By Bryan Davis
former West Indies Test cricketer
The West Indies (WI) vs Afghanistan T20 cricket series was a disappointment after WI won the One Day Internationals three-nil in Lucknow, India. Especially after such a good start, winning the first game convincingly.
It is proper to analyse the failure in order to discover why the side did not capitalise on their advantage gained in the ODIs. There are many things to consider for the poor showing as the basics were in place: the teams were very similar; the captain was the same, just a few changes for injury replacement plus there was a fresh squad chosen to play in the T20.
Although there was nothing serious on the surface to hamper performance, there is always a psychological barrier that must be lifted when changing around teams. There would have been a lack of match practice for those joining the fray, and moving directly into international competition without that vital input, would be a serious issue. The chemistry of the team, all working in harmony, the old idea of not changing a winning team; yet the first game was won by a distance.
There’s a T20 World Cup on in a year’s time in Australia and concerns must be addressed. The time is short! However, I believe it is unacceptable to lose to Afghanistan in T20s or any type of cricket for that matter, as they are still very green to international cricket.
Although the game of cricket is such that swings are inevitable, still, the WI team has crawled to the Afghans for quite a while now. And if the excuses then were because of a bad administration which made players unavailable, that is no longer so.
On the other hand, credit must be given to the Afghans; they brought in newcomers to start blooding for next year’s event and they played well—they ought to be praised.
But, to get back to our boys. Denesh Ramdin was injured for the third and vital game. However, Shai Hope substituted for him and did a marvellous job top-scoring with 52 which brings me to a point I keep emphasising: why do the selectors compartmentalise players?
Not to put too much of a fine point on it, for although at times it might be necessary, as a rule or principle it isn’t attributable.
In my opinion if a batsman is internationally skillful then he is capable in any format of the game; he just must adjust the circumstances to the game he’s playing or the situation of the match.
Why has Hope never been considered for a T20 game and only recently for the ODIs? Hope was chosen for this one because Ramdin was injured, Pooran was unavailable and he was on spot, having just completed the ODIs.
The thinking behind it is that Hope is a Test player which, in the books of the previous selectors, disqualifies him from being a limited overs player. And my question is always, if he’s playing in a Test match and the captain needs some quick runs in order to declare the innings closed, and Hope is not out or next in, isn’t it up to him to accelerate his rate of scoring to carry out the plan for his team on instructions from his captain?
Roston Chase just proved that point, being awarded the ‘man of the series’ in the preceding ODI tournament, although he has in the past been left out of the shorter versions of the game because of the wrong impression that he’s only a Test batsman.
That reminds me, at the time of the introduction of limited overs cricket in the sixties, only fast- and medium-pace bowlers were selected, as the thinking was that spinners would be beaten out of sight. Look at it now since spinners are winning matches in that form, and teams would not consider to be balanced without including at least one slow bowler but usually two.
In all three games, the Afghans won the toss. They batted first and lost the opening game then realising it was tough to chase on the slow pitch, they reversed their decision in the other games. The team that batted second won every game.
On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 excellent, I rate WI performance in that T20 series: Bowling 3; Fielding 2; Batting 1. A long way to go but there’s a long-term plan according to skipper Kieron Pollard. I sincerely hope so!