Tony Cozier

The good, the bad and the totally unsurprising

There was a Test win and some promising performances. But other than those, familiar frustration prevailed in West Indies cricket through 2015

Tony Cozier
Tony Cozier
The Bridgetown Test against England was West Indies' only five-day win of the year  •  Getty Images

The Bridgetown Test against England was West Indies' only five-day win of the year  •  Getty Images

A year that began in turmoil ended in turmoil for West Indies cricket. It's a recurring refrain.
The repeated squabbles between the West Indies board and the players association were previously the reasons. They led to strikes by the leading players in 2005 and 2009 and threats of strikes on an almost monthly basis.
The earlier strikers have either gone into peaceful retirement or to whatever lucrative T20 league they can find. The new disruptive disturbances now involve different characters: the BCCI, the selectors, the head coach, and ultimately the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) governments. Throughout, the board president, Dave Cameron, has been at the forefront, ruling his organisation with an autocratic rod, living up to his defiant dictum: "They've criticised you. They've doubted you. They've lied on you. They've done all they can do, but one thing they can't do is stop you."
In all the chaos, there were certain points, not all negative, that attracted my attention.
Best Test win: Options are limited to the only one, but the three-day, come-from-behind triumph by five wickets over England at Kensington Oval in early May that levelled the series was one to savour, especially after ECB chief Colin Graves' dismissal of West Indies as a "mediocre" team.
Best innings: Jason Holder's unbeaten match-saving 103 in the opening Test against England in Antigua. His first Test hundred confirmed earlier evidence of his batting ability. As much as anything else, its maturity prompted the selectors to install him later as ODI captain and then in Tests.
Top bowling spells: Devendra Bishoo and Jerome Taylor against Australia in the Caribbean in June. Bishoo's 6 for 80 in the first Test, in Dominica, included yet another "ball of the century" by a leggie: it pitched outside leg and hit Brad Haddin's off stump. It left the Aussies reeling at 126 for 6 in reply to 148, but West Indies couldn't follow up. Australia posted 318 and won by 10 wickets.
Taylor's new-ball burst in the second Test, on his home ground, Sabina Park in Kingston, included two wickets from five consecutive maidens. His final figures were 25-10-47-6, but there was little else from the rest of the bowling as Australia totalled 399 on the way to victory by 277 runs.
One for the future: At a time when West Indies' fast bowling stocks are low, Alzarri Joseph shows undeniable promise. A strapping 6ft 4in 19-year-old from Antigua, he satisfies the stereotype of the West Indian pacemen of the past. So does his speed and his tendency to snare early wickets with the new ball. He left the Caribbean for the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh with 17 wickets in four matches at 15.88 in the first-class Professional Cricket League. Kagiso Rabada rose to prominence for South Africa in the last such global tournament. It's Joseph's first test at international level.
Embarrassments: Several qualify but none more so than the loss by 10 wickets in the opening match of the Australian tour to a Cricket Australia XI manned by a group of apprentices, six on first-class on debut.
False starts: Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach got the series in Australia underway in Hobart, each with first-ball no balls. It set an immediate pattern for what was to follow.
Most frustrating opponent: Adam Voges, Australia's 36-year-old No.5, compiled scores of 130 not out, 37, 269 not out and 106 not out in four Tests in the Caribbean and Australia. Nothing more to add.
Criticism and consequence: Head coach Phil Simmons' claim of "outside interference" in the selection of the ODI team to Sri Lanka that brought him the WICB's immediate suspension.
Gone missing: To use the Australian aboriginal expression, Marlon Samuels went walkabout in the Tests in Hobart and Melbourne. He appeared on the field in body, not in spirit.
U-turn: Jamaica Cricket Association directors supported Joel Garner, rather than Jamaica's Dave Cameron, for WICB president in the March election. The JCA membership overturned the decision 67-22 at the annual general meeting soon afterwards.
False alarm: Cameron told the press in Jamaica that there was "a matter" before JCA president and WICB director Billy Heaven and that the ethic committee would "meet shortly on the way forward". Heaven was never informed and nothing more was heard of the "matter".
Favoured appointment: Carole Beckford, a former aide of Dave Cameron and his campaign manager in his re-election to the presidency, replaced Imran Khan as marketing and communications manager of the WICB. Most directors of the board were unaware of the appointment.
Sad departure: Shiv Chanderpaul's 21 years of battling in the cause of West Indies cricket was brought to an end by heartless selectors concerned over the sudden dip in his unrelenting consistency. Shiv, 41, was adamant he had no intention of retiring. Subsequent events hinted that the selectors' decision was premature.
Captaincy changes: Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin out, Jason Holder in for ODIs and Tests. Only Jackie Grant, in 1930, was a younger West Indian captain. By the end of the year the question was inevitable. Was it too much of a burden for an inexperienced man at the helm of an inexperienced team? Ramdin was then turfed out by Trinidad and Tobago for Reyad Emrit, whose appearance in the Bangladesh Premier League led to his dismissal.
An all-Caribbean conflict: The only three existing pan-West Indian organisations were involved in the decisive debate over how best to reverse the prolonged decline of the regional game and restore its tarnished international image. The CARICOM governments initiated a review of the WICB's structure and governance and appointed the principal of the University of the West Indies Barbados campus, Dr Eudine Barriteau, as its head. The report's recommendation that the WICB be immediately dissolved and its members resign in favour of a new, differently structured board was predictably rejected, leaving the issue unresolved and the future uncertain.
Favourite quote (for obvious reasons): "There is no ban on Mr Cozier. The challenge is, Mr Cozier has gotten to an age - and everyone needs to agree - that he is not actually seeing very well any more. And we are being very, very frank about that. It has nothing to do with him as a person. And we don't believe the quality of the commentary benefits from having him on television. He still continues to do radio."
Cameron at a town hall meeting in Barbados when asked from the floor whether there was any ban on television commentary for yours truly, who did radio commentary on the BBC's Test Match Special for England's three Tests a few weeks earlier.
Forecast for 2016: More of the same.

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