THE criticisms of the West Indies cricket squad and its travelling reserves to represent the Caribbean peoples at the T20 Cricket World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman later this month have elicited a testy response from the president of Cricket West Indies Mr Ricky Skerritt.
Disapproval struck with force and vigour from all corners of the West Indian islands even to a few from the diaspora in North America.
However, Skerritt came bravely to the defence of his selectors.
He said: “A successful World Cup journey requires that all of us; who love and support the game, and who have seriously studied the fortunes of West Indies cricket; come together and send positive vibes to captain Pollard and the members of his squad, no matter what.”
This was in a CWI media release.
We are West Indians and we’ll be supporting WI cricket. The players did not select themselves to defend the WC, not at all. I’d be disappointed to hear that Caribbean folk would give their support elsewhere. One might not agree with the side chosen, hence, there may be doubts as to the outcome of the tournament. However, it doesn’t mean – because it’s a poor selection in the view of past players or present cricket fans – that the supporters want to see their team lose.
Nevertheless, they must maintain the right to criticise any team chosen to play for their country, for the simple reason that that team on the field of play is representing them.
The president continues, “ the selectors have produced a fit-for-purpose squad, which is a rich mixture of experienced leadership, proven match-winners and youthful talent. For the first time in years, the selectors had good options within a growing pool of exciting West Indian talent. But this is a major world tournament, not a development tour.”
Because it is a world tournament and not a development tour, is the reason why the best team should be chosen. Fit and capable of taking the pressure which is what younger members of quality subscribe to.
This is international cricket and not franchise stuff. It requires what is popularly called ‘big match temperament. This is the true test of a cricketer, or any sportsman for that matter; how he performs internationally when the eyes of the world are watching and examining everything he does. That’s when one’s character comes to his aid.
The team that won the T20 WC final in 2012 against Sri Lanka on their home ground, consisted of some of the following players (name, age, score in game): Chris Gayle-33, batting 3, bowling 2 overs 0 wickets for 14: Kieron Pollard-25, batting 2, did not bowl: Andre Russell-24, batting 0, did not bowl (probably broke down again): Dwayne Bravo-28, batting 19, did not bowl: Ravi Rampaul-28 did not bat, bowling 3 overs 1 wicket for 31.
In 2016’s final against England in Kolkata, the following participated:-
Gayle-37, batting 4, did not bowl: Lendl Simmons-31, batting 0, did not bowl: Dwayne Bravo-31, batting 25, bowling 4 overs 3 wickets for 37: Russell-28, batting 1, bowling 4 overs 1 wicket for 21. Pollard withdrew from the tour for rehabilitation work on an injury.
I only highlighted the players who have been chosen to defend the WC title in 2021 and played in the past two finals that we won. Gayle is now 42, Pollard is 34, Russell is 33, Bravo is 37, Simmons is 36.
The only one that came out with some credit is Bravo (Dwayne). And they are expected to perform better with an additional five years seniority?
Their performances are being judged on franchise cricket, a weak version of national cricket and not in the spirit of an international game especially with a winner’s prize like the WC.
I have nothing against older players, however, they ought to be performing at a high standard and they must be physically and mentally fit to take the strain of participating at international level in these days of the agony of having to live in a bubble, plus practise and games.
Currently, we have lost Gayle because he’s failing and can’t deal with it, plus Andre Russell who always has injuries and now he’s in his thirties it will take him longer to recover.
Before I conclude, I want to express my disappointment on the criticisms of the selectors by the cricket authorities of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Aren’t they part of the decision-makers of CWI? Therefore, they’re criticising themselves, for they appointed the selectors.