At least once I would love to be able to write of how happy I am in the performance of the West Indies (WI) cricket team. I would very much like to be in the position to take positives from our cricket much like the captains of our teams!
However, here we are getting beaten by Bangladesh, a side WI ought to be teaching the game! The Asian authorities taught their players well and they improved along the way through sound administration and willing cricketers and coaches!
Does the administration of WI cricket ever discuss the losing cricket that their team is playing and making an effort to improve it? No one can honestly say that the cricketers’ performances are on the agenda, they probably discuss the finances of Cricket West Indies (CWI) and believe that if it’s sound all’s well with WI cricket.
They don’t seem to realise that the continued downhill slide is eventually going to lead to financial problems. There is a lack of top-class players in the Caribbean that can only be alleviated by understanding how cricketers are developed. One can employ whoever one feels but unless proper programmes are introduced, no progress will be made.
WI lost their recently concluded two Test series in Bangladesh with both victories being completed in three days. And the second was so convincing that records for the Bangladeshis were being created fast and furious! And immediately before that series, the long-suffering Caribbean cricketers were being annihilated by India in a three-Test series, losing every one in three days!
This is Test cricket where five days are allowed for the full skills of the cricketer to be revealed in a strategic manner by using tactics against one’s opponent in order to emerge winners.
Two innings are needed in order to combat the vagaries of pitches plus for luck not to play too much of an important part, yet our cricketers seem unable to bat for at least one day.
There is no application, no concentration, no fighting spirit but an approach that bares no embarrassment and no shame. They’re probably leaving that for their fast-dwindling numbers of fans.
Observing Bangladeshi batsmen making mincemeat of our bowlers to the tune of 508 runs on a wicket deemed to assist spin-bowlers (WI lost all 40 wickets, 20 in the first inning and 20 in the second to spinners) and our three spinners not being able to penetrate the approach and defences of their opponents’ batsmen, brought the sad recognition to where WI cricket has been allowed to sink.
West Indies as minnows?
There is a call that started quite softly and has been gaining momentum for WI cricket to retire from Tests and only participate in One Day Internationals (50 overs) and t20 cricket; in other words, limited overs cricket.
Again, this is where we have reached. Afghanistan has, earlier this year, been accepted as having achieved the level required to play Tests, not unlike Ireland which country was admitted to this privileged circle just under two years ago.
That is not the answer; that’s the easy way out and would probably kill the spirit of not only present West Indian cricketers but also the future players of the game. The unique sport of cricket and just what the skill entails, is a work of art where the surface on which the game is played is of vital importance.
Why are bowlers limited in the number of overs they’re allowed to bowl in a limited overs match, 10 in the 50-over game and four in t20? For the simple reason that if a bowler is running through the batting team, the side could make a low score which could end the game with little excitement. One must remember that it began with the hope of enticing more people to come to cricket.
In the early sixties, County cricket—the first-class three-day game in England—was dying through poor crowd attendance and an experiment was made to introduce limited-over cricket at 60 overs per side. This started in 1963. It became a hit and saved the first-class game much to the benefit of the professional cricketer and the game itself!
To sever Tests from the cricket status quo in the WI would be a huge backward step because all the associated states to the International Cricket Council have as their goal being accepted as a Test-playing country.
Again, the reason is simple: the cricketer wants to play Tests because it is the true test of whether he is a good cricketer or not. His batting skill is tested against bowler, captain and fielder; his bowling skill is dependent on his skipper and their fielders plus his ability to be deceptive. The pitch dictates the tactics one uses.
CWI must have the courage and conviction to fight back from where they have found themselves and the answer is for those who are failing, to recognise that fact and let others handle the reins to carry cricket forward in the Caribbean.
Also, we would never live down the shame of becoming a minnow. We have the talent to be back on top, we just need the right methods.