WI cricket has lost the plot
THE shame and embarrassment continue. The West Indies cricket team has been trounced by South Africa in a two-Test series which came to its conclusion last week.
It is not only the annihilation of the team that is a disgrace, but the non-performance of its batsmen that actually brings that sense of shame and ignominy to Caribbean people.
One cannot help but be reminded of the five-nil defeat suffered on the 1998/99 tour of that country when Brian Lara was captain.
It was the first time that WI, in their proud history, had ever suffered such a hiding.
There were many reasons for it, but the view that I’ve always held was the fact that the players thought they were greater than the game.
Hence there was no solid preparation before the tour, as that time was spent in a hotel room in London arguing for better wages. But that’s another story.
This time, there wasn’t a wages issue, however: more of a consequence of the cricket administration.
After I noticed certain decisions being made, I concluded that those responsible for WI cricket have no knowledge of the game of cricket, and therefore are not capable of making the right decisions to build the game and move it forward in the WI.
Doing some research, I came upon the WI tour to England in 2000. I read through the late Tony Cozier’s excellent review of the tour, plus some English writers’ summaries of the five Test matches.
WI won the first Test handsomely by an innings and 93 runs. Jimmy Adams, the captain, got 98, in a total of 397. Lara scored 50 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul 73. England could only manage 179 and 125, mainly through the pace bowling of Courtney Walsh, who collected eight wickets for 58 runs.
The following Test was lost by WI in three days, at Lord’s, considered the headquarters of cricket. Leading by 133 in the first innings, WI collapsed in a heap for 54 in their second turn at the crease, leaving England to get 188 to win the game and level the series at one-all.
A combination of over-confidence and superiority created their downfall. To quote Cozier in the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2001, “Instead, complacency and inspired England fast bowling got the better of them and, in a couple of mad, breathtaking hours, before packed stands, West Indies were routed for 54, their lowest total against England.”
They went on to draw the next Test, then lose the fourth in two days. This match was the first two-day Test win in 54 years and also the first win by an innings for England over the WI in 34 years.
What did the WI tour management do in these circumstances?
There were no cricket practice sessions called – and the next game was against Somerset County Club in five days’ time. Five days after the county game would be the fifth and final Test match.
Needless to say, the game was lost to the county by 269 runs – a huge margin of defeat – through a shortage of practice sessions.
England won the fifth Test by 158 runs, and WI cricket might as well have been buried. It was killed by the weak management of the team.
The manager of the team on the tour was Ricky Skerritt, the president of Cricket West Indies for the past four years.
He has lived up to his promise that a president should not serve more than two terms. On March 25, CWI will vote in a new president. When Skerritt became president he made the following appointments:
Jimmy Adams, as CWI’s director of cricket.
Adams left Kent County as coach to take the job without doing anything noteworthy at Kent. He has proven a huge disappointment with WI.
Coach Roger Harper, Skerritt’s choice as the region’s chairman of selectors or, as renamed, the lead selector. He was so ineffective he had to be replaced.
He also stuck with trainer Ronald Rogers, and despite the numerous injuries that West Indian bowlers suffered, he is still there.
Again, as the great Sir Donald Bradman wrote in his book, the Art of Cricket, the best fitness training for a cricketer is playing cricket. Exercise without bowling, batting and fielding will not assist the cricketer.
Skerritt, as CWI president, surrounded himself with losers from that ill-fated 2000 tour of England, to plot WI cricket’s future. And unfortunately, they lost the plot.
"WI cricket has lost the plot"