Unflinching to abysmal - The transition of West Indies Cricket
West Indies recently was inflicted by a brutal hammering by the Aussies in the form of a 2-0 defeat, both of which were pretty much one-sided affairs. Or rather I should say it tightened the screws on the already ruptured relationship between the WICB and its players. A revamp isn’t even in the offing.
Controversies have got an inextricable stranglehold on West Indies Cricket at least for the last couple of years. The latest one making the rounds is the exeunt of Darren Sammy, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo and Suleiman Benn from the list of contracted players for WICB. The abjectness of West Indies Cricket is seeing no limits.
The story goes back to 1975 till 2005’s. Teams rummaged over for breathing spaces only to get themselves engulfed by the cunning strategies and hostile gameplay by the Caribbean. The tag of ‘Undisputed Champions’ rubbed off on them as they kept on obliging to their legacy of eking out legends be it Clive Lloyd, Sir Vivian Richards, and Brian Lara with the willow or be it Malcolm Marshal, Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose with the ball.
The bowlers smelled blood and the insult to injuries were perpetrated by the batsman. Kingston Jamaica saw a minor glimpse of the vandalism in 1976 when Bishen Sigh Bedi had to pull out his side after a barrage of bouncers from Michael Holding and Co in a Test Match. The Australians weren’t spared even in their home turf. Curtly Ambrose ripped apart the Kangaroos with a spell of one run and seven wickets in just 32 balls in what’s tagged as the fastest pitch in the world at Perth in 1993.
Sir Garfield Sobers, once the highest individual run scorer in Tests, was probably the craftiest all-rounder of his generation. Brian Lara had the audacity of snatching away the record once from Gary Sobers in 1993 and then from Matthew Hayden in 2004. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a so-called 41 years old man, can grind down any attack and his fitness can give youngsters a run for their money. Sir Vivian Richards, who could whine bowling attacks into nightmares. West Indies Cricket was at the helm of supremacy and invincibility.
It’s 2016 and it’s mayhem in the West Indies Cricket.
Rifts between players and board members, players not accepting contracts - it’s going from bad to worse or can be said from worse to worst.
Currently sitting pretty on the top of the top of the ICC T20 rankings, the flair of Caribbean is reflecting from their demands from all over the world for playing in various domestic T20 leagues. But that’s the sole format they have excelled in. But their Test and ODI performances have gone alarmingly downhill.
Records sure aren’t a full sketch of the performance graph but are something which can’t be dismissed out of sight either. Records have kept their eyes shut at least for the last four years. Out of 35 Test Matches, just series wins vs lower ranked Zimbabwe and Bangladesh totaling to 10 wins and adding to that 19 losses out of which 5 were series-whitewashes is nothing but shambolic. The ODI circuits have been even more pathetic. They are yet to notch an overseas series win in the last four years.
Other than a few players here and there like a lone warrior in Darren Bravo, no player guarantees a place in the side at least in the Test team, not even the experienced Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor. Such is the condition of Caribbean Cricket. And the surprising element is the expulsion of Shivnarine Chanderpaul from the list of contracted cricketers and also at a time when his injection of experience is in dire requisite for a cripple West Indies.
A team once boasted of their pace battery now seems to be falling apart like a pack of cards. When the strike bowler and in fact, it’s most experienced paceman in Jerome Taylor crumbles apart with series figures of 46-2-257-2 at an economy of 5.58, an average of 128.5 and a strike rate of 138, one can effortlessly depict the mauling of the rest of the team. It’s now a few days the series has ended, but the marks of the obliteration of a drab last few years have been deepened by the Aussie annihilation.
They have already hit a new low and I dare say they are looking even further down the barrel. The pulling out from mid-series in 2014 isn’t a secret story. The slapping of unnecessary fines, the denting of relationships with the ICC and other Boards is venomous enough to hammer down nails in the coffin of West Indies Cricket.
Hard to gauge the actual reforms that are actually governing West Indies Cricket. While senior players hemorrhage runs in the domestic circuit, the national team is suffering knockout punches. I have no alternate way of saying this but somewhere in the corner, ego, personal differences may be influencing the game on the face of it.
Leave alone the players, even coaches and the WICB aren’t finding the right shape of sustaining a disruption-free relationship tenure. Phil Simmons, the former cricketer and West Indies coach had publicly blamed the board members in the selection of a squad due to which he had to engulf the bitter flavor of suspension.
The negativity among the board officials, the coaches and the players is showing off badly in the field, where leave alone results, even putting in a fight is becoming an arduous errand for the players. The selection of Jason Holder as the skipper and the ouster of Dwyane Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is beyond any stretch of imaginations.
Other than the T20 rankings, it will be hard to treasure out any kind of positivity in West Indies Cricket. Time hasn’t run out yet and provided the much required mutual consent of all, keeping the team’s interest as a priority, it will then at-least open the door on the possibilities of reforms, decorum and future plans slowly but surely making its way into something substantial. Otherwise, may be a harsh statement too early, West Indies Cricket might be divided into islands like we see in football, athletics and other sports. Within some years, we won’t be surprised if we see a Jamaica tour of India or Australia tour of Trinidad & Tobago.