THE EDITOR: It was almost predictable that the second Test match between West Indies and India would finish inside five days. As it was also predictable that the WI would lose – and by a large margin.
Some people are looking to lay the blame on the selectors, others on the team management and still others on the players. Well, none of those is culpable. However, they all share in the blame.
The point here is that WI cricket has hit a rut. It has been so for a long time now. Yet the promoters keep giving cricket fans throughout the length and breadth in the Caribbean false hopes with rhetoric like “West Indies has a chance to create a major upset in the World Cup” and “India will have a challenge on their hands.” All false hopes.
Now that the Indian tour of the West Indies has come to an end we can look back at the events of the last few weeks and reminisce, as well as find solutions to avoid another good licking as dished out by a very talented and disciplined Indian outfit.
If we analyse the performance of the WI we see that it has lost all its matches on this tour by India – from T20s to ODIs to the two Tests. In all, the WI has chalked up seven loses against Indian with one match being a no-result because of rain. That one was the best result from the WI camp.
The entire approach of the WI team needs to be revamped. In the heyday when WI ruled the roost innovations such as sheer pace bowling and batting it out with brute force may have worked.
Today, however, the rest of the world has overcome the fear of intimidating fast bowling. Batting has evolved into an art of arm and wrist movements to place the ball in the right areas, as well as patience and strategy as to how the game is poised and what is expected of batsmen.
The rest of the cricketing world has run past us like the tortoise and the hare but we are not even making slow progress. We have been at a standstill a long time now.
Case in point. When the Indian team was well poised on the third day of the just concluded Test with over 400 runs in the lead, batsmen Pant and Rahane choose to stem the tide of wickets falling and played patiently, gathering ones and twos until the word came from captain Kholi to score quickly as the declaration was imminent. It was controlled batting and strategic planning.
However, when WI skipper Holder replaced Blackwood in the middle order he immediately set out to give a batting display and scored 13 runs of nine balls. Where is the patience? In the 57th over Brooks, the mainstay of the WI innings, choose to run himself out and leave a very fragile batting order exposed.
It changed from 177 for 6 to 210 all out. The last four wickets contributed a paltry six runs. In the entire second Test match 20 WI wickets could only muster 327 runs. This is highly unacceptable.
According to the great Sir Vivian Richards, “we need to do some serious soul searching and put a check on this embarrassment.” Why don’t we take a page from the Indian team?