Commentary by Colin E. H. Croft
As suggested by the strangely silent Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME), this West Indies tour to India 2014, especially the ODI’s, presents tremendous opportunities for enhancement, progress and one-ness, a good time to do a litmus test as to where exactly our team really is right now.
Hopefully, WI would show more tangible positives than CSME has done to date. To debate CSME’s silence would take much more than words and pages allow, but here is one question:
What has happened to that one-border situation that temporarily existed for ICC World Cup 2007 here in the Caribbean?
Travel in the Caribbean has become even more officious and confused than ever!
Case in point: Travelling from St. Kitts to St. Vincent recently, all passengers had to pass through airports’ security and passport control four times, yet none of the passengers left any airport, except in airplanes bound to another airport while trying to get to SVG; an amazing exercise in total confusion!
Anyway, the euphoria of beating Bangladesh in Tests while playing its 500th Test must have worn off by now, but, continuing this week, WI are on a tight schedule, one culminating in ICC World Cup 2015.
To steal a phrase from calypsonian-turned-preacher Christopher Tambu’s 1989 hit, “the journey now start” for WI cricketers if they want to win ICC W-C 2015. This one is quite tough but has a definite end!
Out of adversities, and successes, come both hopes and better possibilities. One could only win if one plays well. Quitters never win. WI must fight India to the very end of these ODI’s!
Desmond Haynes and WI manager in India, Sir Richie Richardson, are both correct. WI are on the way up, but before that upward journey could continue, real stability is necessary in the first instance.
Immediately, two suggested negatives have hit WI, situations that they must somehow overcome.
Firstly, prolific left-hander Chris Gayle; 258 ODI’s, 8810 runs, avg. 37.33, along with 158 wickets, economy rate a surprisingly meagre 4.75; will be missed at the top of the order for these ODI’s, both because of his power hitting and tight bowling, and also for his maturity and father-like leadership.
Secondly, one of WI’s most lethal bowlers, off-spinner Sunil Narine, has, not surprisingly, been reported for an ‘unusual suspect action’, his second such infraction, now semi-banned for the time being.
Narine, in ODI’s and T-20-I’s, is WI’s best purveyor of destructive deliveries to bamboozle the Indians.
His returns, especially in the game’s shorter forms, are astounding. In six Tests, he has twenty one wickets, avg. 40.52, RPO rate 3.09. But in 52 ODI’s however, he has 73 wickets, avg. 26.49, RPO 4.10.
Thirty two T-20-I’s have even been better still; thirty eight wickets, avg. 17.52, RPO 5.70. Hard stuff!
If Narine is not allowed to produce his usual repertoire of finger spin and doosras, it could hurt WI.
But this tour is also a time for WI Test captain, Denesh Ramdin, to shine too. Because of his continuing maturity and recent high-class production, the time has come for Ramdin to be named overall captain of all WI teams, in all three formats. That would allow tremendous flexibility in any team selected!
I expect that Chairman of WI selectors, Clive Lloyd, and Technical Director of WI “A”, Sir Vivian Richards, both of whom led in both Tests and ODI teams as captains when WI ruled the world, would convince their cohorts to understand and accept this scenario, as this also brings more stability to each team too.
Dwayne Bravo, WI’s ODI captain, is not the performer he was before injuries seasons ago. His focus also seems to have wavered to other horizons these last years. While he could still produce excellence and exuberance occasionally, to have to fight for his very place might bring more similar efforts from him!
Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels and returning-from-WI-wilderness Leon Johnson all fall in the same boat. It is alright to “talk the talk” and look good. Most of these now have to “walk the walk” from that talk, producing match winning efforts.
I repeat: Reputations do not get runs or wickets. To achieve those takes extremely hard work, enveloping focus and a selfishness, even in a team scenario, that is almost overwhelming. Too many of WI’s present supposed super ODI batsmen have too little to show from past inclusions!
Leon Johnson is the odd man out. He has played in only three ODI’s for WI, his last against Canada in 2008. He is virtually starting over, so he has another golden chance to enhance that opportunity given, his performance taken and attitude purveyed so well, with his debut Test v Bangladesh.
With Gayle injured for ODI’s in India, Johnson has another date with his own cricketing destiny!
Jason Holder, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell and Jerome Taylor comprise a bowling attack, with Narine, who could, on their day, decimate any opposition, even India’s much vaunted batting line-ups. Determination, focus, patience and production will be keys to overall WI success! Enjoy!
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