With the embarrassing defeat at Hobart Oval last week in the first Test (in two and a half days) and the disastrous performance in the warm-up match that preceded it, is it not time for the selectors of that squad to be questioned about their experiment of choosing youth over experience ‒ the so called Clive Lloyd model? Why is it that only management is being asked to account for its blunders? Is it not time that the selectors also were held accountable and perhaps forced into permanent retirement for sending that weak team to Australia and to Sri Lanka as well? The squad should have had a balance of youth and experience (inclusive of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who knows Aussie conditions better than anyone else with his several tours).
To say the squad, selected by the committee led by Chairman of Selectors Clive Lloyd, has been an abject failure is understating what really has been happening in Australia and in prior series. The team’s recent performance, (several members of the team had played in the three short series preceding the trip) was depressing, pathetic, pitiful, and mediocre, to put it mildly. The team has been underperforming for the entire year and its meek submission in Hobart was not unexpected, as I penned last week. The players were not even competitive and did not attempt to put up a fight in the seven Tests they played against England, Australia, and Sri Lanka, the latest one in Hobart. These are not players who fight tooth and nail for honour, respect and nation. Virtually every player was lethargic and lackadaisical on the field at Hobart as though they were just going through the motions of passing time, giving up the fight on day one and accepting defeat as the ultimate outcome.
The squad badly lacked experience and most of the squad should be sacked along with coaches, selection panel and management. Lloyd should know that he can’t send an inexperienced team to Australia and expect wins; the team needs the very best and a balance of youth and experience.
The team was selected by Lloyd as chair, Simmons, Captain Jason Holder and others with the blessing of the management. Lloyd’s argument was that he wanted new blood ‒ a team of youth. The most prolific run scorer and the most experienced player, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who rarely disappoints, was excluded from contention and the team has been paying a hefty price (humiliated in Sri Lanka, West Indies and now Australia) for that foolish decision. Youth is good and the old guys must make way for the younger players, but these young cricketers need guidance from senior players, none of who has been performing consistently to offer support except for Chanders. Lloyd’s model was bound to fail.
With regard to age, it should be noted that Bobby Simpson was asked to come out of retirement to lead Australia to West Indies at age 45 in the 1970s. Bevan Congdon led New Zealand into his 40s. Clive Lloyd led the team till past 42 when he was not even performing. So why is Chanders being excluded? Several other legends played into their 40s. What good are the youths if they can’t perform and if they consistently fail? The Lloyd formula of 1970s is not viable today since virtually no one is performing.
If the team is selected on performance, the entire team should have been replaced. The selection committee should have known that it can’t simply cut away Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Chanders from the squad without suffering serious consequences. Gayle and Bravo opted for 20/20. At least one (Chanders since he is available) should have been included in the team to buttress youth and inexperience. Chanders and the other two also would have provided guidance and psychological support to the youngsters.
Since Lloyd’s youths have failed miserably, should he not accept responsibility and do the honourable thing that Caricom governments have been asking of the management and step aside? If the selectors are unwilling to resign, the WI management should rescind their appointments.