The Windies (the new official name of the West Indies team) has been a bad One Day International (ODI) team for a number of years. The ODI is the 50-over-a-side international contest that is the format for the Cricket World Cup (CWC) every four years.
When the CWC first began in 1975 it was played above 60 overs per team; however, after the first three competitions, West Indies winning the first two and India taking the trophy the third time in 1983, the Indians submitted a proposal as defending champions, to host the tournament in 1986/87. Because of light issues on the sub-continent unlike the long summer days of England, the number of overs per side was reduced to 50. Subsequently the hierarchy, with the agreement of all the teams, decided to stay with the 50-over format. Since then, every four years, the venue shifted to one of the various participating countries.
In the first three contests, the Caribbean players fought their way to the final, whipping Australia and England convincingly in the first two but going under to India in the third. These were played under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd and while the ratings in Tests at the time were climbing to invincibility, the ODI’s were in a free-fall!
And now the Windies has fallen off the rails to outside of the standings reserved for the top eight teams where they are ninth. And they have never recovered! At the present time, they are not only losers but they don’t seem to have the common sense needed to play the 50-over game!
The frightening thought for all fans of Caribbean cricket is whether they’re good enough to qualify among the minnows! One must recall that Afghanistan and Zimbabwe drew series against the Windies within the last year, and Ireland beat them persuasively in the last CWC held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. While the Windies keep sliding down the slippery slope of world ratings, Ireland and Afghanistan have gained Test status plus the Zimbabweans are improving rapidly. All these teams are showing purpose and character in their approach while the Windies keep revealing an ignorance of the 50-over game.
What is the reason Windies cricketers are being categorised for the separate formats? Not one on the Test team played in the t20 and only four in the t20 are playing in the ODI’s. A good cricketer can adjust to any situation he finds himself in and should not be compartmentalised!
Batsmen playing in a two-inning game of four or five days are at the wicket when they are instructed by the captain that the team will be declaring its innings closed in a half hour. Wouldn’t they have to adjust their batting style to score quick runs to facilitate the declaration? Conversely, if the batsmen at the wicket find that they’re in a position to lose and not win the game, won’t they have to be more cautious in their approach in order to draw the game?
And so with the bowlers when they are called upon to bowl negatively or with more penetration depending on the circumstances of the game, mustn’t the true professional know how to adjust? The same principle applies with the three different formats of cricket. It all has to do with adjustment, and the coach’s job is to ensure that the cricketer is aware of how to play the game.
Windies captain Jason Holder is struggling and lacks the basic tactics and strategy required to lead an international team. It’s not his fault nonetheless as the selectors have to understand that the experiment did not work. He might be a nice boy and all that but he’s a losing captain and not improving. One can pick up from his statements to the press that he’s wading around in a pool that’s too deep for him and he doesn’t know how to swim!
We won two t20 World Cups under Darren Sammy in 2012 and 2016. The skipper didn’t do much but he knitted the players together as one unit and his senior players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard built a foundation that the opposition found hard to crack.
Next year, the CWC takes place in the English summer and the Windies were hoping to automatically qualify by beating England 5-nil in England. Well we’ve seen what has become of that! The selectors therefore have to think about qualifying for the two remaining spots for only ten teams will be participating.
This is no time to think about team building and choosing youth to represent the Windies; take the bull by the horns and select the best side and any cricketers with whom the president of Cricket West Indies Dave Cameron has a dispute he should bury the hatchet.
Windies 50-over cricket has declined gradually since losing that final in 1983 and currently they don’t even know how to play it. An intelligent approach to selection is the key and it has to happen now!