Untimely blow to Windies cricket

Saturday, September 29, 2018

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This newspaper believes Mr Stuart Law, the outgoing all-format coach of the West Indies cricket men's team, made a positive impact.

Mr Law, it will be recalled, took over a very young West Indies team — depleted by the absence of senior players for one reason or another — following the dismissal of Mr Phil Simmons.

Guided by Mr Law, the West Indies Test team performed creditably against higher ranked Pakistan in the Caribbean in 2017.

A few months later they shocked England by chasing down 322 runs to win by five wickets at Leeds. That was immediately after the West Indies had been dismissed by some as the worst team ever to visit England when they badly lost the first Test — which was a day/night game.

That Test match win in England last year was the first by a West Indies team in that country since 2000.

The West Indies lost the series to England, but that was expected.

Totally unexpected was that the Caribbean team, often described as “hapless” and “beleaguered”, would have even drawn a game.

Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were ranked higher than the West Indies in the ICC Test rankings when the Caribbean side drew 1-1 with the former, then defeated the latter two-nil in the Sandals home series earlier this year.

In shorter format cricket, Mr Law and the West Indies team had their problems. However, they got the job done when asked to compete in a qualifying tournament earlier this year in order to be part of the ICC 50-over World Cup in England and Wales next year.

While they finished behind Afghanistan in that tournament, it should be noted that in the Asia Cup that ended yesterday, the Afghans knocked out Sri Lanka and played to a thrilling tie with eventual champions India.

Also, while the West Indies were harshly criticised for losing to Bangladesh in 50-over and Twenty20 tournaments which followed the Test series in mid-year, it can't be ignored that the Bangladeshis reached the final of the Asia Cup ahead of Pakistan.

In terms of the Test match format, the biggest disappointment for Mr Law was perhaps the 0-2 away loss to New Zealand last December.

It wasn't so much that the West Indies lost — most people expected that. However, they played abysmal cricket.

At the individual level, Mr Law should get some credit at the obvious growth in skill level of the fast bowler Mr Shannon Gabriel and in the all-round game of West Indies Captain Mr Jason Holder.

He will leave with the expectation that the promise shown by a number of batsmen, in and around the team, will be fulfilled.

We find it untimely that Mr Law should have chosen to walk away from West Indies cricket just months ahead of next year's World Cup.

His final duties will be to guide the West Indies through a tough two-Test and limited overs tour of top-rated India, followed by a trip to Bangladesh.

We feel sure that as a true professional Mr Law won't only be going through the motions, but will be seeking by all means necessary to get his players to compete at optimum levels for the remainder of his time.

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