A dressing down of the West Indies; A way forward

Mon, Nov 5, '18



Windies will have to play it by ear in their hunt to square their 3-match T20I series, when they partake in history at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow; this after losing the first match by 5 wickets to hosts India. If their indecisiveness on this tour is anything to go by, when narrative was available, Windies fans have the green light to panic. What would be a pleasant surprise on this tour, however, would be Windies batsmen giving their young and obviously savvy bowlers some backing.

To see a Windies batsman whose second nature is to rotate strike and play with “soft hands” is to be surprised; but it would be a welcomed addition if the coaching staff attempted to implement this strategy into this young West Indian team. Caribbean players are seen as naturally gifted boundary-hitters, which translates into the ability to take the game away from any opposition at an unsuspecting moment. If this Windies team, having that same ability, was now able to add heavy rotation of strike to their arsenal, imagine the results. In so doing, recall that as Khaleel Ahmed marked his run up to deliver the 18th over of Windies’ innings, the visitors had already soaked up 59 dot balls. Although, no one would be foolish enough to even think to suggest to the reigning and two-time World Champions to change their approach; as they prepare to head into a period of transition in the shortest format of the game, who in that dressing room will assume the responsibility to strive for perfection? The result would be West Indies entering a match 20/30 runs (minimum) better off before a ball is even bowled.

How realistic is this, given that the functionality of Windies’ learning curve, specifically in the shorter formats, is so steep? We have seen the Caribbean side, after being dismissed for a mere 153, largely in part to a swinging ball, come out playing away from their bodies immediately following that display to be dismissed for 104 in the 5th ODI. The lack of initiative and game awareness within this generation of West Indies players is indeed a cause for worry. Imagine there is a swinging ball, yet no one shows initiative; no one bats outside of their crease nor does anyone come across their stumps in attempts of negating the swing. Imagine batsmen being comfortable in allowing Jasprit Bumrah to storm in and have his way with no one trying to put him off–as if Bumrah needs any encouragement.

So far, there has been 2 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20I where the West Indian batsman have not been able to pick Kuldeep Yadav, Kudos to Kuldeep. However, how does Windies explain batsmen who aren’t able to pick the very length he is bowling;? West Indies’ in trouble.

Therefore, it must be reiterate that it is the small things such as; the decision making, the unwillingness to stick to the basics and the lack of appreciation for the nuances of the game which holds the Caribbean team back, so much so that there are:

  1. leg spinners by trade, to not flighting the ball
  2. batmen getting out in a spinners final over, going for big shots when there are sufficient overs remaining subsequent to that over
  3. bowling units watching the opposition bowlers working out a wicket and then coming out reworking it as if they were asleep in the dressing room and
  4. batsmen not inclined to drag their feet in Test matches, nearing lunch, to ensure minimum deliveries faced before the interval.

Until West Indies and their backroom becomes more aware, we will remain in deep, deep trouble.

If the West Indies team is not inclined to employ even these, the things which make cricket “cricket” ,then they are not playing the gentleman’s game. However, admirable (or even a relief) it was to see Powell finally utilize the sweep shot in the first T20I, it took the Jamaican five consecutive innings of underwhelming performances to add a spike to his personal learning curve. Having talent is one thing; a thing which we have found in abundance in likes of Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Oshane Thomas, Nicholas Pooran, Keemo Paul and Obed McCoy. However, nurturing these young men into the spine of a winning unit will require much more than just their respective talents. Pakistan, for instance, was not too long ago as inconsistent a team as the West Indies. It took an almost ‘obsessed’ (with perfection) man, a man demanding more, not just after games but during, from his charges to drag Pakistan up to the standard Sarfraz Ahmed demand for his nation. Who will drag Windies up?