West Indies cricket July 21, 2013

Fatigue a factor in West Indies' deterioration

West Indies cricket may be suffering in the ODIs due to a lack of basic work, but fatigue may also be pulling down players like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard

With every passing ODI over the past eight months - in Bangladesh, India, Australia, England and back in the Caribbean - West Indies' problems multiply.

They concern primarily the change of the captaincy and the overall batting failures that have resulted in all-out totals over the last 23 matches of 199, 132, 171 and 98 and none above 250.

Also high on the list is the failure to recognise the value, especially in a limited-overs contest, of singles and twos so readily available on the vacant spaces created by widespread fields.

As the West Indies pursued their modest goal of 229 against Pakistan at the Beausejour stadium on Friday, they ended with 184 dot balls, those that earned them nothing. They were, by straightforward mathematics, 30.4 overs of their 50; Pakistan had 100 dots fewer.

As Marlon Samuels, especially, soaked up the overs in his tortured 46 from 106 balls, he kept banging balls straight to fielders on the edge of the 30-yard semi-circles so hard that to run would have meant a run-out (not unusual where he is concerned); a simple block would have yielded one. It was thoughtless, unprofessional cricket

The former Australian captain, Bobby Simpson, held the theory that the team with the more singles, rather than the more boundaries, usually wins ODIs. It sounds idiotic on the face of it; the stats and the disruption produced for bowlers and fielders prove otherwise.

The switch of captaincy from Darren Sammy to Dwayne Bravo for the 50-over version in March was, according to chief selector Clyde Butts, to "freshen the leadership". It was prompted by the ODI results (12 losses, nine wins and two ties) that so dramatically contrast the six successive Test victories and the euphoric triumph in last October's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

These are early days but, after the team's elimination from the recent triangular home series with India and Sri Lanka, Bravo openly accepted responsibility, acknowledging that he was still to fit into what is an unfamiliar role at a difficult time.

He is an ebullient all-round cricketer with eight years experience in the international game. Yet his last shot as captain was in South Africa six years ago when he took over for the third and final Test and the five ODIs after Chris Gayle was injured. He has not even led Trinidad & Tobago since.

He said after the triangular series that it was a new role so "I have to get accustomed to it and address it as quickly as possible".

He has taken his responsibility a little far by choosing to bowl the "death" overs himself; the results should persuade him that, as gallant as his decision is, he is not suited to the role.

Against India in Port-of-Spain, he went for 23 off his last two overs; at Beausejour on Friday, his last two cost 32 and very nearly the match.

Bravo has only two more ODIs in charge in this series to fit into the role; the West Indies' next ODIs are scheduled for New Zealand at the end of the year.

The worries are compounded by the decline of the key batsmen, Gayle, Samuels and Kieron Pollard. It constantly places the burden on the tail-enders either to squeeze out a few narrow victories -- or, as was the case at the Beausejour stadium on Friday, an outrageous tie against Pakistan -- or save some face.

Gayle, as feared a striker of a cricket ball as there ever has been, has tapered off to 14 scores below 20 in his last 18 ODI innings.

Samuels has found the certain timing, and the confidence, that made him among the top batsmen in all forms of the game last year elusive, as his struggle on Friday indicated.

Pollard, capable of demolishing opposition bowling as brutally as Gayle, has gone into such a slump that his seven innings since returning home after the Champions Trophy are 0, 4, 0, 0, 3, 30 and 0. Such a sequence so cripples self-belief that it is difficult to break free.

Yet Gayle has an impressive record in all three formats over a dozen years in West Indies colours and an incomparable reputation in Twenty20s the world over.

As recently as March, he was compiling his 15th Test hundred against Zimbabwe before heading off to the 20-overs stuff of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to belt his remarkable, record 175 with 17 sixes for his franchise team, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Just a month ago, he began the triangular series with 109 that underpinned the West Indies victory over Sri Lanka.

Samuels' rare quality was at its peak in 2012; he was not only the West Indies' most productive batsman but was among the world leaders. Pollard has three ODI hundreds, two against Australia home and away, one in India. So why the collective deterioration?

One feasible answer is plain old tiredness. They all certainly look drained.

Gayle, now 33, and Pollard have been virtually non-stop on the road, for the West Indies and for T20 teams in the IPL and Australia's Big Bash, for almost a year.

Samuels was also physically stretched, sidelined with a serious eye injury during the Big Bash and with a muscle strain during the IPL before returning for the Tests against Zimbabwe in March, since when he has been in all West Indies ODIs in Champions Trophy, the triangular and now against Pakistan.

It is instructive that Lendl Simmons has been the freest of the batsmen since his umpteenth recall following his form for the 'A' team against Sri Lanka 'A' in June and that Jason Holder, at 21 the youngest on the team, has made an early impression.

Simmons was not picked for Australia, the Zimbabwe matches or the Champions Trophy. Holder had just two ODIs and the series against Sri Lanka 'A'. Both were fresh and with something to prove. It is clearly an explanation that the selectors, by sticking basically to the same squad throughout, have not bought into.

