May 27, 2009

Michael Jeh

An effortless loss

Michael Jeh



A few months ago I wrote a piece that questioned the role of the coach, especially in relation to John Dyson and the West Indies when they cocked up the Duckworth Lewis formula in that ODI a few months ago.

Last night, against my better instincts (yet again), I stayed up to watch the West Indies chase a challenging 329 target set by England at Edgbaston. I never really expected them to win but I figured that the chase would be short and entertaining with players like Gayle, Bravo, Sarwan, Chanderpaul etc playing like millionaires in pursuit of a 6+ rpo target on a good pitch. After all, commonsense would dictate that they had no choice but to play shots and keep playing shots until the very end. I figured they might be bowled out for 220 in the 35th over, well worth sacrificing a few hours of sleep to watch some dazzling strokeplay.

Wrong. In hindsight, I should have just switched off and gone to bed as soon as Gayle and Sarwan were dismissed early doors. What was subsequently dished up for the next 46 overs was an absolute waste of time (apart from a brief cameo from the admirable Bravo). It showed total contempt for the viewing public. It was an exercise in cynicism to watch a team just bat 50 overs with no genuine intention of trying to win. At a time when the 50 over game is under threat from the T20 mania that is sweeping the game, the West Indies did everything possible to undermine the integrity of international ODI cricket.

More to the point, it made me realise that Dyson probably has no influence on team tactics or has no idea of what it means. I’m not sure who controls the dynamic in the dressing room but whoever it is, Gayle or Dyson, they are clearly out of their depth when it comes to understanding what it takes to try to win a game of cricket. Or they just don’t care. Perhaps both.

Chanderpaul’s innings, after a brisk start, disintegrated into something that almost defied belief. In the context of an asking rate that never got below 6.5 runs per over, his performance was almost like he was making a silent protest at being left to shoulder the batting responsibilities yet again. It’s not like he was trying to smash the ball and kept missing – no, he just went through a 25 over patch when he made no effort to do anything but push singles. It was astounding to watch the required rate climbing whilst Chanderpaul, capable of playing some stunning shots, seemingly oblivious to the game situation. Even Denesh Ramdin who scored at run-a-ball and has a more limited arsenal of strokes was too slow in the context of a run rate that required much more intent than pushing singles.

The final straw for one sleepy, grumpy spectator on a winter’s night in Australia was to keep waiting for the final powerplay in the hope that it would spark some sort of action. My justification for refusing to go to bed was twisted logic: having stayed up this long, I’d be disappointed if old Chanders exploded in the powerplay (as we know he can) and I missed it. So I waited. And waited. And waited.

I’m still struggling to understand Dyson or Gayle’s rationale for delaying the powerplay until the run rate was almost 12 runs per over. Perhaps they had honestly gone beyond caring. It’s been a tough, cold tour and maybe they’ve just lost interest. What other explanation can there be for rational, intelligent people to be blind to the bleeding obvious. What possible reason could there have been for not taking the powerplay earlier when it was a mere 8 runs per over and there was even the faintest hope of changing the momentum of the game?

As it turned out, my 6 year old son heard the television in the lounge room and sleepily crawled into my lap and watched about ten minutes of the game before asking me: “Dad, why haven’t they taken the powerplay yet? Are they really trying to win?”

It took him just ten minutes to figure it out. I wish I’d asked him earlier!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

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Posted by srinivas on (June 2, 2009, 6:58 GMT)

hi..i hope dwanye smith does not go the route of ricardo powell.. sad to see him in the sidelines

Posted by Michael Jeh on (May 31, 2009, 22:27 GMT)

Hi SanjayN. I never get to see your comments until they are posted on the site so I'm afraid I have no idea why they did not get published. Sorry mate.

Posted by Gerard on (May 29, 2009, 11:34 GMT)

Considering the captain has made it clear that he doesn't give a toss about West Indies cricket, it's hardly surprising that the overall attitude of the team is so apathetic. As Frank Worrell, Michael Vaughan and Allan Border have proved, a team's success starts with the captain. It's hardly surprising the team doesn't do everything possible to win with a mercenary like Gayle in charge.

