West Indies in England 2009 May 22, 2009

Searching for consolation

West Indies now find themselves in another bilateral ODI series, seeking compensation for a thrashing in the two Tests, both lost by embarrassing margins

When West Indies were last in England in 2007, they enjoyed the consolation of a 2-1 triumph in the three ODIs that followed their 3-0 defeat in the four Tests.

Three years before that, the effect of England's 4-0 clean sweep of the Tests was assuaged by an unlikely and wildly celebrated victory over England in the ICC Champions Trophy at the end of the season.

West Indies now find themselves in a similar position for another bilateral ODI series, seeking compensation for a similar thrashing in the Tests, only two on this occasion, but both lost by embarrassing margins.

The second World Twenty20 follows immediately, offering further opportunity to at least take something from a tour for which the players, more especially captain Chris Gayle, were obviously not mentally prepared.

After the euphoria of the hard-fought victory in the preceding contest in the Caribbean that reclaimed the Wisden Trophy after nine years in England's hands, the outcome of the belatedly-arranged, if lucrative, mini-series here has undermined growing confidence.

Success now, even at a different level, will be a pick-me-up.

The frigid, damp English weather that has darkened West Indies' mood even further throughout the tour followed them from miserable Chester-le-Street to Leeds, denying them even a chance of kick-starting a revival in the first ODI at Headingley on Thursday.

Not a ball was bowled after the kind of downpours overnight and in the morning well known to Trinidadians in rainy season.

The downpours left the outfield, recently re-laid for just such an eventuality at a cost of 600,000 pounds six months ago, so sodden the match was abandoned after a 3 pm inspection by the umpires, even after the sky had cleared and bright sunshine bathed the ground.

It was a disappointment to the players, as much as the few thousand who had braved the elements in the hope of at least some cricket.

There were enthusiastic West Indians even keener than others to get going. Ravi Rampaul, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo arrived on Monday specially for the ODIs and the Twenty20s. Darren Sammy had waited in the wings through the Tests, knowing his role is as short-game specialist.

Bravo is back following the operation on his increasingly painful left ankle eight months ago. His all-round ability and his uninhibited fervour make him as essential to the team, whatever the format, as Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards and Ramnaresh Sarwan. He has been sorely missed in nine Tests, 11 ODIs and a couple of Twenty20s.

Why he was not in England for the two Tests but could be simultaneously doing his thing for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL in South Africa remains the kind of mystery now commonplace in West Indies cricket.

Why Runako Morton is here is another. His long record of indiscipline stretches back to his expulsion from the now defunct academy eight years ago through myths about deceased grandmothers to his most recent episode of violence that led to his suspension by the Leewards for fighting with a team-mate last season.

His days as an international cricketer were at an end in any case. To recall him now, as a late replacement for the injured Dale Richards, perpetuates the modern impression in West Indies cricket that discipline doesn't matter.

The remaining two ODIs are scheduled for Bristol on Sunday and Edgbaston on Monday in what forecasters promise will be sunny, warmer weather. That, and a couple of corresponding victories, would cheer everyone up.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years