“West Indies will have to do the impossible to win this tournament!”
Colin E. H. Croft
The last time West Indies won ICC Cricket World Cup, dinosaurs were still alive. I took the last wicket then, back in 1979. Blood, sweat and tears have passed since. I expect many more in ICC CWC 2011!
In that 1979 final, Joel Garner got 5 wickets to go with my 3. (Sir) Vivian Richards and Collis King; 138 not out and 86 respectively, battered England out of the game. Collis’ innings is still, in my mind, the very best ODI innings I have ever seen! He, not (Sir) Viv, should have been named “Man of the Match!”
The nearest that West Indies have come to winning since then was the following World Cup, beaten by India; 1983. With the squad now selected, I honestly do not hold much hope for ICC CWC 2011 either!
Anyway, thanks to Mr. Yang Youming, Chinese Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago, I found out that February 03, 2011, is a special day for Chinese around the world. That date started the Spring Festival. It is also ‘New Year’s Day’, the 1st day of the ‘Year of the Rabbit’, on the Chinese lunar calendar.
According to Mr. Yang, the animal which represents this New Year, of the 12 zodiac animals, is a gentle, lovely animal, indicating peace and happiness. Maybe the West Indies needs panthers, leopards, jaguars or tigers, as mostly rabbits are now in that team. West Indies to ICC CWC 2011 looks very tame indeed!
Strangely, February 03, 2011 also showed how difficult our situation already is. In the 2nd ODI played against Sri Lanka that day, West Indies lost by 8 wickets. Worse, West Indies made only 203 in its 50 overs. If a team does not have great, not just good bowlers, that is almost always a losing total!
The balance of the present West Indies is a major problem. Team imbalance comes from the presence of the captain, Darren Sammy. In the normal run of things, he would not be in that team, but, folks, he is now captain. With him permanently placed there, both a batsman and a bowler are missing.
Also, Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard will not all be selected together in an XI!
Sammy is neither a good enough batsman to play as one, nor a good enough bowler to play as that, only, either. In 45 ODI’s so far, he has only 533 runs, average 24.22. If all of the batsmen average 24+, the team will always make less than 250, and will most probably lose regularly, easily, in today’s ODI’s.
As a bowler, Sammy has 31 wickets from 45 ODI’s, with a terrible average of 44.41 and similar poor strike rate – deliveries per wicket – of 59.4. He gets a wicket every 10 overs – below average, at best!
Stupidity, insularity, politics and self-aggrandizement have us where we are now. Like the supposedly mighty Titanic, all we can do is hope, after fooling ourselves that we are impregnable and unsinkable!
Fortune will have to favor West Indies, as I am sure that South Africa, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Ireland, England and India, in that order – all teams in West Indies’ Group B – will not be very charitable! South Africa and India are already top favourites to win ICC CWC 2011 outright. Bangladesh, England and Ireland have shown that they can be good enough, on their day, while Holland has done a few upsets too. I expect that West Indies will get to the quarterfinal stage, but it will be very tough, as they will have to beat at least three of these teams, maybe four, to even get into the quarters!
In Group A, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also suggested as possible CWC 2011 winners. With these teams ahead, even if they do qualify for quarter finals, West Indies would have to work miracles, or obeah, on present form, to win the competition. I have as good a chance of winning any lottery!
All things being equal, and everyone fit, West Indies batting line-up should be as follows: (1) Chris Gayle (2) Adrian Barath (3) Darren Bravo (4) Ramnaresh Sarwan (5) Shiv Chanderpaul (6) Dwayne Bravo (or Keiron Pollard) (7) Darren Sammy (8) Carlton Baugh (9) Sulleiman Benn (or Nakita Miller) (10) Ravi Rampaul (11) Kemar Roach.
See what I mean; a batsman is missing!
Dwayne Bravo, Pollard or Sammy cannot guarantee runs. They are the most inconsistent players in the squad. Also, neither is good enough to get wickets at frugal returns. Therefore, a bowler is missing too!
I wonder what will happen if Carton Baugh has poor initial games, or gets injured.
There is no squad reserve wicketkeeper. I would have selected Andre Fletcher, Denesh Ramdin or Lendl Simmons; one only; instead of Andre Russell. All of the alternate three can be both batsman and wicketkeeper!
For the record, Carton Baugh has played 32 ODI’s, making only 251 runs; avg. 16.30; with not a half century, much less a century. We really are scraping the barrel. Are things that bad with our cricket? In ODI’s, a wicketkeeper who can bat well is a true requirement, probably the most needed all-rounder!
Andre Fletcher is not much better, having played 15 ODI’s for 256 runs; avg. 17.06; but he can also open the innings, if situations so require. Baugh cannot. Also, their wicketkeeping is just about the same!
Ramdin has only himself to blame for his predicament. If he can get to ICC CWC 2015, in United Kingdom (so I hear), is another matter altogether. He is only 25, and has 81 ODI’s; 899 runs; avg. 19.54; also very ordinary, but his wicket-keeping skills have fallen off so badly that even Fletcher is better now!
From WICB T-20 2011, utility man Marlon Samuels should have been selected instead of Devon Smith. If Sarwan could have been picked from that competition, as he had not featured well last year either, then Samuels, in such great present form, should have been selected too. Simply, Samuels had to make way for Smith, come what may!
Small-mindedness, inferiority complexes and nepotism are going to continue to maim us. I strongly believe that any sports-person must be selected on present form, not on past performances. The latter does not count in real sports. Ironically, Chairman of Selectors Clyde Butts agrees with me on that too!
Barath, with his first ODI century, against Sri Lanka last week, has sealed his position and continues to show his potential. However, the entire Caribbean also hope that he does not perform as was done after he made his first Test century; against Australia last tour there; mostly failures afterwards, in Tests!
Gayle is due a big one. He has 547 runs less than 10,000 ODI runs. He can get these, in a good series!
Darren Bravo, like Barath, has shown his potential already. Much is expected from him and he could actually become the star of West Indies efforts if the team goes far. We know Chanders and Rampaul. Rampaul, for all of his lack of pace, does well in ODI’s, but how Roach does, ala Darren Bravo, could also be indicative of the team’s progress. All the best, boys! Enjoy!