“West Indies Test cricket – If only we can believe our mirrors!”
Colin E. H. Croft
Supposedly, most “Twits” – users of “Twitter”; and “Bookers” – users of “Face-book;” do not read much more than their dispatches. If you had learned to read from a real book, then you may have been aware of Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936), and his stunning true-life poem; “IF”.
‘If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself, when all men doubt you, but make allowances for their doubting too: If you can wait, and not be tired of waiting, or, being lied about, do not deal in lies; Or being hated, do not give way to hating, and yet do not look too good, nor talk too wise………………etc.; Then, yours is the earth, and everything that is in it, and, which is more, you will be a man, my son!’
In microcosm, that is my life! That sounds like present-day West Indies too, in a very different way. I expect that, having drawn the Test series against Pakistan 1-1; and losing the ODI series 2-3, West Indies ‘powers-that-be’ would be looking at the glass as being half full, not being half empty! If ever there was need for a 3rd Test, it should have been this series!
That West Indies could only muster two Test matches against Pakistan, and only three against India, have already confirmed how far we have fallen, and considered by ICC, notwithstanding that most series are now truncated, for economical reasons. Next year will be worse. I will inform thusly, in time!
‘There are lies, d….d lies, and then the whole truth!’ The statistics tell a sad tale. West Indies totaled 226, 152, 223 and 230. Even if you have the best five bowlers in the world, with those scores, you should not win any series. West Indies did not breach 250, playing at home. Very, very poor indeed!
None of the West Indies batsmen made more than 57; Marlon Samuels; 1st innings, Test No. 2. Darren Bravo; 50; 2nd innings, Test No. 2; made the only other West Indies half century in four innings. West Indies batting was like playing bingo; nothing at all in the “O” column, or above!
Compare that with Pakistan; two centuries, courtesy Taufeeq Umar (135) and Misbah-ul-Haq (102 no.), plus five other half centuries. West Indies batting was very awful. Bowling-wise, they were not that much better either, despite what Darren Sammy says!
Yes, many would suggest that West Indies won Test No. 1, so what am I carrying on about? That sort of thinking is exactly why we are in the cricketing morass that exists here. Just listen to them. Most just tell themselves these stories, lying to themselves. But, ‘if you can keep your head etc………!’ .
According to Tony Cozier, who has seen West Indies cricket everywhere, for about 50 years, as a Sports Journalist, the pitch for Test No. 1 was one of the worst he had even seen: “That pitch at Providence was certainly not fit for any First Class, or Test match, anywhere. It was a very poor pitch!”
The record books would show, as calypsonian Crazy suggests, ‘in time to come’, that West Indies beat Pakistan in Test No. 1. True! However, after I suggested the same when Bangladesh beat West Indies three years ago; our supposedly 2nd team; all who had lost their heads cursed me out! Exciting stuff! No-one can have it both ways, except in the Caribbean. The mirror image never lies. You could run but you cannot hide. Our cricket is diabolically below par. It is also laughable to listen to commentators trying to be politically correct; to justify; saying stuff that might help their personal cause!
Assessing West Indies batsmen now; wicket-keeper, all-rounders and bowlers later; is not easy, with India next. Unfortunately, there is no competitive, regional cricket before India, so how these batsmen are to improve, is anyone’s guess. Another is that there is no certainty that three of our better players; Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard; will even be available for India! Incredible!
Devon Smith, (33 Tests), managed, thankfully, only Test No. 1; 13 and 1 his returns; bamboozled by Mohammed Hafeez so often in the ODI series and that Test that Smith looked totally lost. Please do not be surprised if you see him back v India……..…‘or being lied about, but do not deal in lies…. etc.’
Lendl Simmons (5 Tests) suffered from the normal West Indian ague – making 40 is par for this course. I also expect that he would be retained. Scores – 49, 21, 0 and 24! He was one of the better ones!
Craig Brathwaite debuted in Test No. 2; 15 and 0. If he is to make runs that so many suggest he will in the future, his batting technique must change drastically. This is not youth cricket. Any batsman that has his off-stump hit so often must have his feet in the wrong places. The batting coach, Desmond Haynes, knows that. Any bowler worth his salt would pass through bat and pads, a gaping hole like a barn door!
Darren Bravo; scores of 25, 8, 24 and 50; was ditto Simmons. I keep hearing from everyone how much he looked like Brian Lara. If Lara, at similar age; 22; had played against this Pakistani bowling attack, he would have made at least 300 runs in this short series. This confusion between appearance and production is asinine. Looks do not make runs! Just ask Carl Hooper!
I will say it again. If I had my way, I would drop Ramnaresh Sarwan now, permanently. Contrary to what many think, he is a passenger in this team, nothing else. After all of the stupid noises, 23, 11, 20 and 0, are thrash returns, for a player with 85 Test experiences. Sarwan is well past his “sell by” date!
Shiv Chanderpaul (130 Tests) did okay; 27 and 36no; in his only Test, the latter innings, and 48 he put on with Davendra Bishoo, for the last wicket, probably winning that 1st Test at Providence. He should have been “M-O’M”, but for stupid political correctness. He showed how to bat on a quagmire pitch. He gets injured too often, but must last the full Indian series, be just as determined, if West Indies are to show!
Marlon Samuels (30 Tests) is ditto Chanderpaul. I was surprised that he did not play Test No. 1, as he, more than anyone else, had been the form horse for 2011 regional cricket. This imbalance and picking players with insular purposes, continue to hurt. At least, Samuels seemed fairly organized; 57 and 6.
Brendan Nash (20 Tests) is close to Sarwan’s slide. He must know, by now, that, like Darren Bravo, talking does not bring runs. Test is not like playing parish cricket. This was Pakistan, whose spinners garrote unready batsmen. Nash’s mask is off; 5, 3, 6 and 30, is very close to the precipice!
So, I hope that you are keeping your head, while others are losing theirs. But, if you do not believe your mirrors, then you are doomed to repeat! If only………! Enjoy!