Posted by Riverlime on (May 29, 2009, 11:04 GMT)

Just wait, Mr. Jeh. Losing a manufactured series in icy weather when your hearts are not in it is no indication of ability. Playing a worthwhile tournament is a different matter. Keep an eye open for Pollard to come good, giving a performance commensurate with his HUGE talent. He is capable of making even Bravo look geriatric. Remember, he only just turned 22. And there's still Dwayne Smith on the fringes, peering in. Don't worry, Michael. Cricket's coming home. (It's spiritual home can only be in the West Indies, like Brazil and football).

Posted by Errol Erskine on (May 29, 2009, 7:09 GMT)

Hi Mike good piece, I am a die hard West Indian and it is very hard to watch these guys who plays as if they do not have ANY national pride.Since the mess up that Dyson made and give away the first oneday in the WI which give a beaten English team some confidence I have been calling for him to quit as his team seems to be good at doing.I do hope they do much better in the 20/20

Posted by davo on (May 29, 2009, 1:10 GMT)

everyone is saying why chanderpaul didnt up the run rate but wickets were fallin @ d other end,wat else is he supposed 2 do?jus hit out & let windies get bowled out for 50?after all,its about saving face if u cant win.shivnarine chanderpaul is one of the greatest cricketers that quite often get cricised for batting 2 slow but for the last decade,he's always come in after a very brief blitz from gayle & a failure from his other opening partner & he's always had the burden of rebuilding.when marlon samuels comes back 2 windies side im sure chanderpaul wil open the batting wit gayle & we'll all see why this man has the 4th fastest test century & also the man that recently smashed 26 runs off an hapless steve harmison over right here in guyana.everyone wil see the blitzing chanderpaul in this year's T20 World Cup

Posted by Doug Newsam on (May 29, 2009, 0:31 GMT)

Sorry that you lost some sleep. Chanders just did what he has done for some time, play for Cahnders average and stats. He pays little attention to what the team needs he just intends to bat and build his average which matches Viv Richards! Batting with the tail he exposes them many times so that he remains notout. His reputation as a "great" batsman is sadly misplaced. The WI blame everyone but the team which is the only entity actually playing cricket. I believe that with Gayle as captain there is little that Dyson can do to influence decisions. His job is fruitless yet he will be blamed for the team failures like those in his position before him. It must be the worst job in world cricket.

Posted by Mohamed Z. Rahaman (Breado) on (May 28, 2009, 21:44 GMT)

Couple of observations. 1. Shiv, Sarwan and many others do not make millions. In fact, Siv, Sarwan and a few others never got their million $$ from Stanford. 2. This series was not originally in the WI plan. The players were too tired for Test and ODI's after just completing and winning the test series at home. There was bound to be a letdown playing and defending the wisden trophy so soon after. 3. They were askes to play early in a VERY COLD England - something that very few of them have experienced (not many of them play county Cricket in Eng). 4. Ask Why did SL pull out and that maybe the clue as to why WI also should not have played. 5. As a West Indian diehard fan, I did not care for this series. What is a 2 Test series anyway? This whole thing was a concoction for an England win to boost the Ashes series. WI were the sacrificial lambs. 6. Australia played NZ and lost (couple of years ago) the same as WI just did - because "they were tired." No one complained then.

Posted by Arshad Khan on (May 28, 2009, 16:34 GMT)

Both England and WI are unpredictable. I will never ever bet on these two teams again. One lost in a toothless manner after putting up a good show at home just a mont or so ago and the other one struck 328 while their original scoring strength would be no more than 235. Turns out, I lost both "fancy" and the match! Well done England and West Indies for reversing the roles and making me bite the dust! One advice to punters: never bet for or against these two teams in T20 world cup or you end up a loser like me :-)

Posted by SanjayN on (May 28, 2009, 16:24 GMT)

Michael, I don't see my comments on Shiv Chanderpaul. Were they too strong? It's not the WI Board that's the issue, the players are responsible for the performance on the field. The fans and players have a convenient excuse in blaming off-field parties but they should look at what goes on the field of play.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Jeh
Born in Colombo, educated at Oxford and now living in Brisbane, Michael Jeh (Fox) is a cricket lover with a global perspective on the game. An Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, he is a Playing Member of the MCC and still plays grade cricket. Michael now works closely with elite athletes, and is passionate about youth intervention programmes. He still chases his boyhood dream of running a wildlife safari operation called Barefoot in Africa.

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