On Target
May 24, 2019
Hope is the watch word

When the West Indies go into this year’s ICC World Cup campaign next Friday, May 31, versus Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, not even the most ardent of supporters of the regional team can say with any certainty that they expect the West Indies to lift the title.

This is outside the sentiments expressed by some in the international cricket circles, of the unpredictable nature of the West Indies, who believe they can spring a surprise.

Therefore, it with this type of uncertainty that this column holds the view that the West Indies have little chance of notching up enough wins for them to make a challenge for the title.

This is not to say that on a given day the West Indies can out-perform their opponents, but the same can be said of the other nine teams which are vyeing for the same global glory.

Placing the West Indies at the foot of the table is a reality, as their form in One-Day Internationals overtime has been wretched.

This is coupled with the fact that the West Indies had to be engaged in a play-off for a place in the tournament, which qualifies their status.

Unlike the other teams, the West Indies are short of the quality of players who are match winners.

Yes, there are the likes of the imposing Chris Gayle; the brutal batting force of Andre Russell, as well as the emerging Shai Hope and the shotgun type – Shimron Hetmyer.

Whilst some may think otherwise, the others in the West Indies are simply bits and pieces, when it comes to the modern construct of the limited over formats.

Yes, given the batting, once it clicks, the West Indies can rattle up in excess of 300 runs.

However, in the present era of 50-over cricket, that is easily chased down.

This is especially critical for the West Indies, as its bowling unit does not possess the ability to dismiss any of the teams.

In short, the ODI format has surpassed the West Indies’ capabilities, in terms of tact, preparations and more so, the skill set of the current players.

With technology a major factor in team preparation and execution, the West Indies, although they too have the analysts and the likes in place, still seem to be at bay when it comes to working out batsmen.

Ever since the regional team had left the titles in 1975 and 1979, as well as reaching the final in 1983, only to lose to India, the cupboard in terms of triumphs, has remained bare.

As it is the West Indies are no longer a big name, and gone are the days when sentiments counted, as Cricket has evolved into a profession, hence no quarters are asked, neither any are given.

Some of those who are sympathetic to the West Indies’ prospects, are basing their arguments on the regional players’ form in the 20/20 game, as they are some of the most sought after assets. But it is a different stage altogether, when it comes to the global stage.

Too, the recent series here in the Caribbean by the West Indies in which they drew 2-2 with England, in the ODI series, should not hold much, as the English conditions are far different. One though cannot hold that as any yard stick for excellence, as it was on the Caribbean side’s home soil.

The credence of this exposition will be known, when the West Indies play their last match on July 4, against Afghanistan.

But the reality of the West Indies’ sojourn, after facing Pakistan next Friday, they go head to head with Australia on June 6, with a meeting against South Africa, four days later.
On June 14, the West Indies will take on host England, and Bangladesh, June 17.

The West Indies face New Zealand, June 22 and India on June 27. Then, on July 1, the West Indies play Sri Lanka.

It is best for all who support the West Indies and wish for miracles to happen to rely on HOPE (no pun intended), as the best mental course to take for the duration of the ICC Cricket World Cup.