WI CRICKET STILL AT ITS NADIR   …And the Future Doesn’t Look Any Brighter

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West Indies suffered yet another defeat at home when they were beaten 2 – 1 in a three test match series against Australia.   The final result was no real surprise to most as the World’s #1 rated team did what was expected to a team rated #8 on the ICC chart. These ratings are scientifically tabulated and orchestrated over a period of time and the most accurate barometer by which to judge teams.

True, Australia has fallen off significantly by losing about half a dozen excellent players during the past 3 years.  West Indies on the other hand showed noticeable improvements over the past year or two and gave Australia a more serious challenge than was expected during the recently concluded series.  Be that as it may our team still do not possess the knock-out punch or stamina that is required to overcome this present Australian team in a test match series.

Recent comments by former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner indicating that our fast bowlers are lazy, has been rather brave, yet truthful.  Such remarks from an individual who actually spearheaded a most fearsome and lethal attack speak volumes and it’s about time some of our former batsmen speak forth with candor and without fear.

Now the 5 matches ODI series is underway, one must take a good look at what is presently taking place in West Indies cricket.  Captain Chris Gayle has been suffering with a groin injury for in excess of two months and have played very little cricket during that period.  Other players also have injuries and are far from being fully fit.  Yet, it seems ironic that with all these injured players on the list, no one else is given a chance to play.  Our selectors, commentators and sports journalists all seem anxious and delighted to include a handicapped Chris Gayle the team rather than a fit replacement.  No serious mention about his physical and mental readiness has been issued.

This happening begs for serious questions.  Is Chris Gayle such a good player that even though injured, out of form and in obvious pain, he is still capable of holding a place in the West Indies team?   Is Chris Gayle such a good captain, team member and leader that his services are in more demand than another fit and capable player?  Based on his records as player and captain, one must agree the answer is, overwhelmingly, NO!  However, if the selectors disagree with that answer, our cricket is at a lower level than it is rated at this moment.

It is not always a good practice to single out players for poor performance, as each and every one will have bad matches.  It must, however, cross the mind as to why the selectors include Keiron Pollard in the team.  Could it have been a mistake that they really meant Keiron Powell?  It was during the 2007 World Cup series here in the Caribbean that Keiron Pollard was surprisingly given the opportunity to represent the West Indies.  His performance then seemingly embarrassed not only himself and the selectors but also the West Indies cricket fans. Now, with no statistics to show any improvements he is back in the middle.

There was also Amit Jaggernauth making his test debut during the test series. The right arm off-spinner has been impressive over the past few years and rightly deserved the opportunity to represent the West Indies. Alas! As has happened before with so many spin bowlers before, he was cast aside after just one match and who knows, he might never be given another opportunity.

West Indies cricket, I thought, could never amaze any more, but we always manage to come up with something unthinkable, unbelievable and disgraceful.  How long before we see a meaningful change for the better in West Indies cricket?

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, I must shower praises on Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo. They have given their all, their efforts and accomplishments have been worthy and richly deserving.

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor need to lift their consistency and performance level in order to reach the next acceptable step while the other selected players have a very long way to go before we can seriously contemplate beating any of the 3 top ranking ICC teams in both test and ODI’s.

Our future looks bleak but there are flickering hopes.