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West Indies cricket

December 19, 2013

Woe becomes West Indies cricket

Noel Kalicharan

Hiding from the issues around West Indies cricket won't make them go away © Getty Images

When India beat the West Indies by an innings in two Test matches in a total of five days just a few weeks ago, we thought that our cricket was at its lowest ebb. We took consolation from the fact that India was the second-ranked Test playing nation, way above us at No 6. But even the most die-hard West Indian fan would be hard-pressed to take any "positives" from being beaten by an innings, in two and a half days playing time, by New Zealand, a team ranked two places below us.

When the Windies, with the help of the rain, scrambled a draw in the first Test, we felt some pride in the way the team fought after following on by 396 runs. The two Darrens - Bravo and Sammy - put their heads down and fought like wounded tigers, after Shivnarine Chanderpaul had had a rare failure. We would not have minded had we lost the match but were elated to be saved by the weather.

And then a few days later, we are back to the same old story: a spineless performance and capitulation in the most pathetic manner. No guts, no fight, no pride.

Sometimes statistics lie, but not this time. Once again, they highlight the depressing tale of West Indies cricket. On a green pitch, tailor-made for good seam bowling, our pace "attack" of Tino Best, Shannon Gabriel and Darren Sammy (I laugh just writing this) looked almost pedestrian. With the bowling short and wide, the pitch became innocuous, and the New Zealand batsmen feasted.

Despite this, New Zealand made about 180 runs more than they should have, courtesy two simple dropped catches by Kirk Edwards and Best, the latter described as "laughable" by Ian Bishop on commentary. Still, 441 seemed small compared to the 609 in the first Test.

As far as West Indies batting is concerned, there is little difference between Tests and ODIs. As if to prove me wrong (and I was delighted to be so proven), we batted for 162 overs in the second innings of the first Test. Aha. We've turned the corner. Oops. Turns out that the corner was just the arc of a circle and we were soon back to where we started. We were bowled out for 193 in 49.5 overs in the first innings and for 175 in 54.5 overs in the second. On the same wicket, New Zealand's ordinary bowlers were made to look unplayable with a little discipline, by bowling full and straight.

While it is true that the players picked as batsmen should be making the runs, the contribution made by the lower order is critical in the modern game. But, apart from that aberration by Sammy in the first Test, our bowlers have shown no appetite for a fight.

In the first Test, the last five New Zealand wickets put on 224 runs and, in the second Test, the last four put on 145. By contrast, in the first innings of the second Test, the last five West Indian wickets put on a grand total of 11 runs and, in the second innings, the last five fell for 29. No one seemed to have any pride in making the opposition work for his wicket.

We were all flabbergasted when, after the Indian debacle, the West Indies selectors decided to send the same team to New Zealand. We were puzzled why Sammy said "it wouldn't be fair to change the combination" for the second Test, even after Shannon Gabriel had bowling figures of 0 for 164 in 32 overs in the first. But despite these gaffes by the selectors, the lack of discipline and fight by those chosen is appalling.

I've been following West Indies cricket since the 1963 tour of England. I've savoured the peaks and suffered in the valleys, but this is the most depressed I've ever felt about our cricket team. It doesn't pain as much as it might, though, since it is almost expected these days.

When you hit rock-bottom, the only way is up. But, knowing the make-up of West Indies cricket, we might find a way to dig a hole at the bottom of the well. It will probably start with the selectors showing "full confidence" with this set of players.

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Posted by dexter on (December 22, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

I have to agree with Chris Floyd on this matter, there really is no one to replace anyone, its just another person to blame. The selectors can only pick the players that are on offer and that's what they have done. I think the selectors have done a good job with the players they have used except for maybe not using Narine earlier in the series but they eventually bought him in for the last test and after he took six wickets and reduced the opposition to their lowest first innings total all series they still crashed to a humiliating defeat. In all honesty the WICB executive committee have got to be replaced, WI cricket needs to be placed under a state of emergency and an interim board needs to be put in place ASAP. The current people in charge have no clue what needs to be done, THEY ARE NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN A BUSINESS ENTITY EITHER and all they have been yielding is failure and it doesn't really seem to matter to them. Get rid of all the executives and start of fresh is the answer.

Posted by Dummy4 on (December 21, 2013, 9:18 GMT)

It is perplexing that the players and selectors keeping wondering, that is if they care, why the pavilions around the world where they play are becoming more and more empty.

