The games are over for West Indies cricket team at the World Cup and so too should be the ones the West Indies Cricket Board has been playing with respect to development of the regional team and the regional standard on the whole.
It has been pellucidly clear for years why Windies standards have dropped to basement levels in international competition and the latest embarrassment in the sub-continent was another round in the cycle of failures that will continue to revolve unless the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) makes player-development its top priority.
If it doesn’t get it by now, then the board, led by President Julian Hunte, needs a few sessions of combined attention from Dr Phil and Dr Oz to have their minds straightened out in an effort to start thinking straight.
This West Indies team that exited the quarter finals via the Mirpur stadium Wednesday after a 10-wicket humiliation by Pakistan was exposed once again as a batting catastrophe.
This has been its problem for many years.
Yet the board has never made any serious attempt to equip the team with specialist support staff to remedy the deficiencies.
West Indies has never had a batting coach to begin with and the losses are continuing to multiply to the extent that the team dropped below Bangladesh in the world ODI rankings – a team that was as far away from qualifying for international competition as the distance from Dhaka to Demerara, when Clive Lloyd lifted the first World Cup championship trophy in 1975.
That golden era of success started by Lloyd ended in the mid 1980s. With it went the batting prowess that has denigrated so badly the team lost 13 ODI’s in a row to major teams and cannot win a Test match against higher rated squads going on four years.
While deficient bowling is also responsible for the demise, the batting is clearly the bigger of the two liabilities within the team.
In India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, West Indies’ nonexistent technical expertise against spin was palpable.
We failed to beat England and were destroyed by Pakistan, South Africa and India simply because our batsmen had no clue to combat the turning ball.
Imran Tahir, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal among others, made rabbits out of the batsmen.
And in the rash of defeats over the years, swing bowling has also been the team’s Achilles heel.
It is so because the batsmen do not have proper footwork which makes their defense negligible. Foot work is the essential ingredient to successful batting and the stats bear out West Indies meltdowns against the top teams.
Chris Gayle, Keiron Pollard and Devon Smith might get away with sporadic cameos from soft bowling attacks.
But a good batsman with the right balance of defensive and attacking capabilities can produce consistent scoring against good and ordinary types of bowling.
West Indies had none over the last five weeks.
It is said even golfers require good footwork and the inability of the Windies team handlers to solve the problem is as obvious as the next rain storm before a Bourda game. There is no batting coach among a threadbare coaching staff – if it can be so described.
Head coach Ottis Gibson, an ex fast bowler, and David Williams, a former wicketkeeper, comprise the lineup, with the latter’s duties a mystery because an assistant coach, which he is so designated, can mean anything from baggage boy to net practice session overseer.
Every other top team in world cricket has specialist coaches to work on the various departments of their game.
Although England’s batting record in recent times can put West Indies’ to shame, they still have Graham Gooch as batting coach. South Africa has Duncan Fletcher, Australia uses Justin Langer, India’s head coach Gary Kirsten – the former South Africa opening batsman, does the job for them and the list goes on.
While those teams have been adding to their team’s support staff, the WICB is continuing to squander its money, creating more baggage at its Factory Road office.
Not too long ago a number of development officers were added to an already useless list, now there is a security chief who follows a widespread clubs’ grant scheme for the entire region.
Clearly the Hunte administration has its priorities wrong.
And you get the impression it is deliberate given the WICB’s track record of shenanigans when bartering for appointments and acquiring cheap points, for election votes are the age old tactics.
Now, with a former career politician in charge, the intensity of these unhealthy practices is increasing. Even Gibson seems to have joined the band by publicly condemning the batsmen when he should be calling for more backroom support staff.
All the time the poor Windies’ fan is continuing to have broken dreams as the team limps from one World Cup failure to the next and from one Test match drubbing to the next.
Talent is not a problem in West Indies cricket, but honing of that talent has been sadly lacking for too long. The Pollards, Bravos and Russells could all be world beating batsmen with specialist coaching.
But the game could soon be up for the board barterers and cheap points grabbers for if the WICB does not invest more on its teams, they will soon find their golden goose ousted to the soon to be created lower tier of international teams.
Then all the money, prestige and perks for the boys, earned from World Cups and Tests, would disappear faster than you can say “done deal.”