West Indies v Pakistan, 1st Test, Providence May 16, 2011

A win is a win

The success against Pakistan is not necessarily an indication of brighter times ahead for West Indies cricket, but it needs to be savoured
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Don't look so sour. Despite yesterday's aberration, West Indies cricket is not back on track, and so many of you will be utterly relieved to hear that.

It is a measure of the enthusiasm-sapping impact of the staggering decline from the dizzying heights of 16 years ago, coupled with the unending series of controversies swirling around the regional game, that many people follow the Caribbean side these days merely to get more reasons to criticise and condemn.

In fact, the plummet from the summit has contributed to an intensifying of parochialism, tribalism, insularity and race-based loyalties to the extent that when, on one of those infrequent occasions when the team performs well and actually goes on to win, a new level of creativity comes to the fore as roundabout journeys are devised to navigate around the small matter of victory and still arrive at a destination comfortable enough to take a lag in the players' miserable tails.

Did you see the looks on some of the faces of those at Providence Stadium after Darren Sammy sealed the 40-run victory with his fifth wicket of the innings? If they weren't supporting Pakistan outright, more than a few appeared distinctly indifferent to a West Indian success that seemed completely out of the question after the first day of this first Test ended with the home side at 209 for nine. That they fought back and won on the fourth afternoon in defence of a target of 219 has briefly taken the air out of the tyres of those rolling along merrily with their respective agendas while West Indies slid from one humiliation to another, especially since the last Test win more than two years ago against England at Sabina Park.

Take the Trini breakaway posse for example. The members of this tribe support their fellow nationals to the hilt, but hope West Indies never abandon that losing feeling as it supposedly strengthens their case for the twin-island state to go it alone. Go where is not exactly clear, for the rules of the International Cricket Council suggest that it is long, complex and impractical for any territory to abandon the long-established principle of the West Indies as a unified cricket entity.

Then there are those who are not interested in any form of secession, but just put their own ahead of the broader interests of the team. So if West Indies lose, they lose. If, miracle of miracles, they win, they win. No big deal one way or the other, so long as Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo are scoring runs and Ravi Rampaul is taking wickets.

More than any other sentiment, though, the most widespread concern will be that this hard-fought victory in Guyana will be a vindication of the modus operandi of the WICB

Just so that matters of loyalty can be complicated further, there's the segment of the population that values ethnicity above all else, even nationhood, so that the size of the Indian presence in relation to the African presence in the composition of the final 11 is of paramount importance. Poor Brendan Nash, who would obviously be classified as "other", just gets in the way.

And how could we ignore the issue of the captaincy, especially as it was presented on a platter to Sammy, and for an unprecedented extended first term to boot by his fellow St Lucians at the very helm of the West Indies Cricket Board? There is no question that his position at the helm creates an imbalance in the squad, both in terms of the depth in batting (Test average 16.10) and effectiveness in bowling. Still, there seems a general unwillingness to even acknowledge when he performs creditably.

If West Indies had lost that opening Test, it would have been Sammy's fault because of his mediocre all-round numbers (by the way, 36 wickets in 12 Tests at 26.25 with four five-wicket innings hauls is quite decent) and limited tactical acumen. Now that they've won means the credit is automatically shifted to the support staff, the individual contributions of other players and, of course, the spinelessness of the Pakistani batting. And what of the captain's figures of five for 29 off 17 overs (seven in the match and the Man of the Match award by the way)? Oh well, that's only because the man from Micoud is an up-and-down seamer flattered by an up-and-down pitch against players ill-equipped technically and temperamentally for such a challenge. Sammy must feel like building contractors contemplating taking the government to court over long-overdue money: when you lose, you lose and when you win, you lose.

More than any other sentiment, though, the most widespread concern will be that this hard-fought victory in Guyana will be a vindication of the modus operandi of the WICB. In this PR-driven multimedia era, expect mellifluous prose in praise of the boys from the much-maligned governing body, counterbalanced by a grudging acknowledgement of the effort by the West Indies Players Association that will not be able to resist one or two digs at the administration along the way.

Yet in the midst of all these complex and disparate interest groups, there will be a few simple souls who are just happy that they can savour a victory by their West Indies team. They know it represents no light at the end of the tunnel, no start of a turnaround, no new dawn, notwithstanding the tripe being uttered by those who should know better. For them, a win is a win, and in this protracted guava season, it will more than suffice, even if so many others around them are vex like hell.

Fazeer Mohammed is a writer and broadcaster in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Divinetouch on May 19, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    Fazeer,

    All I know is that ALLAH did not want Pakistan to win.

  • riverlime on May 18, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    (Fazeer, please forgive me this bit of fun) @Metman...You're not saying anything about the now infamous "No Cummins, no goings" boycott. On no other territory would the cricket have been held to ransom for the inclusion of a mediocre player. And your (ahem) "logic", viz. any supporters of England in Bdos are Trini's, merely suggests that Trini's will travel around the islands, pouring money into the coffers of the WICB. So who supports cricket in the West Indies again? Anyway, enough troll-baiting. Sammy has done enough , JUST, to deserve a place on a similarly flat St kitts pitch. Smith needs some practice against spin before being sent out against the lions of India. Baugh needs to take off the iron gloves for a change.