Posted by Dummy4 on (December 20, 2013, 2:51 GMT)

People complain about selection all the time. Small islanders, big islanders, expats, etc., all blame the WICB. They complain about the batting. They complain about the bowling. They complain about the captain. They complain about the coach. What they don't do, however, is offer a realistic alternative. For example, if you don't like Sammy, then who do want for skipper? If you don't like Ottis, whose your coach of choice? You don't want this bowler or that one, show me who you want and why? Don't like the top order batting? Who are you gonna call up? Remember when Gayle was out of the side for so long? Everyone said, all we have to do is bring Gayle back and we'll win again. Wrong. Now this experiment with Bravo (whose stats are worse than Sammy's in the last few years) as ODI captain is failing too. The problems in the West Indies are deep and structural and will not be solved easily or quickly. There are no easy answers. At least Gibson and Sammy have a long term plan. They care.

Posted by Dummy4 on (December 20, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

I share your pain my brother. I am also from the Callipso era, they gave me joy in my heart while serving in the Army (69 -92) (while being very aware the dangers of my surrounds - not from my allied colligues). I have suffered during the 1990s to date (except for the very rare occasions of one day/2020 successes). I cheer myself up by pretending that they are rebuilding and new gems at batting and bowling are in the pipeline (under 19s). I would have pulled my hair out by now but my wife always suggest that I need an haircut instead. I was in desperate doldrums at the beginning of the 3rd test v NZ when they were 86/5, thank god for Chanders and Rammers (+ contribution from Besti). All I can say is keep the faith, hope and believe in miracles - smile ITS CHRISTMAS. Alex Hastings (optimist)

Posted by uthkarsh on (December 19, 2013, 19:07 GMT)

Even though I am an Indian, I have been an ardent fan of West Indies cricket and there have been times when I had rooted for them even when they played against India. But looking at the abysmal performance in recent times and the total lack of interest shown by their cricket board to mitigate this has left me disgruntled. I totally second the opinion of the writer here. The main problem for the WestIndies seems to be the selection and the domestic circuit. God alone help them overcome this.

Posted by Wayne on (December 19, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

After the west indies put up a fight in the first test when Bravo scored a double century and Sammy scored 80 runs and with the help of the rain was able to salvage a draw, I said to myself the west team are now overflowing with confidence to go and dominate in the next test. But I was proven wrong,they simply capitulate and lose that test match. Can they get out of the third and final test? We will see!

Posted by Riza on (December 19, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

Great article, Noel. And so true! I like the last part - they've already start digging the hole at the bottom of the well by leaving out Chanderpaul from the ODI team. Really, which of the batsmen chosen would (could) make more runs than Chanders?

Posted by kent on (December 19, 2013, 12:52 GMT)

Loud noises are being made by several leading lights in the region: Mr. Cozier, Mr. Clive LLoyd, Mr. Holding, Mr. Lara, a number of journalists, and even yourself Noel,just to name a few.These are voices are crying in the wilderness, begging to be heard, beseeching the Stakeholders, pleading for something to be done to arrest the slide, to change the fortunes.The WICB continues arrogantly on its merry ignorant way, making the same silly mistakes over and over and over again, seemingly indifferent to the heartache and distressing pain the avid cricket fan (not just WI fan) suffers when the once might WI team regularly loses a match in 3 days, barely batting for 50 overs in a innings.If I can wake up one morning and hear that there has been a cricketing coup in the West Indies and all the administrative structures of the game in the West Indies have been dismantled, a new regime has been put in place to run our cricket I would be ecstatic. But then I would be only dreaming, wouldn't I

Posted by kent on (December 19, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

Sorry Noel, but you are wasting you time "being depressed" about West Indies cricket. The people who matter do not care ENOUGH about West Indies cricket, its rich history and the legacy for the future: not WICB, not the individual territorial cricketing boards, not the present players, not even the governments of the region. All that can go wrong has gone wrong with our West Indian game. So, West Indies will continue to move from one depressing performance to the other, all in the efforts to make the other playing countries look good. Every now and again like in the first test in NZ, like the T20 World title we won, they will do something to fool you into believing there is hope, but realistically there is none! WHY? Nobody in the West Indies cares enough about the game in the region. You can talk, write, preach, cry your heart out, or as you said become depressed, nothing will change, because the ones that matter do not care enough. That is the reality! sorry to burst your bubble.

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