AT LAST, a flickering light of hope! West Indies won the final game of the three-match T20 series against New Zealand at Sabina Park, Jamaica on Sunday. It was a convincing victory that helped WI to finally win a game.
The good news is not only that, but the manner in which it was performed. Congrats to all the players and to stand-in captain Rovman Powell. They have certainly broken the ice after losing the last 12 of their last 13 white-ball home games.
Although it is only one game at the end of a dead rubber, still, one can be positive and believe that there is enough cricket ability in the Caribbean to give us a starting point, a renewal of confidence, so to speak, knowing that WI cricketers still have the spirit to win.
However, they must approach their jobs with the correct work ethic that would include hours of practice sessions.
It was refreshing to see the quiet, confident and tactical manner used by the Windies batsmen, Brandon King, Shamarh Brooks and Powell, on the pathway to achieving their target. The bowlers, especially Akeal Hosein and the inexperienced Dominic Drakes, bowled exceedingly well to limit their opponents.
It will be interesting to reflect on this performance when the three ODIs come off this week. The ODIs will be contested in Barbados. Although slightly contrasting in approach, they will surely send a signal as to where we stand! Of concern will most certainly be the team’s make-up.
All these pathetic performances by the West Indies cricket T20 team, plus the absurd rationalisations of its captain, Nicholas Pooran, are sinking the confidence and burying the imagination of the West Indian public to such a low level that one wonders, not when, but if, WI cricket will ever be a force to be reckoned with again!
The WI supporters’ group is dwindling. The evidence can be seen by the number of fans who have turned out for their games. And it has nothing to do with the pandemic. It has to do with the lack of proper batting, bowling and captaincy that is being revealed. The way WI are playing is getting worse and worse. They are plunging downhill at a frightening rate and no one seems to have the answers to stop the rot, instal the lifesavers and pull them back up to the top.
An excuse that could be used by CWI (Cricket West Indies) is the pandemic; however, the virus covered the earth without sparing any continent. Recently, Bangladesh whipped us in an ODI series, India beat us mercilessly in both ODI and T20 series, and New Zealand have slaughtered us in the first two T20s, taking the three-match series with them.
And where does it all begin? With the players and how they are led. Leadership has to be of a high quality with a certain amount of knowledge and wisdom, plus the courage required to carry the team forward from a discouraging and low-confidence situation, to make them believe and think like winners. It’s tough; however, cricket intelligence has to be used.
The way WI are playing, it’s difficult to accept that there’s a competent captain, enlightened cadre of coaches and courageous selectors. The players can be easily judged on the field of play by their efforts. Ultimately, their efficiency stems from their coaches; the selection of the captain and his players are in the judgement of the selectors. Interestingly, the skipper and coach, Phil Simmons, are two of the three selectors, and the third is Desmond Haynes, chairman.
At no time does practising in the nets enter the captain’s vocabulary or, dare I say, his thoughts. This is different from practising on the pitches in the outfield. When practising in the open field, the batsmen try to hit sixes off almost every delivery. A waste of time!
Pooran says: “We keep chatting about the same thing over and over in team meetings and whenever we come out on the cricket field we just seem to let ourselves down, and obviously that’s the frustrating part when trying to execute.”
That’s your problem right there, skipper! Chatting about the same thing over and over, instead of practising the right technique over and over! Your team is spending too much time in the dressing room discussing plans and their execution, instead of getting out in the nets and practising for hours, the proper technique of positional play.
Once in the correct batting position, defensive and attacking strokes become easier to execute,
Sunday’s win is a start.