Our Readers' Opinions
November 20, 2009
Big uphill struggle for the Windies team

20.NOV.09

Editor: I applaud The West Indies cricket selectors on re-instating Chris Gayle as captain of the team presently on tour to Australia. Re-instating Gayle and his band of followers should have been a foregone conclusion. It is important to note that these aggrieved workers were seeking redress in what should be perceived as a legitimate case.{{more}} The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) should have dealt with the dispute with more tact and prudence. Nevertheless, the team has already embarked on its ‘mission impossible’ tour Down Under.

If the results which immediately preceded the previous 3 players’ disputes are any indicators, then the regional team is in for a rude awakening. In 1998/99, following the players stand-off at Heathrow, The West Indies was hammered 5-0 by a rampant South African team. In 2005, following another impasse, the core players joined the rest of the team during the second home test match versus South Africa. In the previous match, The South Africans were able to hold on to a draw. Despite Brian Lara’s combative innings of 196(out of a total of 347) and 176(out of a total of 296), The West Indies went on to lose the next two matches. Oh, yes, they lost the 4-match series 2-0.

On the heels of another player’s dispute later that year, The West Indies were hammered 3-0 by the clinically brutal Aussies. The underlying feature in all three instances was poor team chemistry. This resulted in the captains’ (Lara & Chanderpaul) inability to get the most out of their charges.

During the most recent saga, the spectre of insularity reared its ugly head. Catapulting Floyd Reifer instead of Darren Sammy as interim West Indies cricket captain was an affront to The Windward Islands people. It bares further testament that The Windward Islands’ cricketers are regarded as permanent second class in West Indies cricket. Even in the ODIs Reifer was chosen over longstanding Windward Islands’ skipper Rawle Lewis and standing vice captain Devon Smith. This has been the basis for the demise of the regional team as a unifying force for the past two decades.

Presently, Captain Gayle in his own radical way has forged a good synergy with the team. They respond well to his leadership and were developing into a tenacious group until tragedy struck. To have Ganga recently pit with him in a captaincy battle was an insult to the Jamaican. Darren Ganga is a colossus when leading The Trinidad & Tobago cricket team. This is because The Trinidad & Tobago team is well-managed and executes a good coaching program. However, at the test level Mr Ganga is reduced to a virtual nobody. He has scored only 3 centuries in 48 test matches with a dismal batting average of 25.71.

As an opening batsman at the international level, Ganga’s dismissals are normally associated with poor shot selections. In most cases, he is indecisive and shows lack of confidence unless partnered with a more illustrious batsman. Two of his centuries were scored with a dominant Brian Lara at the other end. The West Indies cricket beyond the boundary is too fragile to be further debilitated by internal tribalism. Let’s not use Ganga’s eloquence as requisite for good captaincy. In the interest of the fans, all stakeholders should focus on the immediate task ahead.

The present Australian cricket team is not as formidable as it once was a mere 5 years ago. However, in a battle-hardened captain and the tenacity that is associated with Australians, The West Indies will do well to simply compete. Techniques and mental strength will be severely tested for here is where The Aussies are at their ruthless best. Skipper Gayle would have to marshal his forces like an army general hungry for victory. The team would have to play out of its depth in order to mount any serious challenge.

COLLIN CA$H HAYWOOD