If it is something else, the West Indies do have a deeper problem than just fatigue.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • K on July 25, 2013, 1:35 GMT

    Tony, I have to disagree. Pollard has poor techniques; a bouncer or spinning ball shows his weakness. Samuels is always consistent; maybe Gayle is overworked. WI lost this Pak vs WI ODI series 3-1 because of DJ Bravo. He is a poor captain, and poorer bowler. He prefers to bowl at the death and is bleeding runs when it matters.

  • Hildreth on July 24, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Tony Cozier has a point but only as far as ROTATION is concerned. Players like Gayle, D.J. Bravo and Pollard have a heavy workload and should have been rested in this series, but that's not an excuse for their poor performances. By sticking to basically the same squad for several ODI's at home and outside a major international tournament, the selectors have robbed themselves and WICB a perfect opportunity to look at the young talented players in the region. Jason Holder and Johnson Charles are the youngest players in the team currently playing Pakistan and they are both giving a good account of themselves. So why aren't the selectors recruiting more young talent like Delorn Johnson, Cummins, Kirk Edwards, Jonathan Carter, Keddy Lesfloris and Ashley Nurse. These players have proven themselves in their regional teams, A-teams and Edwards in tests. In fact the selectors are making a mockery of regional cricket and Windies A-Team by failing to blood these players at international level.

  • kartikeya on July 23, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    We can't hide our bad results by blaming us being weary or fatigued.We first need to drop players like Devon smith and pollard who make the team one of 9 players.We need more specialist players rather than all -rounders.We need to win the World Cup in 2015.

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    Has Mr Cozier asked the nurses, teachers, doctors, construction workers etc, if they are suffering from fatigue working at their jobs. Is Mr Cozier suffering from fatigue, having spent so many years at his job. It only serves to make him a top class commentator! Cricket is not a sport any more, its a job - professionals- and if one cannot perform , just like any other jobs, then that one has to be terminated. The problem with WI batsmen, they are lacking technique, application and cricket sense. The crux of the problem is to be found at the cricket academy! What are the coaches coaching? Baseball! One just has to watch Jonson Charles. He stands on the leg stump and swats at balls. That is the style of baseball - feet do not move. Charles and many morel ike him will have problems playing the moving ball. Instead of watching video clips of baseball players, they should be watching clips of Haynes, Greenidge, Gavaskar, Gomes, Devilles, Amlar, Bell, Sangakara ,Cooke and Trott.

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    It's not tiredness..... Tiger Paul never get tired he should have been in the 11. Sarwan and Narsingh Deobarine should also be or rotate in the 11.

  • Carl on July 22, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    There are plenty good enough players throughout the region to not rely on the same 13/14 guys time and again. The selectors need to understand the importance of blooding young players earlier. Delorn Johnson tore through a decent India 'A' last year, yet Rampaul and Fidel Edwards were mistakenly selected over him - crazy. Now, young Miguel Cummins has blasted all in front of him and guess what? No sign of his selection either. Get a grip selectors, time to put the life back into the pitches AND the team. Roach, Best, Holder, Johnson and Cummins are a fine pack of quickies - but they need managing in the correct manner.

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    The best WestIndies one day batting lineup 1. K Powell, 2 L.Simmons 3. DM Bravo, 4. M Samuel, 5. C Gayle, 6. J Charles, 7. N. Deonaraine (Capt), 8. D Sammy.9. S Shillingford, 10. K.Roach, 11. J. Holder, 12. R.Rampaul.

  • Rameshwar on July 22, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    I, also disagree that fatigue is the cause of WI poor showing. I keep on reading about how talented these players are, and I have looked at them for years, but yet to see any talent. True, at times, they have shown brilliance, but consistency is the key element to judge talent. None of them has show consistency. The simple reason is that they all lack the proper techniques. Every player will at some time go through a slump and it is usually at this time that the good players fall back on sound techniques. No foundation means a losing struggle. They have not even developed the art of reading spin in the air and off the pitch. All concentration is used to just watch the ball. This means playing the ball late and where-ever it goes, it goes. If you can't read the spin, you won't pick the gaps, hence, another dot ball. The fast bowlers have not realized yet that the key to swing bowling is by maintaining an upright seam, not blazing speed. Imparting rotation will help seam to stay upright.

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Intresting comparison between Sameuls and Sangakara they both debuted in same year and look at there stats. Sangakara Test and one day debut year 2000

    Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St Tests 117 200 16 10486 287 56.98 19428 53.97 33 42 1292 36 169 20 ODIs 350 327 35 11595 169 39.70 15187 76.34 16 77 1108 65 344 84 T20Is 43 41 5 1080 78 30.00 893 120.94 0 6 110 16 20 17

    Samuels Test and one day debut year 2000

    Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St Tests 46 80 6 2767 260 37.39 5702 48.52 5 18 373 21 21 0 ODIs 153 143 22 3754 126 31.02 5133 73.13 5 22 372 66 42 0 T20Is 23 21 3 584 85* 32.44 426 137.08 0 6 35 38 6 0