2010 Review

No step backwards

For which West Indies will be thankful, considering the woeful last few years. The successful hosting of the World Twenty20 and the emergence of young talent also made 2010 memorable

Garth Wattley

December 31, 2010

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

Chris Gayle celebrates after reaching his triple-century, Sri Lanka v West Indies, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day, November 16, 2010
In spite of having turned down a central contract this year, Chris Gayle remains a vital component of West Indies cricket © AFP
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Late monsoon rains did not give West Indies or Sri Lanka much room to manoeuvre in December. Their three-match Test series ended as it had begun: 0-0.

The year 2010 as a whole was much like that for West Indies cricket. That rain-assisted drawn series in Sri Lanka may have allowed the Caribbean side to edge ahead of New Zealand to seventh spot in the ICC Test rankings. However, like early-morning moisture that gives hope to the bowling team but really masks the hard work ahead of them once the sun gets to work, that "improvement" was cosmetic. Like through all of the last decade, West Indies cricket gained little ground in 2010.

In a light Test programme, they were beaten in two of three matches at home by South Africa before going to Sri Lanka for a stalemate. In between, in what has more recently been considered their stronger suit, West Indies, under Chris Gayle, won just three out of 10 Twenty20 matches. Those wins - against Ireland, England and India - both came at the World Twenty20, which they hosted. They failed to get to the semi-finals but West Indians could at least console themselves that unlike the World Cup of 2007, this one was truly a Caribbean party.

In one-day internationals, both the Aussies (4-0 away) and the South Africans (5-0 at home) dominated West Indies. Zimbabwe won their first matches on Caribbean soil - the only Twenty20 and the first match of the ODI series of their tour. A jittery West Indies eventually prevailed 4-1.

Through it all presided Otis Gibson, the team's fourth coach since 2003. The former West Indies fast bowler and England bowling coach took over at the start of the year from the sacked Australian John Dyson. But like Dyson and another Aussie, Bennett King before him, Gibson had to contend with unrelenting issues, namely team instability.

The team's first-choice fast bowlers, Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards, both sidelined by long-term injuries, were badly missed. Edwards did not play at all, and Taylor did not feature in the Tests. Injury and then being left out due to on his supposed lack of fitness also eliminated senior batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan from Test action. These key absences meant that Gibson, Gayle, and his successor as captain in Sri Lanka, Darren Sammy, had to manage a squad lacking depth. Gayle's removal, after what seemed for him a torturous period at the helm, may have been inevitable. However, his contribution with the bat was solid, with an average of 58.33 and a career-best 333 in Sri Lanka being the high points.

But Gayle declining a central retainer contract was the real talking point of the year. That he was joined in his venture into free-agency by Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard was cause for genuine concern for the West Indies board. It was perhaps another indication of the lack of confidence that exists between the players and the board.

The skirmishes between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association that had led to the top players withholding their services for the visit to Sri Lanka in 2009 were not exacerbated in 2010. However, the public war of words between the two sides continued on a variety of issues - including the overlooking of Sarwan for a retainer contract - and was a reminder of the real divide that still exists.

And this time round, the Champions League Twenty20 did not provide an end-of-year facelift for West Indies cricket like it had last year. Guyana, the new Caribbean Twenty20 champions, led by Sarwan, could not emulate Trinidad & Tobago's inspired run to the final in 2009. The Guyanese did not win a game.

However, there were two developments that could in time produce a much different set of results for West Indies. The Sagicor High Performance Centre finally took in its first batch of players. It is the WICB's version of a finishing school, one that will hopefully send out a more equipped breed of player for international cricket.

More immediately, the restarted West Indies A team programme has already sent forth new players who have made an impact, namely Darren Bravo and Shane Shillingford. Offspinner Shillingford made his Test debut against South Africa after playing A team cricket and also had an impact in the first Test against the Sri Lankans before he was reported for a suspect action. It is an action that has caused him problems previously. But the improvement in his overall game has been evident. It would be a pity if new questions over his action were to curtail his career. It was a case of one step forward, two back for him. West Indies cricket's footwork in 2010 was no better.

High point
At 22, Kemar Roach is still young in the game. But his 16 wickets in Tests this year, especially his 10 in the challenging conditions of Sri Lanka was evidence of the continued progress of this genuine fast bowler. For once, here was a West Indian youngster not going backwards.

