Where do WI go from here



NOW, having been almost completely outplayed in the just-completed T20World Cup 2021, Cricket West Indies have the tough and probably unpleasant task of rebuilding the image of WI cricket.

In such circumstances, the cry of the hurt and upset fans of Caribbean cricket will naturally call for heads to roll. It is a natural and expected road to follow. People are hurting. They are embarrassed and are all trying to answer questions as to why this disaster happened.

At present, another WI group of players are in Sri Lanka to play a two-Test series against the hosts. The most loyal and optimistic of the local supporters are desiring a positive result in this series if only to be able to manage a smile again.

However, the Lankans knocked WI out of their last chance to save some pride and finish in the top two of Group One of the World Cup, with a final opportunity to qualify for the semi-finals, no matter how distant and impossible it seemed.

Yet, the experts would tell us that this is Test cricket, hence a different format. In this game, there are no limits to the number of overs a bowler can deliver. A team has to have the ability to remove 20 wickets of their opponents to win the game. And, of course, to build a large enough score to make that happen.

Then again, the type of pitches come into play and the time given to win the game is five days. Hence, Test cricket expects a higher degree of concentration in batting, bowling and fielding, thus, a greater level of technique in the art required for those disciplines. One can be certain that the hosts would not only have the home advantage but have the same players representing them in the Tests that did in the T20. That could work to their benefit or can boomerang on them unless they have reliable reserves. For instance, the WI Test bowlers would be fresh without hang-ups, while the Sri Lankan batsmen might just be a little hesitant as fielders are usually used in more attacking positions where a mistake can mean the end of one’s innings.

The problems lie in WI’s batting, as usual. The reason for this is the problem they would encounter with the spinners. Although Sri Lanka has some pretty decent seamers themselves.

In the past, of five Test series played in Sri Lanka against WI, the visiting team lost three and drew two. They lost 2-0 in 2001, 3-0 in 2005, 2-0 in 2015 and drew the other two. This year in the Caribbean, WI challenged the Sri Lankans at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, in two Test matches which were both drawn. The games were quite even with the advantage swaying between both sides, neither bowling side being penetrative enough to stamp the final seal of victory over the other.

Therefore, I would give the advantage to Sri Lanka, having been the dominant partner in the past twenty years, plus, they will be playing at home.

After the Group stages of the T20 World Cup was determined, I’m sure that most cricket aficionados would have expected the Pakistanis to get past the Aussies and England to beat the New Zealanders in the semi-finals.

The Englishmen were playing fluent cricket from the time their campaign began when they bowled out WI for 55 on the first day of the tournament. Then Pakistan revealed their dominance by whipping India by 10 wickets. India, in trying to defend a scoreline of 151/7 in 20 overs, were crushed, as the Pakistani opening batsmen sailed along, never losing a wicket, to claim the game in 17.5 overs.

That the Aussies and the Kiwis qualified to play in the final I believe, was a credit to their general attitude towards winning. Their lower middle-order batting never gave up though the target appeared distant and out of reach. They both won by 5 wickets on the last ball of the nineteenth over. Excellent performances.

WI cricketers could certainly learn from this. The winning attitude, a team never giving up although in a disadvantageous position.

However, to display the skills and technique required to perform with confidence, one needs the discipline of hard, long hours of practice.

We lack the vision, thus, improvement in our approach and cricket intelligence! All we have is the raw talent that must be nurtured.


"Where do WI go from here"

More in this section