It was fitting that the last day of cricket for West Indies in 2014 had nothing to do with action on the field. The dismal weather in Port Elizabeth dominated day five, much in the way events off the field cast a heavy cloud over West Indies cricket as the year ended.

After the one-day team, led by Dwayne Bravo, left their tour of India prematurely in October because of a pay dispute with their own players association and the West Indies Cricket Board, events on the pitch were made almost irrelevant. The fallout was severe.

The incensed Indian board wasted little time in suspending future series with West Indies and sending a claim of nearly US$42m for lost revenue to the WICB - a sum the Caribbean board does not have the means to pay. Bravo lost his job as West Indies one-day captain and his place in the side for the series against South Africa, as did senior colleague Kieron Pollard, with the World Cup less than two months away.

For sanctioning that action by the selectors, the WICB and its president, Dave Cameron, provoked the ire of one regional prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who had acted on behalf of the regional governments - the CARICOM group - in attempting to broker a settlement that had included an agreement from the WICB that none of the "India 14" would be victimised. Further, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding - a bone of contention between the players and the WICB for years, which had seemed finally to be the source of trouble no more - lay in tatters.

So distracting were these matters, so ominous the cloud of uncertainty they brought, that lost in the mix by the year's end was the cricket itself, which remained in dire straits. West Indies hardly showed signs of progress in all formats. Worse, 2014 was a year of strife or struggle for some of their key performers.

A suspect action ruled their key spinner Sunil Narine out of the tours of India and South Africa. Darren Bravo opted out of a tour for "personal reasons" for the second time in 12 months, while an increasingly troublesome back that required surgery plagued opener Chris Gayle and cast serious doubts over his future in Test cricket.

All things considered, it was an especially difficult year to be captain, particularly in your first season at the helm. But that was Denesh Ramdin's lot in the Test arena. His rich batting form of 2013 in the five-day format seemed to suffer as a result. Ramdin's one-day record, which included two centuries and an average of 57.22, only seemed to make that clear.

Darren Sammy, having already relinquished the one-day captaincy to Dwayne Bravo in 2013, found his role in the team further reduced when the Test captaincy was also taken away. His belated selection for the one-day leg of the South Africa series as a replacement for the injured Kemar Roach was hardly a reassuring sign, given Sammy was one of the "India 14". And with Jason Holder, 23, still seeking to establish his credentials as an international cricketer, his being saddled with the captaincy, at Dwayne Bravo's expense, just ahead of the World Cup, made for a decidedly unsettled feel.

However, there were positives too. Kraigg Brathwaite ended his comeback year in Test cricket with his third century in the 12-month period. His technique was exposed in his first ten matches, but he added more positive intent to his unflappable nature and the result was centuries against New Zealand (129), Bangladesh (212) and South Africa (106), runs that contributed to two wins and a draw. Seven hundred and one runs in six Tests at 77.88 were evidence of promise being fulfilled, for once.

Jerome Taylor's 20 wickets after four and a half years in the wilderness, Kemar Roach's 28 wickets (at a miserty 20.71), and Marlon Samuels' two ODI tons in India and his Test century in South Africa after having lost his place earlier in the year were also reassuring. In addition, Shivnarine Chanderpaul maintained his rock-like steadiness in the middle order in his 20th year of international cricket.

High point
The T20 format remained the one in which West Indies were most comfortable. And it was here they produced arguably their best performance of the year. In a do-or-die group match against Australia in the World T20 in Bangladesh, the defending champions, having dropped their opening match against India before beating the hosts, needed a victory against Australia to keep their title defense alive.

Chasing 179 for victory, and more directly 31 from the last two overs following a middle-order slump, captain Sammy made James Faulkner eat his pre-match words, about not liking West Indies with 34 off 13 balls as he and Dwayne Bravo (27 off 12) ripped the game away from Australia. That thriller of a win represented West Indies' highest successful chase in T20s. And though the champions-to-be Sri Lanka halted their forward march in the semi-finals, West Indian pride was kept intact. At least for a time.

Low point
Asia was also the stage for the great act of folly of 2014. Friday, October 17, in Dharamsala was the day the one-day squad, led by Dwayne Bravo, decided to quit their tour of India with one match left in the series and with three Tests and a T20 still to be played.

No single loss or collection of losses could match that bit of mass action for notoriety. It began a fresh season of discontent for Caribbean cricket, the full impact of which is yet to be felt.

New kid on the block
Jermaine Blackwood did not waste too much time getting into the swing of Test cricket. With only his second scoring shot at the game's highest level, he sent a length delivery from New Zealand seamer Trent Boult well over the long-on boundary. It was one of two sixes in his debut innings of 63 in the Trinidad Test West Indies needed to win if they were to level the three-match series with one still to play.

Blackwood's willingness to play his natural game paid off and contributed to the victory. However, he soon learned how cruel the game can sometimes be - his promising 63 was not sufficient to keep him in the team for the series decider in Barbados, which West Indies lost.

Still, as the first new batsman in the Test team for two years, Blackwood had given evidence of his usefulness. His five other innings in 2014 produced one other half-century. Plus, an average of 34.80 was at least a platform on which the diminutive Jamaican will hope to build in the new year.

Fading star
The brouhaha caused by the India tour saga pushed his story into the background, but Sunil Narine's troubles with his action also caused a major headache for West Indies in 2014. Called by umpires twice during the Champions League T20 when playing for his IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders, the spinner suddenly found the spotlight not on his wrist and fingers, but on his arm action as a whole. His banning from the tournament in India, so close to West Indies' tour there, made his omission for the ODI series inevitable. He has not played a competitive match since, as he tries to remodel an action that has brought him so much success over the last three years.

The track record of other bowlers who have had similar problems is not great. Fellow offspinner Shane Shillingford is not the force he once was, without his doosra.

Narine's quiet determination was tested before he entered the international arena when his action was called into question during a regional T20 competition. He recovered superbly then. But this latest setback represents his biggest test to date.

What 2015 holds
A World Cup year should be cause for genuine optimism for a side able to call on several potential match-winners with bat and ball. But optimism can hardly overcome uncertainty in the current climate. With still no replacement coach for Ottis Gibson after five months, a new, inexperienced captain is set to lead them to Australia and New Zealand, and the presence of some senior players in doubt, given the selectors' recent moves, it would be a brave man who would bank on a third West Indian World Cup title.

Indeed, it would be a brave man who would dare predict who and what will still be intact in West Indies cricket at the end of 2015. How the compensation issue with the BCCI ends will be critical, as will be the way WICB chooses to handle the "India 14" and their still unresolved contractual issues.

The signs suggest more thunder is on the horizon. And heavy rain.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express