in Australia in 86-87 because Australia was such a bad side at the time. Does noone remember their being bowled out by an injured Ian Botham at Melbourne? Gatting had already captained England to a series loss and draw (I think) against India and New Zealand in England in 1986. England lost to the West Indies in the West Indies because, at the time, West Indies had such a fantastic side. No one beat them.

    [Mike: "Part" of the problem, not the whole problem. A leader needs to communicate some enthusiasm even when he has a weak team, or they are liable to subside without showing any real resistance.]

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 20:16 GMT

    I agree with (Breado) 100%. WICB cannot pay their players a reasonable sum per match, and when some of them are given the opportunity to make real money playing in the IPL, the WICB tries to blunt their moves and agrees with England to stage this 2 match series. The cost to send a team to England for such a short series must have cost a tidy sum, I wonder how much the WICB made on that deal, did they clear expenses? It is time that WICB treat their players with respect, either pay them well when they are playing, or allow them in their off time to seek other avenues to make some money.

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 16:54 GMT

    As usual various Indian smartasses queue up to make negative comments about anything to do with England. For once they're right. The series in the WI and the return series here were disasters for Test cricket. There was no tension in the WIs as batsmen racked up effortless hundreds which told us nothing (is Strauss really that good?). The conditions here were appalling and have also told us little, except that two-Test series so early in the season are a farce. Yes, the ECB and WICB are responsible for some very poor Tests. Can you imagine that the IPL seriously contemplated staging their competition here? In a freezing May? Even the IPL would have struggled. As for the Indian comments re Test cricket, remember that you did not mind England turning up at Chennai in January and, although we lost, it was very competitive and enthralling cricket - a proper Test match.

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I am a diehard Test cricket fan, watching TC that is played all over the world from my chair in Minnesota, US and let me tell you for me this WI-ENG series never happened in England. I followed the series in WI, as that was a proper series. This 2 match series was shoehorned only so as to fulfill a stupid contract by SKY to have 6 Test matches in an English summer. Mr.Holmans, I appreciate the effort you produce to make your articles interesting but sadly your facts are based on hearsay on most occasions. England Team will get to know what real cricket is once Australia arrives, not that Aussies are doing great either. As for Bravo and Gayle captaincy issues and your singing,” death of test cricket", cricket itself is done to death in England with the Pro 40 , Pro 50 T20 First Class Leagues. There is just too much cricket on offer to make it a quality product and till that happens, the crowd will not flock in.

    P.S.Your articles draw the maximum flak,any reason why? Think about it

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    Kristen is wrong... couple of years ago Australia lost to NZ because as they all said; "it too much cricket, we are tired and we realy don't want to play". Well they were official matches played, and Australia lost to a far inferior NZ team as the records would show. So to guaranteee that the Aussie capt would not do the same as Gayle is not true, because it happened 2 years ago. And you are wrong about SL. The SL board did it because they know that they cannot afford the kind of money the IPL pays and if they did this to make the players happy. A happy player is a better Test player.

  • testli5504537 on May 27, 2009, 15:43 GMT

    This is a lot of popycock nonsense. This series was doomed from the beginning and believe me, none in the WI (players and/or fans) had any interest. The WICB took agred to this series for the money. It's not easy coming from a hot climate to play in the cold, especially when so few WI players play in Eng these days. Then to only play 2 tests series after a limited warm up. Come on.. this was a set up for an England win to boost the upcoming Ashes series. SL and other teams backed out to let their players enjoy some rest and for the top players to play in the IPL and make the kind of $$ that they cannot make playing in test matches. It was as meaningless a series as you can get. Boohoo to Eng. for winning a series that wasn't. The WI boys just won in the WI and 2 weeks later had to defend... in the cold wet Eng. conditions. Noone wanted to be there no the WI players, not the WI fans. I did not even listen and I am a diehard. This is what's killing Test Cricket... not 20/20.

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