Time for Chris Gayle to walk away


Time for Chris Gayle to walk away

Watching Cricket

with Garfield Myers

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

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The West Indies entered the ICC Cricket World Cup as a “dark horse” purely because of their array of big hitters and in particular, the presence of monumental “impact” players Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.

As it turned out, the admirably committed Gayle is clearly nowhere near the cricketer he used to be, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since he turns 40 in September.

Not that the selectors had any choice in the matter. After his wonderful batting form against touring England earlier this season, no one in his right mind could have contemplated leaving the “Universe Boss” behind.

But even for the lion-hearted, strong-minded Gayle, time will not wait. It waits for no man. That was very obvious in the case of Gayle, both as batsman and fielder, in recent weeks. For the greater good of West Indies cricket he should draw a line on his exceptional international career now.

Further to that, it is imperative that West Indies captain Jason Holder and the management team, supported by the powers that be in Cricket West Indies, begin the process of planning and building towards the next World Cup in four years' time, starting with the upcoming Indian tour.

That's what the top four at the World Cup did over the last four years, while West Indies administrators and players quarreled and stumbled about like drunks in the dark.

Administrators and selectors should be looking at honing and nurturing the exciting, but still immature young players who were integral in England, such as Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Oshane Thomas and several others who didn't make that World Cup squad.

As an aside, it seems to me that the Ricky Skerritt-led administration of Cricket West Indies and all other stakeholders need to find appropriate ways to properly recognise and honour distinguished servants such as Gayle, as they exit the playing arena. This has to be done in a proactive, properly planned, ordered way.

It's a difficulty which dates back many decades. Many highly decorated names have left the stage in vexatious, unsatisfactory circumstances. There is need to do better.

But to get back to the World Cup, it's obvious that Russell should not have been in the squad, given the state of his chronically bad knees.

The selectors won't get any blame from me. After his outstanding performances in the IPL it would have taken extraordinary courage to leave out Russell, notwithstanding the grave doubts which were always there about his knees.

Nonetheless, Russell's case should serve as a lesson for everyone — not least those responsible for making medical assessments and recommendations.

Another major let-down was the poor form of Darren Bravo. His experience and class were to have been crucial in helping the West Indies build competitive totals. Instead, Bravo was a complete flop with the bat in the pre-World Cup tournament in Ireland and at the World Cup. Such is his quality that I expect the 30 year-old Bravo to bounce back soon, hopefully against India in both Test and ODI formats.

Looking back at the tournament, the West Indies captain and tour selectors will probably feel they let themselves down by not involving experienced seamer Kemar Roach much earlier. They were influenced, no doubt, by his below par performances in Ireland. But as it turned out, Roach, playing four games in the last half of the World Cup, was statistically West Indies' best bowler.

Much has been said about the Caribbean side's failure for the most part to consistently “seize the moments” of ascendancy throughout the tournament. Poor shot selections, an over-dependence on six-hitting, lethargic and also poor judgment in running between wickets, a lack of consistency on the part of bowlers, inefficient fielding, and an overall lack of mental strength and discipline all contributed to failure.

Those are issues — not least mental strength and tactical/technical discipline — which those in charge must pay special attention to, starting immediately.

It's pleasing that Cricket West Indies recently organised a camp for emerging players and is getting a chance to assess an array of talent in upcoming West Indies 'A' versus India 'A' contests.

I look forward with interest.

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