On Target
July 12, 2019
True to form for West Indies

One is wondering why there are the many lamentations across the Caribbean, especially, at the West Indies’ exit from the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, which ends this Sunday in England.

The news of West Indies not reaching the semi-finals has been met with some harsh criticisms, but it is unfair to expect more of the bunch of players who were selected to carry the fight.

This column, in a previous exposition just prior to the start of the World Cup, cautioned of not hanging expectations high of the West Indies team.

To refresh readers, it was quoted in the May 24 edition of On Target: “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”.

As it panned out, West Indies won two matches; the first and the last versus Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively.

Additionally, the West Indies lost six matches, and one had a no result.

Many will want to argue that in at least three of the matches, namely versus Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the West Indies were in relatively safe positions, but lost out to these opponents.

Conversely, when they faced the likes of Bangladesh, England and India, the West Indies were blown away with relative ease.

But to put the World Cup in proper perspective, it was the worst for the West Indies, in terms of the number of matches won.

The West Indies have never won so few matches in their previous eleven outings at the ICC World Cup.

Did anyone really expect better when we had to play qualifiers for a final spot, rather than earn a place by the team’s mere rankings?

Having got to the final, via the qualification route, how could the regional side have expected to advance when our top batsmen could not put together consistent scores?

Nicholas Pooran’s 367 runs stood above and beyond. The next bests were Shai Hope’s 274 and Shimron Hetmyer’s 257.

On the bowlers’ side, Sheldon Cottrell scalped 12 wickets at the cost of 32.66 runs apiece; Carlos Braithwaite and Oshane Thomas at 35.88 and 42.22 runs each, respectively.

These bowling statistics are a country mile away from the top performers, whose average wickets came under 25 runs each.

Critically, when the West Indies batted first, only twice have they been able to score in excess of 300 runs. The other innings total over 300 was in their unsuccessful chase versus Sri Lanka.

This simply exemplifies the current state of West Indies cricket, as there are so many fundamentals both in the players and the setup of the regional game that will not produce better results.

However, the stand-out short coming of the team on show in England, was their cerebral impotence.

This assessment was as a result of the many instances when they were called on to show their mental mettle and knowledge of the sport, and on each occasion, they came up short.

It was quite noticeable that our players lacked the tact of reading the match and applying what was necessary in a game situation.

They were slaves to a script, which proved their inability to think on their feet.

Our bowlers especially were the guilty ones, as they, after using the short ball and was successful against Pakistan in their first match, made that their blueprint for the rest of the tournament.

Unfortunately, in international cricket and sports in general, the science takes over in these instances, but in the case of the West Indies, they are some years behind.

The assessment is, the West Indies team that represented us in the ICC World Cup, and other representative teams, for the last two decades, are simply the microcosms of the current psycho–social make-up of our collective Caribbean societies.

The ill-discipline that pervades our Caribbean at the moment, transcends into the way cricket is played.

It is not gainsaying that the cavalier ways of life of the Caribbean are innate, as everyone seems to want that hero status tagged on to them.

Hence what manifested at the various venues in England for the past four and half weeks, are in keeping with what the region lives each day.

And, true to form, when things go awry, the blame game is rolled out with consummate ease.

So the West Indies are back to square one at the end of a global 50-over tournament.

The West Indies are ranked ninth in the world in ODIs and placed ninth in the tournament.

Again, the team performed to their ranking.

No quick fix will work, if the West Indies are to be a force to reckon with in the next four years, when the ICC World Cup comes around again.

Planning had to have begun since yesterday, as the West Indies are light years behind in the ODI format.