There are many ingredients that go into the mix in order to emerge as a fine cricketer. Professional cricket is tough, not unlike any other profession in which the young man or woman would like to graduate. It requires lots of application to the subject matter so that one can understand the whys and wherefores of the business on which one would like to focus.
I am disappointed to the point of frustration and pain when I witness the ongoing decline of the West Indies (WI) cricket team as the years sail by. It makes me sad to recall the great men from the distant past who sacrificed time, finances and great effort to be globally recognised as a collection of cricketers that would put our disparate islands on the cricketing map of the world! It is gloomy and depressing to observe the way we succumb to other teams as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.
India has crushed the WI in their tour of the sub-continent in the Tests, the One Day International series and then in the t20 rubber. India’s cricket is now so dominant to the Caribbean side that they could afford to drop their main players and replace them by substitutes for the last game of the three-match t20 series, who manfully stand up to the task and grab a win off the final ball of the game to secure a t20 whitewash of the World champions! It is difficult to believe that WI is the side that won the last t20 world tournament in 2016.
Throughout the tour we, the long-suffering West Indian fans, have to keep hearing over and over again the same mantra from the coaches and the captain of what would happen when they get it right, that they’re a young team and all these mistakes are somehow allowed to occur because it is a learning experience for the youngsters.
I want these people to know that once you’re selected to represent your country, there’s nothing to gain by those excuses. It means that you are good enough to play at that level or you would not have been chosen. Is it such a rude awakening that a player selected to play cricket for his country must expect a gestation period?
Those are nothing but excuses and if the selectors choose someone to play for their country, don’t come back and say that he is still young and learning! No, Messrs Selector, Coach, and Captain, that is not acceptable. Whenever they reach that stage, they ought to be ready!
That brings me back to the coaches, captains and what they say. Jason Holder for instance, after the WI registered their lowest total ever in an ODI against India of 104 in the fifth and final game which WI had to win to draw the series, said: “I think we just needed to have a little more application and probably get ourselves in a little longer. I still felt like it was a good enough pitch that we could have made in excess of 300 runs if we had given ourselves a chance.” What does he mean by “if we had given ourselves a chance”?
He blames poor shot selection yet there isn’t an instance where he suggests that his team’s batting skills are poor! Obviously he can’t do that because he would be laying blame on the coach for lack of preparation!
I would like to know the reason for Carlos Brathwaite’s decision when, after compiling a good score of 181 for 3 in the final t20, he decided to bowl his four leading bowlers one-over spells at the start of the Indian innings. Why?
There was no call for any special tactics and using Khary Pierre with the first over, leaving Oshane Thomas chomping at the bit, he should have known the Indian openers didn’t fancy him too much.
Now and again as a tactic, a captain could use his slow bowler with the new ball but this was a case with two useful, new ball bowlers, one quite quick and the other, Keemo Paul, accurate and swinging.
The captaincy of Holder and Brathwaite is poor. However, I don’t see anyone else around that looks as if they have any idea of strategy and tactics to lead the side.
Even the coach Stuart Law is talking of unreasonable matters: of batsmen not getting among the runs, without mentioning that their footwork is poor, and their heads when playing attacking strokes are in the air and their eyes are not on the ball. It is plain to see! Maybe that’s why Law is leaving. Maybe he can’t get through to his players!
On the outskirts there is Phil Simmons who was fired because of his criticism of the selectors but he is the only one making sense.