“They say in the islands that the West Indies know how to lose,” said Gerald Ramkissoon, the maintenance head at Queen’s Park Oval after the end of the ODI series between West Indies and India that the visitors won 2-0.
This statement reflected exactly what every West Indian cricket fan must be feeling right now. Playing at home, the West Indies had a full strength team and were expected to give India a proper challenge in the limited overs series as those are the formats they enjoy playing in. But unfortunately, West Indies were thwarted by a strong India in both the T20I and the ODI series and couldn’t win a single game.
What must be frustrating for the fans, though, is that West Indies did have their chances. In the first T20I and in both the ODIs, West Indies had the upper hand and their moments in several phases. In fact, for a large part of the 2nd ODI, the West Indies, while chasing a target of 280, looked like they would comfortably win the game. In the third ODI too, they started in sensational fashion and had blasted 114-0 in the first 10 overs itself. However, they let go of the initiative in both the games by some reckless cricket and eventually ended up on the losing side.
Many experts and former cricketers are of the opinion that the current West Indian players suffer from the slam-bang T20 style approach in every format they play in.
This was the exact thing that plagued the West Indies in the recent World Cup 2019 in England. They fell 15 runs short against Australia, after being in control in the chase and lost by an agonizing 5 runs against New Zealand in the tournament.
The last time West Indies won a bilateral series was in 2014, against Bangladesh. But their performance at home against England earlier this year, where they drew the ODI series 2-2, gave their fans some real hope that this might be the revival of West Indies cricket. They looked to have an exciting, deep and dangerous batting attack that could tear any bowling line up apart. And their bowling too had variety. All West Indies needed was proper execution and that is where they have been lacking.
Their batsmen lack the patience and resolve to stay at the wicket and always appear to be in the T20 mode, irrespective of the format. What hasn’t helped that almost all of the current lot of West Indian cricketers feature in the various T20 leagues around the world – CPL, Big Bash, BPL and IPL. They thrive in these leagues and are never quite able to let go of the T20 hangover.Embed from Getty Images
That approach has cost the West Indies dearly in the past few years. And it is really not helping their progress at present despite having a talented bunch of players. West Indies are too far behind at the moment in Test cricket. But in ODIs, at least, they have the ability to make a turnaround. In Jason Holder, West Indies has an able leader. What he needs is the backing of his players and a commitment to play more responsibly.
Unfortunately, that isn’t happening and this reckless approach is unlikely to change anytime soon as the players would be gearing up for the World T20 in Australia next year. The revival of West Indies in ODIs and Tests, it seems, will take even longer now.