In a year low on genuine team achievements, the 333 reminders of Chris Gayle's Test-match pedigree in Galle stand out. His future in the five-day game is uncertain now that he is an independent operator. However, Gayle proved again in Sri Lanka that he is an asset to West Indies in any kind of game.

Low point
Losing the Queen's Park Oval Twenty20 by 26 runs to Zimbabwe when the target was just 106 was another in a long list of on-field ignominious moments. Crashing out as hosts of World Twenty20 after losing to Australia in the Super Eights was bad enough. Doing so with 22 balls to spare was just not on.

New kid on the block
Protest as he might, Darren Bravo, 21, will not soon hear the end of the Brian Lara comparisons. The family link from their native Santa Cruz in Trinidad, Bravo's striking physical resemblance, his left-handedness, not to mention his skill against spin bowling will keep such talk alive. However, the maturity he has already displayed at the crease should make Bravo a future topic of discussion in his own right. After filling Ramnaresh Sarwan's spot at No. 3 on debut, he embraced the challenge of Test cricket abroad as though it was another assignment for his local Queen's Park club. His knocks of 58, 80 and 68 were powered by a reassuring self-belief.

Fading star
Not long ago Denesh Ramdin was West Indies vice-captain. Now he is in a no-man's-land of his own making. The steady decline in his batting, rather than his wicketkeeping, has left him out of the international team. Some honest self-examination and runs for T&T and the A team seem the only way back for him at this point.

What 2011 holds
The World Cup in Asia ought to be the highlight. However, current form, a lack of self-belief and the absence of a settled squad suggests an early flight home. The Test and limited-overs series that follow, against Pakistan and India from April to July, will be a more accurate pointer to the immediate future. These will be Darren Sammy's first assignments at home as captain and will give him and coach Gibson more time to drive home their hard-work ethic. But hard work alone is not sufficient. The West Indies players must begin to genuinely believe in themselves to start winning again.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

Edwards and Taylor are both my boys. But let us face it, how can so many of you keep mentioning about them when they are not even selected by their respective countries? It would be nice to have them in action with Roach. In the meantime we have to forget about them for now and focus our attention on Pascal and Tonge to partner Roach.

Posted by svg27rivers on (January 1, 2011, 2:14 GMT)

Why so many people keep talking about Edwards? When and if he ever come back he will not be the same. The length of that time he's being out means his injury is very bad we will be lucky if he come back as a medium pacer. we have four young fast bowlers we need to focus on them.

Posted by jermainewi on (January 1, 2011, 0:31 GMT)

WI CAN BE THE BEAT TEAM IN 2011....... BUT THEY HAVE TO WORK VERY HARD ON THE YOUNG GUYS ....... OUR BOWLING IS LOOKING VERY VERY GOOD AT THIS TIME HOPEFULLY EVERY ONE STAT FIT...... ALL THE WI IN 2011

Posted by shamicmat on (December 31, 2010, 17:54 GMT)

WI bowling line up=Taylor Edwards Roach Ben and Bravo batting=Gayle Barath Sarwan Bravo and SHIV.(Nash is missing i know but who would u drop from this team if u say Sarwan you a assssss) what we missing is a wicketkeeper batsman,Ramdin need to step up is game. THIS TEAM WILL BEAT ANY TEAM IN THE WORLD WITH THE RIGHT attitude.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2010, 17:50 GMT)

Am sure WI will be a decent team in World Cup 2011.......

Posted by Finn92 on (December 31, 2010, 14:09 GMT)

I really hope they start to pick up as cricket is just not as good when there's no Carribbean style in it! Roach, Bravo and Barath look really good and maybe they can help bring the West Indies back to the top end of the rankings

Posted by   on (December 31, 2010, 11:55 GMT)

Hoping that Darren Bravo in batting and Roach in bowling can be the lynchpins around which a new team can be built. The world needs a powerful West Indies team

Posted by Legster on (December 31, 2010, 8:49 GMT)

If the WI Cricket admin sorts out their rubbish management of the setup, like the continual bickering with players, for instance, things could improve for them quickly.

Posted by djfw666 on (December 31, 2010, 3:44 GMT)

I hope the new young guys coming through and the former young guys who are injured can come back and re-establish the West Indies as a cricketing force. A lot can be achieved with Barath, the Bravos, Roach, Taylor and Edwards. Let's hope we see them all in action soon.

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