Former South African captain Graeme Smith says West Indies might fail to go past the league stage at the upcoming World Cup because "on their day, if they don't wake up, they can easily be beaten". Smith was speaking on Contenders, ESPNcricinfo's World Cup 2015 preview show, His co-panelist on the show, former India captain Rahul Dravid said the "lack of stability" in the West Indies team will make it very hard for them to make an impact in the tournament.
"From my point of view, there have been too many changes," Dravid said. "They've got three different captains [across formats], and I know South Africa has three different captains but South Africa have a lot better management around that group and a core group of players that can handle that situation. I think West Indies, there's in the team. They've got talent, if you look at the team there is a lot of talent. But I don't know whether they are organised enough, they'll have their moments but whether they can be competitive right through the tournament remains to be seen."
The West Indies selectors made the decision to leave out senior players Dwayne Bravo, who was the captain of the ODI team till recently, as well as allrounder Kieron Pollard from their 15-man squad. Inexperienced Fast bowler Jason Holder has been appointed captain and in another setback, star spinner Sunil Narine withdrew from the squad to give himself more time to work on his bowling action, which was reported as suspect in successive matches during last year's Champions League T20 where Narine represented Kolkata Knight Riders.
"They are up there with the most unstructured administration board set-ups in the world, which probably allows their players the freedom to go and play around the world," said Smith. "Its disappointing because West Indies bring so much flair to the international game, people and fans around the world love watching them. It's disappointing because you lose out on players that people love to watch. I think Bravo was their captain. Only recently he's not their captain now because of stuff that's happened behind the scenes. We don't really know the intricate details and Holder, a young, tall fast bowler, has been thrust into this position now with a lot of turmoil around him and a lot of questions being asked. So it's unfortunate for him and it's unfortunate for West Indies cricket that it hasn't quite matched up to what we would like to see."
The great West Indies team of yesteryear won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 and lost in the final of the third edition in 1983. However, they have failed to qualify for the semi-finals of a World Cup since 1996. Dravid said that while their decline was "disappointing", it didn't surprise him. "I have been touring the West Indies since 1996, you just see that the facilities, the practice facilities, the training facilities have just got worse and worse and worse, whereas everywhere else in the world they've got better and better and better," he said. "I think that's the big disappointment. If you don't have training facilities or if you don't have good infrastructure for your young players to grow and play cricket in, you're not necessarily going to produce a lot of great Test players and if you don't produce great Test players, you don't produce very good Test teams and this is what can happen."
Smith is of the view that for West Indies to surprise the critics, they will have to depend on "individual flair" rather than teamwork. "If you look at New Zealand, they're a team, they play like a team, they find a way to win," he said. "May be not as much natural talent as West Indies have though. They rely on individuals to perform - Chris Gayle hopefully to have a good tournament, give them a chance... Guys like [Andre] Russell or [Kemar] Roach can bowl quick and you've got [Darren] Sammy who can hit well at the death. So they will rely on individuals to hopefully to get them over the line."