No harm in taking CWI & Pollard at face value

Mon, Jan 13, '20

by KRISSANIA YOUNG

Commentary

In a series of surprise inclusions and exclusions, old foes in familiar environment, and increases in ‘experience’ in individual learning curves; the West Indies remained focused to complete the desired whitewash of their three-match ODI series against Ireland, moving them to within a point of 8th placed Sri Lanka in the ICC ODI Rankings (as of the latest ODI team Rankings on January 11th). From Evin Lewis being left stranded on 99, to Sheldon Cottrell’s last-gasp series-winning 6, the hosts entertained while doing so.

Yet, with so many moving pieces still in this WINDIES ODI team, Phil Simmons and company are not only faced with the task of solving this jigsaw, but striking a balance while doing so. Given the experience of Caribbean fans, Simmons’ acknowledgement of the previously stated fact, is not too small a matter to be grateful for.

The proof of this acknowledgement has come in the form of the rotation of the quality crop of young seamers at our disposal, at the earliest opportunity of convenience (after ensuring series wins against both Afghanistan and Ireland).

One might even argue that the surprising omission of Shimron Hetmyer—which the captain described as a ‘tough decision’, his reason being “we want guys to be very, very hungry because there are other guys knocking on the door so we can’t relax and take anything for granted”—was also an acknowledgement of the massive task on hand.

Contrary to the exclusion of Hetmyer, the surprising inclusion of young Oshane Thomas for the final ODI on Sunday, was an exhibition of common sense in decision-making in the dressing room that has sometimes been without in Caribbean cricket.

While, many may have written off the Jamaican as ‘pace without brains’, it is a relief that such ignorance has not made its way to the West Indian hierarchy, and that the vision of the damage that the skill set of Thomas can cause on the international scene, is very much alive.

Yet, how far will this rebuild, and what is being dubbed as ‘Pollard’s West Indies’ go, if their star batsman continues to struggle at home? The class of Shai Hope is not often questioned, and by the very law of averages, I think it is safe to say that the wicket-keeper batsman is class. Still, if we are to break up his average into ‘home’ (31.57 in 28 matches) and ‘away’ (62.84 in 47 matches) what shall we label him then?

We find that good teams— Winning teams— The best teams in the world are first dominant at home. And here the West Indies are, with the aim of rebuilding an empire, with the defining characteristics of the team’s home advantage—pace and bounce—as their most prolific batsman’s weakness.

Fortunately, WINDIES were not made to chase anything above 250 in this series. Therefore, the contributions of Evin Lewis (with 208 runs) and Nicholas Pooran (averaging 56 in the series), were enough to get them over the line. But when they return home to face the number 3 ranked New Zealand in July, what then for Hope?

Hayden Walsh Jr. continues to make strides amid Pollard’s ploy to handle him with kid gloves, our young seamers are being given game time, Simmons seems hell-bent on pushing Hetmyer to his full potential and Jason Holder is being given much needed ‘rest’ by CWI. We have no reason not to take all these ‘strategies’ at face value.  The West Indies have won seven of their last nine One-Day Internationals: the corner has not been turned, but the signs are positives.

 

 

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