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Lessons not learned

Almost as worrying for the West Indies Cricket Board as the four-day defeat at Sabina Park was the reaction of certain members of the team to the humiliation on Sunday. Whereas sackcloth, ashes and a long spell in the nets might have been expected, several of them acted as if they didn't really care.

In the darkest hours of their tours of the Caribbean in the 1980s, the England players, beaten and bruised, often attracted media criticism for supposedly adopting a stance of resigned acceptance, each defeat being dismissed with an air of inevitability. Remedial nets were optional, a beer or two apparently compulsory.

That mantle of what might be seen in the modern climate as unprofessionalism has now passed to West Indies. Blown away inside a session for 47, within hours four of their number - named in several papers as Ramnaresh Sarwan, Tino Best, Adam Sanford and Chris Gayle - found themselves in even deeper trouble when allegedly spotted doing some post-match partying in Sabina Park's Mound Stand. One or two reports go on to claim that it wasn't a quick drink but more of a late-night/early-morning affair.

Ricky Skerritt, West Indies' team manager, was livid, fuming: "I am disgusted at the thoughtlessness and shamelessness displayed by these players following such an horrific performance." A public apology from the team followed.

Lesson learned? Not a bit of it. Yesterday, West Indies called a net in the middle at Sabina Park, where one might have expected a full turnout, even if hangovers had begun to cloud one or two heads. But without naming names, a West Indian spokesman said that "quite a number" of players took up the option of the practice session. By definition, therefore, some did not.

Last month, Tony Cozier, the veteran broadcaster and journalist, slammed the side for their off-field performance on the recent tour of southern Africa. Writing in the Barbados-based Nation newspaper, Cozier said that the management of the tour party left a lot to be desired. It was, he said, clear that it was "divided and deficient, not only in relation to such cricketing issues as fitness and practice but, just as importantly, to standards of dress and demeanour".

As long ago as 1995 Wes Hall, the then manager, reported at the end of the England tour that a meeting had to be held to address "unacceptable behaviour of some members of the team". That was the series when Winston Benjamin was sent home for disciplinary reasons.

Several subsequent tours have ended with thinly disguised complaints from managers and officials about the players' poor approach. Last year's Wisden Cricketers' Almanack described the West Indies A tour of England as "a bad-tempered, unproductive meander around the backwaters of English cricket rather than an exhilarating fast stream to the top".

Some players, it seems, think that there is little or no responsibility attached to representing West Indies. If being routed for 47 in Jamaica hasn't brought home the seriousness of the situation, perhaps it's just beyond their understanding.

Martin Williamson is the managing editor of Wisden Cricinfo.