Colin E. H. Croft
Starting today at Kensington Oval, Barbados, West Indies takes on England in three T-20 games, both team’s last proper engagement before going to Bangladesh for ICC World T-20 World Cup 2014.
These T-20’s are vital preparation for both teams and should be great entertainment value! As defending 2012 World T-20 champions, West Indies should also be able to tell, after this series, if they are up to defending that world title.
Only time will tell, but reviewing last week’s ODI’s at Sir Vivian Richards’ stadium, Antigua & Barbuda, and even as all would like West Indies to repeat, I would say a resounding “No” to that suggestion now.
West Indies looked too frenetic in those three ODI’s and not at all properly organized. In truth, England should have won all three of those games, eventually winning the series 2-1!
The tourists, ICC WT-20 2010 winners here in the Caribbean, that year’s final played at said Kensington Oval, are, arguably, much more comfortable than West Indies right now, even after England had been recently destroyed by Australia in T-20’s, and even as West Indies are playing at home.
That tells of the state of confusion of West Indies! England played its full T-20 team against West Indies in three ODI’s last week; only Alex Hales and Jade Dernback did not play; and won, while West Indies now have a fully revamped team for T-20 games!
While England certainly wanted to win the ODI series, especially after Australia, they also realized that those ODI’s were great opportunities for T-20 players to get much needed cricket under their belts, and, with the larger picture of ICC World T-20 2014 in sight, used that same team for both ODI’s and T-20’s.
Even as Ian Bell is now also in as cover for injuries, that plan worked wonderfully well for England. England’s batsmen had good hit-outs and all go into this T-20 series v WI in confident, winning shape!
West Indies T-20’s team is much different than its ODI team, with tremendously dynamic and explosive Chris Gayle scheduled to play in Barbados, subject to being fit enough, of course.
But West Indies also have several different, if not new faces, for the T-20’s, including leg-spinner Samuel Badree, wicket-keeper-batsmen Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher, left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell, Gayle, all-rounder Andre Russell and another medium-fast left-hander, Krishmar Santokie.
If the hope is to give now-joining WI players opportunities to play proper representative cricket, as England correctly called it earlier, then why had these players, except injured Gayle, not been selected to play v England in these three ODI’s?
I strongly believe that any sports-person is as good as his or her last game, sometimes even series, but should not be picked based solely on some distant memory of over six months ago, sometimes even more.
Certainly Charles and Fletcher, who both looked very poor last month representing Windward Islands in WI 50-overs competition, and Russell and Cottrell, who looked slightly better representing Jamaica, should have been included for ODI’s. Badree and Santokie have not played proper games in anger for months!
Meanwhile, medium-pacer Ravi Rampaul looked extremely ordinary, heavy and jaded, 28 overs in three ODI’s costing 148 runs, dismal economy rate, for a front line bowler, of 5.28, getting only three wickets!
Surely Cottrell, Russell or Santokie, or all of them, alternately, could have been given a run in those three ODI’s, to bring fresh legs and different approaches, instead of Rampaul’s lackluster, optimistic trundling.
WI top order batting salvoes v England in the three ODI’s were also severely putrid: 45-4, 30-3 and 43-4.
It is a fortunate situation that Darren Bravo is not included in West Indies T-20 squad. With scores of 2, 13 and 16, the left-hander looked so out of that series that one wonders what could really be the matter.
He certainly needs to make runs for Trinidad & Tobago in the 4-day competition, for his very own good! Dwayne Smith has again flattered, only to deceive; again, while Kieran Powell seemed perplexed, out of his depth!
Had it not been for redeeming innings from Lendyl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and a wonderful first ODI century from wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin, results could have been much worse.
But it is not only cricket on the field that worries fully, but that of West Indies team philosophy, as viewed from the outer. What exactly are they trying to do when they play any game? It should be to win, or at least to improve, but do they even believe that they could achieve either, since winning alone takes severe planning?
In all sports, there must, or should, be plans, but WI’s plans seemed not to materialize against England in those last three ODI’s. It was if West Indies were sometimes simply playing by rote and numbers!
Dwayne Bravo batted well and bowled reasonably, but at times, his captaincy lacked objectives or imagination. While England compiled 303-6, ODI # 3, Bravo often looked confused as to what to do next. So, these three T-20’s must be redeeming factors for West Indies. Enjoy!
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