“Will West Indies be better in One-Day series?”
By Colin E. H. Croft
West Indies has it all to do to win Test No. 3. Losing, again, is not that important in the grand view, since, as captain Darren Sammy confirmed recently, West Indies has been losing so regularly, almost exclusively, since relinquishing the world championship, to Australia, in the ancient days of 1995.
For the 3rd Test, nearly 20 years of the most downward vertical spiral in the annals of sport anywhere, should have been the only thought on West Indies’ players’ minds.
Surely they must have wanted to come away from this Test series with more positive suggestions than that they are only useful warm-up, and basic fodder, nowadays, for most Test-playing opponents!
Everyone has already openly admitted that all West Indies are, now, is the preamble to that promising, much more anticipated smorgasbord series, England v South Africa, occurring later this summer.
Indeed, it has been ages since West Indies has been main course in England’s cricket; way back in 2000!
There is at least one thing that West Indies could still regain in Test No. 3 at Edgbaston. Despite considerable condescending noises, West Indies have been somewhat, publicly, mostly privately, derided as being no more than a collective rabble of sports-people, rather than a good sports team.
Meanwhile, Edgbaston cricket ground actually brought back many positive memories personally.
Even though I eventually played county cricket for Lancashire, at Old Trafford, and consider Trent Bridge the best cricket ground in England, my first ever sojourn to England, as a 19 year old in 1972, was to be coached at Warwickshire County Cricket Cub.
That stint was courtesy of real West Indies legend, Lance Gibbs, Guyana’s Chronicle newspaper and its then Sports Editor, that sports-loving visionary, Godfrey Wray.
Coached and mentored by two other coaching legends, Jamaican Derief Taylor and England’s Alan Oakman, I was, as Warwickshire’s and England’s Nick Knight, now a television commentator, quoted recently, “a Baby Bear – An Edgbaston and Warwickshire Cub!”
I won two “Cubs” bowling awards that season, and three months in 1972 certainly shaped my appreciation for the hard work that was absolutely necessary overall, in cricket, to have success!
Warwickshire; “Bear County”; was awesome in 1972, winning everything. Captained by England’s Alan (A.C.) Smith, it included West Indies’ Gibbs, Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran, Deryck Murray, Pakistan’s Khalid “Billy” Ibadullah, England’s Bob Willis, David Brown, John Jameson, Dennis Amiss and Mike (MJK) Smith.
Neil Abberley, Barbados’ William Bourne, Geoff Humpage, who was, then, and still is, now, a police officer, recently retired Edgbaston ground curator, Steve Rouse, Eddie Hemmings, who eventually played for England too, and Norman Mc Vicker, augmented those internationals well.
So, even with much time lost to weather in Test No. 3, West Indies could still try to regain some respect for its cricket, its overall progress, even its organization, with an excellent showing.
Having lost both Day 1 and Day 2, and with rain still so much in the air, it would be very difficult to get a positive result for either team, except “if” one team bats tremendously badly. Only time will tell how this Test will end, but already, English minds have progressed to that series against South Africa!
The enigmatic, seemingly sometimes invisible Chris Gayle recently had talks with Caribbean’s Prime Minister’s Sub-Committee on cricket, headed by Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, and St. Vincent & Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales. Why so anyway? Only God Knows!
Gayle had given up a contract with Somerset, worth, it has been suggested, 150,000 Pounds (US$225,000), just to indicate his availability for West Indies for parts of this tour, but after IPL duties. That meant that he could have been available for Test No. 3, if selected, and ODI and T-20 series to follow. Then, why were more talks necessary? West Indies cricket’s subservience is so full of crap!
It is a wide open secret that there are extremely well educated, if obviously absolutely asinine, ferocious factions in West Indies cricket who still do not want Gayle to ever play for West Indies again, even if he had cow-towed, as has been requested in the past, to issuing an apology. They must be seething now!
Conversely, other factions, with better judgment, wanted him reinstated immediately, if not sooner, to this team, which, plain to see, again, demonstrates that being educated does not make anyone smart!
So, Gayle will now play in the limited overs series in England. West Indies batsmanship needs all help that it could get to counteract the swinging deliveries that they had succumbed to in Tests No’s 1 & 2. The upper order batsmen simply have not coped at all, might it have been in the quite wintry days at Lords, or the barmy climate of Trent Bridge. Our younger batsmen have been found badly wanting!
West Indies bowlers too have struggled, and with the removal of Kemar Roach – remember that I had, unfortunately, foretold this happening, for the strains and stresses were much too much for the young man to cope with – West Indies bowling situation has become as worrying as that of its batsmen.
Ravi Rampaul has survived, but he is nothing more than a trundler, very ordinary indeed, not one to make batsmen quake in their boots. With Roach gone, Fidel Edwards or Tino Best, both even, has to take his place. Either, or both, will have to up their bowling game considerably to succeed in the ODI’s.
Sunil Narine, the young Trinidad & Tobago off-spinner who has confused IPL and limited overs’ worlds with ‘knuckle balls’ and ‘doosras’, will find rain and atmosphere not to his liking, but this is the type of experience and maturing he desperately needs, if he is to become the bowler that his potential depicts.
Eight ODI’s, two T-20-I’s and six First Class games is not much of a history, even if Narine’s aura and mystery preceded him. In his favor, though, 34 First Class wickets at the meager average of 11.88, set him apart from all of present day West Indies, if not even world, bowlers. He is indeed a spin prodigy!
Regardless of the outcome of Test No. 3, this England v West Indies rubber was long dead, the Wisden Trophy already restored to England’s trophy cabinet. Indeed, it was so dead, that England even rested its premier fast bowler, James Anderson, a decision that is still being questioned everywhere.
One supposes that Narine was called up primarily for his prowess in the game’s shortened forms, given his recent history, and the next scheduled games that West Indies has. The recall of Andre Russell, Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo will make West Indies a quite different, even better, team for ODI’s.
Meanwhile, injuries to two featured fast bowlers when this tour started, Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach, worry me greatly. Something seems drastically wrong with either the way these players are being trained for international cricket, or indeed, the equipment that they actually use to play in.
Too many younger West Indies cricketers are being regularly injured. At least, the shorter game suits West Indies better, so let us all hope that they can show that in the ODI’s. Enjoy!