I totally agree with your editorial that the current WIndies cricket team is “not ready” (caption of Mar 25). A commentary in another paper notes that the team is not ready for international competition. No one can disagree. Cricket commentator Tony Cozier described the team’s performance as horrendous, while Trinidad great Brian Davis called it pathetic. Those are understatements. When I was in India last month, disappointment was expressed everywhere about the performance of key players.
WIndies cricket still has admirers even in India and the Caribbean after last Wednesday’s shocking performance. But it is losing fans and sponsors and eventually will lose money, if not already at that point. No one will disagree with the state of the team. Trinidad’s cricket board President says the entire team must go – not quite all, but many must go, including the management. Critiques are important but without solutions they are useless. Yes, the team needs an immediate transformation if there is going to be a turnaround. What needs to be done to make it a world class team again is the real issue. A thorough investigation is needed and key questions should be asked.
The management, selectors and coaches have absolved themselves of any blame. But they are the guilty ones who selected this fourth-class team to play in a first-class tournament. They must be held accountable unless they can show they had objections to the choice of selection; they must all submit their resignations or be fired. How can anyone justify Darren Sammy and Thomas on the team? What are their talents and skills and how would they have helped the team? Sammy struggled for runs with only 54 from six trips to the crease and his bowling was hardly noteworthy. Commentators say he bowls long hop, and was lucky to get wickets with that from minnow teams, while his fielding was miserable. Thomas does not know how to keep wicket; the job was over his head. Denish Ramdin has shown himself to be a better keeper and his runs with the bat over he last couple of months show he would have been a better choice. Darren Danga has been the best captain in the West Indies for years, and his form over the last couple of months shows he should have been in the team. Ottis Gibson said he will persist with Sammy as captain. As Cozier wrote, “the World Cup has been a disaster for Sammy, whose failure as player has been compounded by that of his main batsmen.” After three Tests and 11 ODIs being in charge, and not bringing any value to the team, Gibson says Sammy will remain captain. So should Gibson still be a coach? That is a major problem with the team. People in authority don’t see their own folly when they themselves should never have been there in key positions. If they were not, WIndies might not have done so badly.
WIndies players are lacking the hunger and the desire of a Sachin Tendulkar to score runs and stay at the crease as long as possible. Chris Gayle is never reliable (only 170 runs in six innings). Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar criticized Chris Gayle’s approach to batting saying he batted as if it was a Twenty20 tournament. “Gayle goes out and starts slamming the ball from the first over itself,” wrote Gavaskar in a column. He adds: “This sort of batting does not last against quality bowling and this is exactly what happened” again and again. Gibson and others wanted to teach Ramnaresh Sarwan a lesson (for his inadequate fitness) by dropping him for several matches before the World Cup, but Sarwan batted better (although a poor 155 runs) than most of the others on the team. No logic went into the decision to drop Shivnarine Chanderpaul (144 runs in three outs), the most reliable player and whose average may be the highest or just behind Devon Smith (over 200 runs) for WIndies. Late call-up Devendra Bishoo was the most credible bowler for WIndies in the tournament. He showed the seniors where and how to pitch the ball. No one can explain why he wasn’t included in an earlier game against a minnow team to boost his confidence.
The Windies has talent, but the selectors have been putting up second string teams. What the team needs is discipline, teamwork, productivity, and good leadership – all of which are missing. Against Pakistan, Ganga should be made captain and Ramdin should be brought back to keep wicket. If Gayle is not going to show his class, then it is time to look at Adrian Barath or Sewnarine Chattergoon as a replacement for the longer version of the game. There is need for urgent improvement. And unless Sarwan, Chanderpal and Gayle, the most senior players, show their class, it is time for them to go.