TWO RECENT events have triggered a lot of reflection on the dire state of West Indies (WI) cricket. The first is this month’s disappointing performance against India. The second is Dwayne Bravo’s announcement of retirement from international cricket.
The whitewash in the test matches against India was bad enough. But it was swiftly followed by further defeats in ODIs which saw India post their biggest win against the WI. Commentators noted the clinical manner in which the WI was dispatched, with Courtney Walsh citing poor shot selection in the 1st Test.
“As much as there is inexperience, you would still want to see a better effort,” Walsh said. The WI lost 14 wickets on the third day in Rajkot to lose by an innings and 272 runs. WI captain Kraigg Brathwaite lamented the lack of partnerships from the batting unit, the lack of trust in the defence and a lack of aggressive batting, all of which was ably exploited by the opposing team. This latest performance in the 4th ODI was simply embarrassing after holding their own in the previous three ODIs.
While the shorter formats of the game have sprung much excitement regionally, this seems to have been at the expense of more traditional forms. The WI dominated all formats of the game between 1976 and 1995, but the table has turned. There is no firepower in the bowling, no panache in the batting. As the team’s record thus far for 2018 shows, the days when teams like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Pakistan could be easily defeated are long gone.
Some say part of the problem is a lack of big-name players due to internal wrangling between sportsmen and administrators. Marlon Samuels, Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Shivnarine Chanderpaul all experienced issues with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), which has now rebranded itself as Cricket West Indies (CWI).
Despite the new name, it’s hard not to feel the many feuds over pay, sponsorships and contractual arrangements of the past will continue to be an issue. Such is the ego of the WICB/CWI that they have repeatedly paid little heed to the efforts of Caricom to intervene.
“The WICB and territorial boards have been able to ignore the extent to which their operations lack transparency and accountability because the current structures do not respect these basic tenets of good governance within their operations,” said a Caricom committee set up to probe the game in 2015. “The WICB and its attendant executive, managerial and administrative frameworks are incapable of turning around West Indies cricket.”
For some, the end of Bravo’s career is a reminder of the talent that has been squandered. He became a casualty of the events of 2014, which saw players pull out of a tour of India in protest. Four years later, with a return to India and a convincing Test defeat there, what have the selectors achieved by punishing players? Let’s see if the ODI series can be drawn tomorrow and what transpires in the T20s.