On Target
December 21, 2012
Between a rock and a hard place

As 2012 comes to an end, the West Indies Cricket Board, the players under its umbrella and the millions of fans of West Indies cricket the world over have found themselves between a rock and a hard place, as neither place of abode suits them.{{more}}

It was joy almost uncontrollable after the West Indies lifted the world T-20 title in October in Sri Lanka.

Everyone was on cloud nine, including the hierarchy of the regional board, as it was thought the fillip needed to weave its way back to the top of world cricket, albeit that test cricket is the acid test of one’s true status as near perfectionists of the sport.

One must understand that anything that gave any glimmer of hope of moving out from that permanent residence in the wilderness of grim despair would have been welcome, like the mythical Santa Claus who is believed to bear gifts for the needy around this time of year.

And indeed, he did come with a gift that was unwelcomed and burst the bubble of the regional cricket administrators.

The ICC used Santa to come down the chimney and implement, by sneaking through the back door, the two-tiered test system.

The disguised imposition would see the West Indies, the 7th ranked test team, only engaging the likes of Zimbabwe, which is unranked; New Zealand — listed at number 8; Bangladesh – number 9; and, Pakistan at 4 — for the ensuing series, which hangs over into 2014.

This leaves places like our beloved St Vincent and Grenadines, which has invested so much in the development of the Arnos Vale Playing Field, for some time to be starved of quality international teams coming our way.

In essence, the West Indies is not good enough to face off with England, South Africa, Australia and India.

The warning signs were posted some years ago, as the West Indies, in their travels to England and Australia, were not required to played full five-match test series.

To compound their status, the West Indies’ matches had fixtures in the least popular venues.

In some way the West Indies relegation has been justified, simply on its record for the past 15-17 years, with little successes in test cricket.

The records show that of the top rated cricket teams, the regional team has only been able to beat England in a series in the last 10 years, while they have revelled against New Zealand and Bangladesh.

In 2012, in the test series, the West Indies lost 0-2 to England in England; and also 0-2 to Australia in the Caribbean, but defeated New Zealand in the Caribbean and Bangladesh in Bangladesh, both by 2-0 margins.

Also during the year, the West Indies top five batsmen, Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored 987 runs (346 versus Australia; 235 versus England; 52 against New Zealand and 354 against Bangladesh); Marlon Samuels – 866 (386 versus England, 203 against New Zealand and 277 versus Bangladesh).

Kieran Powell – 487 (71 versus England, 87 against Australia; 180 versus New Zealand and 249 versus Bangladesh and Darren Bravo – 482 (184 against Australia, 81 versus England and 217 versus Bangladesh).

The younger players, Bravo and Powell, struggled against the top oppositions, but were able to score centuries against Bangladesh, Bravo — 1 and Powell — 2.

But while the West Indies struggle to keep their heads above water in tests, some of our players, namely Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo are hot commodities and have become globe-trotters, jetting around the world to earn quick money in the various Twenty/20 competitions.

Getting back to the pinnacle of world cricket will take some asking and time.

The West Indies, in looking to get any upward mobility, should follow suit and have different captains for all formats — test, one-day and T-20.

Others are doing so with some success, granted the volume of cricket that is being played around the world.

Some have even gone as far as assigning specific coaches for the different formats as well. Why can’t we?

The various territorial boards are to be strengthened, as all facets of the sport are developed.

So, while everyone enjoys the festive season, spare a thought for the regional game, as the road to the top tier is getting longer and longer

Happy Holidays to all!