In a two-Test series in early July the West Indies (WI) team crushed Bangladesh (nicknamed the Tigers) in both matches to win the series in a most convincing fashion.
The first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua from July 4 – 8 only lasted seven sessions! It was the fifth biggest Test victory ever by a WI team which gave Jason Holder’s men the momentum going into the second Test at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
They continued the good work by another compelling win by 166 runs! These two triumphs meant a lot to the WI cricketers, not only because to win is always an injection of good feeling, but the mere fact that Bangladesh, a side that was accepted into the Test fold some 72 years after the WI, lie above them on the global standings in Test cricket.
Hence it’s a shame after they’ve been playing Test cricket for just 18 years, compared to the WI since 1928, for the Bangladeshis to be above the Caribbean team in the standings. That’s how low our cricket has sunk!
Cricket in the WI has to climb out of this deep pit into which it has fallen the last 20 years, through over-confidence and arrogance, brought on by the overwhelming successes of the invincible years 1980 to 1995.
Cricketers and administrators took it for granted that WI would win regardless of who was representing the team or whoever was governing the fortunes of the game in administration.
Some West Indian cricketers believed that just being selected and walking out in their burgundy caps would bring success. They did not realise the fact that one still had to work hard at practice even without supervision, and one had to maintain fitness at all times without having to be encouraged to do so.
The cocky attitude of the players from the halcyon days seeped into the minds of the ‘new kids on the block’ and before the governing body could understand what was going on, the cricketers, and with them the fortunes of the WI, were in a free-fall!
Suddenly we found ourselves attempting rescue efforts to save the territory from the cricketing quicksand! New administrations came and left, many managers of teams were tried, lots of coaches were hired and fired, and there were numerous cricket committees and others that tried without anyone coming up with the right formula.
So to have reached this stage by being below Bangladesh in the world standings in Test cricket is truly an embarrassment and shame for not only those directly involved in WI cricket but also those who are Caribbean people that enjoy the game and respect their Caribbean brothers and sisters that play it.
However when one’s team is losing, this has to do with national pride and not club cricket; then one is going to stay away from the cricket. Winning or the expectation of winning is what brings the crowds to the ground to see their team, nothing else.
Therefore whipping the Bangladeshis, especially in such a resounding manner, means that our citizens could feel a bit better. It is with some hope they can look forward to another Test series!
Nevertheless it’s not quite enough to bring them back to watch the team. Only the diehards would support the team when it’s down and one must take into consideration the low level and weakness of Bangladesh. But the side must start somewhere and they must be praised for their fine conquest!
Tests against the Sri Lankans
On the other hand the Sri Lankans who stand 6th on the table, managed to escape from a thrashing when they visited before the Tigers. This would have been an ideal series to win as WI are 9th, three below the Lankans.
Having won the first Test at the Queen’s Park Oval by utilising the pitch conditions of quick and pacy, the type that make Asian teams cringe, they won comfortably.
In the second Test Shannon Gabriel was devastating, again in conditions that suited fast bowling. This Test was marred by the actions of the captain, manager and coach of the Sri Lanka side when a ball was changed by the umpires because it was tampered with. However the St Lucian groundsmen could be praised for the fine preparation of a sporting wicket for the contest.
The batting of the West Indies was poor throughout the series and it failed dismally at Kensington Oval, Barbados, after WI had a generous lead of 50 runs on a pitch once more suitable for pace bowling. No one expected them to crumble as they did in the second innings, losing the Test. On a pitch that suited the Windies it seems that the Lankan bowlers used it admirably against the home team batsmen and the series was tied.
The question remains – is WI ready to move up the ladder gradually in Test cricket, taking aim at teams in the lower order, to leap-frog them, progressing up the ladder into a better position?
Or is what we witnessed a false dawn?