On Target
November 13, 2009
Tough times made tougher

The West Indies has not beaten Australia in a Test series since 1993. The period spans seven series, with the Aussies winning 20 Tests to the West Indies’ six.

More so, since the beginning of 2000, West Indies has won 18 Tests and suffered 57 defeats in 105 matches. Five of the Test match wins have come in the last five years. The West Indies’ record in One-Day Internationals since 2000 includes 94 wins and 120 defeats in 229 matches.{{more}}

So, as the regional hopefuls embarked on their journey “Down Under” earlier this week, there was no reason for the people of the Caribbean to be very optimistic, if there can be a reverse.

The temporarily halted rift between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) surely will impact on the players’ morale, as the healing process will first have to take place.

No doubt, the cagey Australians will be ultilising every opportunity to rub the proverbial salt into the wounds of the West Indies, morally stricken by the impasse.

Conversely, Australia will certainly use the West Indies for target practice in the rebuilding process, and to minimally compensate for their loss to England in the Ashes series.

That apart, the West Indies’ cause has not been helped by the fact that as preparation preceding the tour, the players were involved in a single one-day series, the President’s Cup.

In short, the regional team is ill prepared for the Australia tour, which has always been a tough task.

And with leadership paramount, it is my view that Chris Gayle does not fit the bill at this time as captain.

Gayle, as the case with West Indies captains in the last decade, has had mixed results, winning three Tests out of 14 and 13 ODIs out of 38.

But the matter of Gayle, a veteran of 82 tests, with 5,502 runs and 71 wickets, and a vital member of the team, goes past the batting or bowling creases.

Gayle has racked up a catalogue of transgressions, yet he is seen as the good boy among a supposed bunch of bad boys.

Here are just a few of his intransigencies:

His blunt disrespect for authority by his outbursts last year over selection of some players and the whereabouts of an extra player needed for a One-Day International. Neither tact nor diplomacy was used by him for what was obvious inefficiency on the part of the WICB.

Gayle has also been on record as taking a swipe at the selection panel, then headed by former opening batsman Gordon Greendige.

His wearing of the number 52 jersey at the Stanford 20/20 for US$20 million in Antigua and Barbuda, last November, in solidarity with fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels, who is serving a two-year ban for match fixing, adds to the list.

One will be looking at him carefully to see if he will continue to carry that unsightly look of wearing a do-rag under his helmet. This has become an addition to his attire in recent times.

The fact that Gayle’s choice of captaincy was a unanimous one by the selection committee headed by Clyde Butts, further tells the tale.

Additionally, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Ganga, (the much touted heir apparent), Denesh Ramdin and Ranaresh Sarwan have all endorsed Gayle’s appointment, showing the extent of the WIPA bond.

But has Gayle become a born again cricketer? Has his commitment to West Indies cricket soared in the last two months?

Will the four players, Darren Sammy, Travis Dowlin, Gavin Tonge and Kemar Roach, who defied solidarity with WIPA and appeared for the West Indies against Bangladesh and the subsequent ICC Champions Trophy, while the others withdrew their services, be given a fair chance on the tour?

Manager of the regional team, Joel Garner, has hinted that he will be tough on discipline. A welcome intent, but one which must be accompanied by caution as he is dealing with players who in most instances are made Cinderellas by the territorial boards, and are “touch me nots”.

So let us hope against hope for a good result — or perhaps better results.

No hope, though, for the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.