“Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty” they said, and West Indies cricket fans have come to know this quite well about their once mighty cricket team that was feared by opponents at home and abroad. Fans no longer have the confidence in the team which was at the top of the game for more than a decade but has now crumbled so badly and failing so miserably.
The latest embarrassment came against the number 12th ranked Ireland, who registered their first series win and only third match win against the West Indies last week. Ireland even defeated the West Indies without two key players who were sidelined because of COVID-19.
But even with the uncertainty of this glorious game, few would agree that a West Indies team with so much talent, and players with so much international experience would be humiliated by Ireland.
While many were hoping for a win against a country with only 176 One-day matches in comparison to West indies’ 834, the history of the Caribbean side over the last ten years showed a pathetic journey of failures and degradation by teams considered to be underdogs.
Horrible batting history over the last ten years.
Between 2012 and the latest defeat by Ireland this month, the West Indies lost 78 One-Day Internationals (ODI) and won only 45. This is outside the World Cups and multi-nation tournaments. They have won only eight series in the decade, of which only two of the teams, Sri Lanka and New Zealand being among the top ten in the world. They managed to win series against Bangladesh and Ireland twice, while winning once against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. Between 2014 when the West Indies defeated Bangladesh 3-0, they did not win another ODI series for six years when they routed Afghanistan by the same margin.
While the losses to the lower ranked teams are shameful, one team, Bangladesh seems to have the ticket to a West Indies defeat. Over the last ten years, Bangladesh has beaten the West Indies four times with the most devastating being a 3-0 whitewash in 2021.
The record pales in comparison to the West Indies of the 1970s and eighties when opposing batsmen dreaded its bowlers and their batsmen punished opposing bowlers whether the bowling was good or bad. Those were the days of Ambrose, Walsh, Holding, Roberts, Garner, and Croft. It was when the opposing team’s total needed only time to be surpassed, with the batting prowess of Richards, Richardson, Greenidge, Haynes, Kallicharran, and Lloyd. It was a time when players represented their country because they felt the pride and demonstrated it as well.
Views of the current captain
Current captain of the West Indies ODI team, Kieron Pollard, said the defeat by Ireland is a “bitter pill to swallow.” He said: “I think overall when you look back over the latter part of 2021 and throughout 2021 into 2022, I think we have a batting problem in the Caribbean in getting runs on the board. We can’t hide from that.” Obviously, Mr. Pollard is not a student of his own team’s history. This is not a one or two-year problem. It has been this way for decades.
Pollard went on to tell the now impatient cricket-loving public of the Caribbean and its diaspora, that the fix is “not going to happen overnight and it’s unfortunate we’re in a situation.” In his wisdom the captain suggested that they “need to really sit down and put [their] heads together and think seriously about where [they] want to take West Indies cricket.”
One would have thought that over the last twenty years players and administrators would have had that talk. And while we agree that talking is important, it is pointless if proper action that results in winning, does not occur. This type of cricket is not played for experience or to show how players can play. Winning is expected and it is also important.
One of the problems with West Indies cricket is that too many of its stars are conditioned for the most lucrative, popular, and shortest form of the game – T-20. And they have done well at it too. They have even won two world cups in this format. Teams all over the word clamor for Caribbean players. Just ask Andre Russell, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Evin Lewis, and Chris Gayle. The latter has the most T-20 records.
Coach Phil Simmons’ assessment
Coach of the West Indies, Phil Simmons said in a recent interview blames the dreadful batting on shot selection and assessment: “It is bad shot selection and that comes down to assessing the situation and the game. You need guys to bat for a while and just play and then guys still getting out with big shots; when you need guys to bat for a while they getting caught on the boundary; when you need guys to bat for a while they get caught by playing big shots, so I think assessing the situation and the game is a huge part of the batting failure,” he said.
Simmons’ assessment is an indication that West Indies’ batsmen may be suffering from psychological problems. They cannot hold their heads down long enough or concentrate on getting to a target with strategic batting. Every shot for them must go over the boundary as there is a desperate haste to reach the finish line. But what sense does it make if you bat fast and furious but still fail to reach your destination?
How Former captain Clive Lloyd sees it
Former captain Clive Lloyd said recently in an article on www.kaieteurnewsonline.com, that T20 is destroying one of the promising stars for West Indies, Shai Hope, the vice captain of the team. Lloyd said: “I don’t think T20 cricket is for Shai Hope ….he would get into bad habits; it’s destroying his cricket. I know it’s like you want to take away money from people, but the point is that he should not be playing T20. He should have gone into an ‘A’ team, he should be playing the longer game, he needs to spend more time in the nets with a bowling machine.” Obviously, Lloyd feels that West Indies’ batsmen need more tenacity and concentration for longer periods at the wicket.
Probably Cricket West Indies should take Lloyd’s recommendation and implement it for all its batsmen. Most Caribbean people can’t bother to listen or watch their team in action anymore. The experience is just too painful. It is time the players and administrators of West Indies cricket stop the pussyfooting around and bring back the days of glory to one of the most cohesive movements among Caribbean people.