Running on empty

“There have to be changes. Our one-day cricket has been very poor for 12 months. Our thinking and planning is way behind other countries. It needs a fresh outlook. We are out of date and some of those in charge have to go.”

“We are not blessed with lots of talent. But we do not have bad cricketers. The biggest problem is we are not getting the best out of what we have. The hierarchy running this… team have to take some of the blame.”

“The selection of players, captaincy, batting orders and preparation have been impossible to understand… Somebody has to be accountable for those errors.”

“This is a results orientated business. If you do not play good cricket the crowds will not come and the sponsors will not be happy.”

“No long-term planning, poor management and weak decision making all add up to one big shambles.”

The first four quotes are from an assessment by Geoffrey Boycott, the former England batting great, now a respected, straight-talking and insightful cricket analyst. The final quote is from an article by the Daily Telegraph’s cricket correspondent Scyld Berry. Similar sentiments have been uttered by cricket journalists, former cricketers and other pundits on television, in the press and on social media.

West Indies cricket fans will be relieved to know that these damning indictments were not aimed at our regional team but, rather, at England, whose performance at the 2015 ICC World Cup has been even more shambolic than that of the West Indies.

But hold the feelings of schadenfreude. It can be of little consolation that England have been so bad when the West Indies have been, truth to tell, only less bad. Sure, the West Indies beat Pakistan and thrashed Zimbabwe in record-breaking style, but they were facing an undercooked Pakistan early on and the latter victory only served to reinforce the impression that they can bully the so-called minnows when the conditions – short boundaries, flat tracks and ordinary bowling – suit them.

What really counts is how you play against the big boys and the West Indies came up dreadfully short against South Africa and India. Nor should we forget that poor top-order batting, uninspired bowling and a certain complacency in the field occasioned the embarrassment of losing to Ireland, a supposed minnow.

This weekend, however, the West Indies are expected to drub the United Arab Emirates and qualify for the quarterfinals, ahead of Ireland, on the basis of a superior net run rate, unless rain intervenes to cost the West Indies a point or to gift Ireland a point in their last group match against Pakistan, or if the Irish somehow beat the Pakistanis.

This may be somewhat heretical but, given the way the West Indies have approached the World Cup, they do not really deserve to take their place among the elite cricketing nations of the world in the next round. To be brutally honest, many would agree with Ian Chappell’s description of our once great team as a minnow of the modern game. We cannot live on memories of a glorious past; West Indies cricket is now practically running on empty.

Of course, cricket is a funny old game and, in the knockout stages of a competition, anything can happen – one spark of brilliance, one inspired moment, and the form book can be turned inside out. And those diehard West Indies cricket fans, those who claim to bleed maroon, continue to live in hope.

We would dearly love to be proven wrong but, unfortunately, everything said above about England can be applied to West Indies cricket. It is a fairly safe bet that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), under new chairman Colin Graves, will make changes, bowing to the judgment of commentators and former players, public opinion and pressure from the sponsors. The ECB recognises that England need to play attractive cricket to fill grounds and to cut the best television deals. Peter Moores, the coach, Paul Downton, the managing director, and James Whitaker, the chairman of selectors, have a lot to answer for and will be held accountable.

Whatever the result this weekend and beyond, West Indies cricket is in dire need of reinvigoration. We are not sure, however, that we can expect real change, especially now that the self-serving clique comprising the majority of directors of the West Indies Cricket Board have decided to protect their own interests and re-elect the discredited and incompetent Dave Cameron as president. After all, they are accountable to no one but themselves. And that is the fundamental problem afflicting West Indies cricket.

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