BY BRYAN DAVIS
THE West Indies, nations very proud of their cricket history, succumbed to their opposition in their first game on October 23.
At the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates, the innings of the defending champions in the T20 World Cup 2021 imploded. On the opening day of the tournament, postponed from Australia in 2020 because of the dreaded world pandemic, WI were bowled out by England for 55 runs.
What brute force or magic tricks did the Englishmen possess to completely annihilate a WI team in 14.2 overs after winning the toss and sending Kieron Pollard’s team to bat?
To maintain our sanity, the less said about that performance the better. It is remarkable that all the batsmen (“batters” may be a more acceptable description in this circumstance) clawed their way to single-digit scores, with just one getting a double figure, 13, which certainly turned out to be unlucky.
As this drama unfolded before my eyes, with batsmen showing no signs of cricket intelligence, I tried my best to analyse the situation. I recalled the basics of the study of good batsmanship, plus, the application of it in any circumstance a batsman may find himself in, in any format of the game, in various situations.
In all cricket, whether batting, bowling or fielding, practice is the key to success.
I’m more concerned today with batting because of this horrifying exhibition I witnessed in the WI’s batting application and technique.
This team obviously did not do the work required at practice. These players are out of touch, and plainly so. When a team bats that badly, they are either incapable of playing at the standard desired for the game in which they are participating, or, possessing the ability, did not put in the work demanded of them to meet on an equal basis the level necessary to be competitive.
This was noticeable in the warm-up games against Pakistan and Afghanistan. The lackadaisical manner in which WI approached those fixtures made me wonder.
The way a team applies itself to practice is the result one should expect when the real test comes.
Although losing to both teams in the two games, the captain still maintained before the England challenge that his team was full of confidence.
In this case, the practice is way below par.
Any batting team of some quality, regardless of what natural ability they possess, would flounder if their practice sessions are insufficient or of a low standard.
The Caribbean batsmen are not “seeing’” the ball early enough to ensure a suitable stroke. They ought to practise regularly so that subconsciously they will move into the correct position to play the proper stroke. One does things automatically when the action is repeated often enough.
However, that is not happening. They are late on their shots because of not being mentally attuned.
Phil Simmons, the coach, should take his batsmen into the nets to build their concentration with hour-long sessions so that they could correct their faults, see the ball earlier out of the bowler’s hand and time the ball better off the bat. Long knocks in the net develop every aspect of batting to the point that even the running between the wickets would improve, as the batsman’s concentration would include sharpness.
I heard no complaints about a lack of practice facilities.
The skipper should not dismiss the very poor performance by his cricketers lightly. It’s good not to harp on such a bad day of cricket, but nevertheless, he has to recognise the fact that WI are defending champions. Consequently, the worldwide viewership is in the millions, and therefore, for us, the inhabitants of these islands, it’s a source of embarrassment.
Pollard said in his post-match address, “ We have played a lot of T20 cricket around the world, This is something we have all experienced, you’ll have to accept such days…”
That T20 cricket played all around the world is franchise cricket, and the World Cup T20 has not been played since 2016. Don’t confuse the franchise club with one’s country. Playing and representing one’s country is not the same as having fun in a franchise league. An apology should have been made to the fans in the WI with promises to improve one’s game.
It’s not only about the team members and their performances, but also the inhabitants of the Caribbean. It should not be dismissed as just another bad day at the office.
It was a sad day for WI cricket.