  • riverlime on May 17, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    @Metman.... Bdos always supporting WI cricket? What about "no Cummins, no goings." And as for supporting other countries, why do you think Bdos is considered "Little England"? I'll tell you why- it's because England have home support in Bdos. So don't lecture if you haven't studied the topic at hand. WI cricket needs fewer angry diatribes and more analytical insights. Do try to keep up.

  • gottalovetheraindance on May 17, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    overall a good effort but still sum errors cant be overlooked. we won this test due to poor catching & batting by Pakistan & luck more than anything else. here r the major errors 1- making a spinners track for a team with 3 settled spinners yet select 1 talented spinner & few of us can bat spin. The pressure on Bishoo+ inexperiene was most obvious in the 4th innings. he would have benefited if Benn was there 2 help. If Afridi & Yusuf/ Khan were in this test we would have lost 2- playing devon smith as night watchman & fielder, he cant bat spin. Roach or Bishoo r more able nightwatchmen. in 2nd innings sammy could have open & get runs by slogging since thats all he can do wit the bat. quick runs better than no runs. 3 at times we were 2 defensive- note how simmons, shaffique, umar& misbah mixed attack & defence! sarwan could have helped bowl Tiger& Bishoo played an extremely vital role & Sarwan & Nash fought hard. both were unlucky to get out, if not 4 dat we may have won easier

  • dummy4fb on May 17, 2011, 15:47 GMT

    naysayers will always be naysayers... this isn't a turn around, but a win is a win, and its nice to enjoy them when they come

  • Metman on May 17, 2011, 15:21 GMT

    continuing @ Lloyd Phillips......In Bdos,you get more WI crowd support regardless of how many Bajans are playing than in any other country in the WI,followed by Jamaica.If in doubt,ask any long standing WI cricketer.In Trinidad and Guyana,you often get scores,hundreds and sometimes thousands of WEST INDIANS hailing for the opposition.Those are FACTS ! not personal opinion and hearsay !What I want the ICC to do though ,is to split up WI cricket into the individual Islands,and let them compete among themselves on a home and away basis,and the winner or top 2,compete among teams like ,Ireland, Holland and a couple others,and the winner place among the test playing nations.The reason,biases and jealousy are rampant in WI cricket,from the Board ,the selectors and even down to the Umpires.Every body wants his countryman selected ,even if stats show otherwise.Umpires would deliberate make wrong decisions knowing that there is no review system in the WI,and then put it down to human error.

  • Metman on May 17, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    @Lloyd Plillips !How can Bdos be seen to want to break away from WI cricket when they engaged a rest of the world XI to celebrate our Independence ? Man some of yu come with some logic that boggles the mind,and because Frank Worrell said that we should engage the rest of the WI XI,instead .,it should be so? At that time we were fielding 7 or 8 players on the WI team,and we were beating established test teams,and by playing a rest of the WI XI, it would have been like taking lambs to the slaughter.Furthermore,playing a rest of the WI XI,was more likely to be seen by jealous opponents as being arrogant.There was no talk then about Bdos wanting to break away from WI cricket at that time,so don't put words in Bajans mouths.The only talk about breaking away from WI cricket is from the mouths of trinis,about a year or 2 ago,when they won a couple of titles,and feel that they are world beaters.Furthermore,Bdos is the no.1 venue where WI get the biggest crowd support ,and that is a fact.

  • dummy4fb on May 17, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    What Bangladesh did ie winning a series against West Indies (although 2nd str WI team) still Pak is yet to win a series against them.But my point of concern is another ie this was the great chance for Pak Cricket to win against them in WI.Normally subcontinental player's always good against spin,but I do'nt why they played so poorly.There are should not be no excuse only themself(Pak Team) to blame.

  • Cricket_Man on May 17, 2011, 9:28 GMT

    I am a Pakistani but i don't know why i was supporting West Indies. I wanted Windies to win. Maybe because they deserved it from a very long time or maybe i was so upset on how Pakistani cricket affairs are running. My passion for Pakistani cricket is more or less finished. If they win ok good, if they don't, who cares. And i guess many Pakistani now feel the same way. Unless something rejuvenating takes place, Pakistani cricket will remain mediocre and this cricket board will ruin our cricket.

    Well done West Indies. You deserved it for all the hard work you've done. Hopefully you will win more matches without Chris Gayle and Keron Pollard. Bishoo is my favourite cricketer :D

  • East_West on May 17, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    Loss is a Loss! Pakistan thought they can run over WI after Ajma's performance BUT couldn't deal with Pace! I thought Pakistanis are better at handling Pace:)) They surely missed Afridi:)

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