Windies must win to restore the respect they fought so hard to gain throughout this tour

Sun, Mar 10, '19



There will be pride to play for when the West Indies and England square off for the final time on this tour, on Sunday evening in the 3rd T20I. Pride, not solely because the series is already lost, but for the sake of the manner in which the hosts surrendered the fight on Friday evening.

Following Windies’ loss of the first T20I on Tuesday, CWI announced the inclusion of Obed McCoy into the squad for the remaining two games. And with the West Indies one down in the three-match series, common sense said he would walk straight into the team. If this series was just another T20 series for the team, this would not have been an issue; even if McCoy would be replacing Oshane Thomas. However, this is not the case as this series is also being used as preparation for the CWC 2019.  Hence, prior to the 2nd T20I on Friday, it was obvious the West Indies was struggling to balance these 50-over World Cup preparations, while aiming to remain competitive in this 20-over format.

As such (again, prior to the 2nd T20I) the logic of possibly keeping Thomas, who has a very realistic chance – barring injury – of starting at the World Cup, in the pavilion to miss out on another learning opportunity; especially one involving pressure scenarios, when the team is “finalizing strategies” for the Cricket World Cup, was inspected and indeed found wanting.

This was not to say that McCoy’s eventual inclusion in the team on Friday was the wrong move. Quite the contrary, it was, without a doubt, the correct call. Therefore, there could not have been a situation that better epitomized the fracas West Indies faces when deciding the line between being competitive in this series (picking T20 specialists – McCoy) and preparing for CWC 2019 (keeping those who are highly likely to be headed to England in the squad). And while one could justly argue that Thomas is a T20 specialist, there would be inclination to agree, but he was also the most likely to be replaced by McCoy as Cottrell has been a continous threat and a wicket-taker, Brathwaite has been varying his pace to good effect and the other seamer is our captain.

After a fantastic start to the game on Friday, in which the additional hours of fielding drills were quite visibly paying dividends; the hosts had England well and truly on the back foot at 32/4 in the sixth over.  The visitors however, were able to regain a foothold in the game through an 82-run partnership between Sam Billings and Joe Root. Unlike the West Indies batsmen, throughout the limited overs leg of this tour, Root and Billings understood the importance of either of them batting through the innings and just how dangerous a set batsman at the back end of the innings could be. Only on a solitary occasion had Windies managed this feat – this was with Shimron Hetmyer in the 2nd game of the ODI series. 

It was a better display of captaincy from Jason Holder this time around, highlighted by the captain getting Fabian Allen into the attack much earlier than he did in the first T20I. It was pleasing to see Allen get the wickets, this time around, to back up the steady showings he has been putting on since making his T20 international debut. There was nothing steady about the Windies batting, however, which can simply be described as that traumatic event we all experienced together which we proceeded to make a pact never to speak of, for the rest of our lives.

On a lighter note, it will be important for Holder and his men to finish on an high in St. Kitts & Nevis on Sunday, as losing this series 3-0 will overshadow all the good this team has accomplished on this tour.