Cricket West Indies must chart a new path


Cricket West Indies must chart a new path

Saturday, June 29, 2019

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After West Indies used their fast bowlers to demolish Pakistan in their opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup, Caribbean cricket fans dared to hope.

As it has turned out, that early success was a false dawn.

They came close against Australia and New Zealand. However, Mr Jason Holder and his men have failed to win a single game since that triumph over Pakistan.

Indeed, while the Pakistanis got better as the tournament progressed, West Indies steadily fell away.

Their heavy defeat by top-ranked ODI team India on Thursday summed up a team very low in confidence.

The hope is that somehow, in the two remaining games against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, the West Indies will lift themselves.

Questions must be asked of how it was that a team which opened its World Cup campaign with such confidence fell away so badly, so quickly.

Some will argue that things went wrong before the West Indies reached England, with the decision of the newly elected Ricky Skerritt-led Administration of Cricket West Indies to change the coaching staff.

To what extent those changes affected performances at the World Cup we will probably never know.

What we do know is that quarrels between administrators and players over many years took its toll.

Since the last World Cup, in 2015, even as other teams planned and fine-tuned for the current campaign, West Indies cricket remained divided.

The separation of several elite players from the West Indies ODI team weakened on-field performances resulting in the regional side having to play a qualifying tournament to even get to the World Cup.

That continuing bad blood, we believe, led to several becoming unavailable for the qualifiers in Zimbabwe in early 2018.

Many will point to tactical weaknesses at the World Cup, not least an over-reliance on short, fast deliveries and a seeming inability to adjust quickly to changing realities.

Questions will be asked about the selection of impact player Mr Andre Russell, whose knees turned out to be in such a bad condition; he never should have been in the World Cup squad.

But after all the questions and recriminations, a way forward must be charted. Others have failed and bounced back to find success using proper preparation allied to meticulous planning as an immovable base.

Cricket West Indies must now do the same.

In that respect we welcome the initiative to review and recommend changes to how West Indies teams are selected.

We are told that a select committee will review selection approaches and, by September, “construct recommendations (for) a selection system that is best suited to West Indies cricket and our environment”.

Also, this newspaper supports the continuation of initiatives to develop emerging talent, such as a recent training camp in Antigua to hone “white ball” skills.

Much more of that will have to be done. Hopefully, Mr Skerritt and his team will get the material support of partners in the private and public sectors.

It's been painfully obvious during the World Cup that West Indies players are way behind in such basics as fielding, running between wickets, shot selection, maintaining tactical, and technical discipline and thought processes.

There is a lot of catching up to do.

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