Preview: BANvWI 2nd Test

Thu, Nov 29, '18


Windies v Bangladesh

The loss of Shannon Gabriel might yet prove costly in Windies’ quest to square their two-match series versus Bangladesh when the second Test bowls off in Mirpur on Thursday evening. West Indies will have happy memories of the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, winning on their two previous visits in 2011 and 2012. Bangladesh, on the other hand, will be confident having won three of the last four matches hosted at this venue dating back to 2016. The narrative remains the same from Chittagong with a lot resting on first innings performances. Of the previous seven Test matches hosted in Mirpur, the team choosing to bat first has come out victorious on five occasions.

Windies’ Depleted Bowling Attack

Windies’ bowling has, no doubt, been its strong suit having only failed to claim fifteen (15) of a possible *one-hundred and fifty (150) wickets in Tests throughout 2018. It will only be the second time in 2018, however, that the Caribbean men will be asked to do battle without two of their three resident seamers–Gabriel/Holder/Roach. With Raymon Reifer, Shermon Lewis and Keemo Paul as possible replacements, so much more will rest on the shoulders of Kemar Roach.

A test awaits Hope in Mirpur

Windies’ batting has yet to come to the party on this subcontinent tour; lasting sixty (60) overs just twice, this after six (6) innings. With Shai Hope’s current form, one cannot help but feel that his young career is heading to a crossroads. Hope is the latest spark of light in a sparse pool (puddle even) of genuinely talented batsmen to represent the West Indies in recent times. Many of whom, however, failed (not dissimilar to his current situation) to fulfil their potential. To put Shai Hope’s situation into perspective, here is a contextual comparison between himself and current teammate and Windies opener–Kieran Powell.

The pair of Hope and Powell has batted in thirty-three innings since Powell’s return to international cricket in 2017; with Hope amassing 1065 runs at an average of 33.28, while Powell has helped himself to 929 runs at an average of 28.15.

However, when we watch either batsman, ignorant to the statistics, we continuously draw the conclusion that Hope simply oozes class. On the other hand, there has recently been murmurs for Windies to move on from Powell and seek another opening partner for Kraigg Brathwaite. Although this might be justified, what has been the difference between Hope oozing class until he gets to thirty and Powell doing everything in his power to get out after getting a start? Age? Experience? What’s that saying, “To whom much is given, much will be required”?

To clarify: the argument is not, ‘we tolerate Hope so give Powell a break’ but rather, demanding more from Shai Hope. A batsman as talented as he is should not be given more slack because of his talent, but the opposite–we should be expecting more from them. Top cricketing nations hold such talented players to the highest standard. Therefore, we should not remain silent, when arguable our most talented batsman at the moment is performing on par with someone whose head we are calling for. That is not to say, should Thursday evening in Mirpur become the turning point in Hope’s career, fingers should be pointed at those who dared to hold him accountable at a period when his performances were not up to scratch. Neither is it to say that there is a lack of belief that he will eventually get it right.

As most Caribbean sports fans support European football teams; when those players are not performing up to standard, what do we do and say? What is the difference? Is it that we are less passionate about West Indies Cricket?

This is why it was so pleasant to see Hope among the runs in the ODIs versus India, because we are all awaiting the fulfilment of his potential. Until then, Hope will continue to be answerable for every under-performance.

*only including the times oppositions were forced to bat