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The beginning of the end for Windies cricket?

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West_Indies_WI_CricketConsider a strange situation. You have fallen flat on ground, perhaps from the third floor. Your leg is profusely bleeding. Being able to do nothing more than bearably move, you continue to stress the muscle and refuse medication.

You simply refuse undergoing treatment despite knowing the consequences. You are hammered. Objects hit you. Continuously. You trample. Repeatedly. But instead of giving thought to attending to your weakening of limb, you carry on. Mindlessly.

In a few years’ time you are moving on crutches with untreated physical shortcoming. Finally, when you cry for help, doctors announce your legs are beyond saving.

How soul crushing would this painful saga be? But who is to be blamed?

The above is the actual standing of West Indian cricket today. Freshly grief stricken by a 3-nil drubbing by England, the Windies have been continuing to play cricket, paying no heed to their cricket’s internal rupturing. It can’t be denied that West Indies were mowed down by a belligerent English attack, that overpowered the dainty hosts in all departments.

Hales, Morgan, Root came good. Belted hundreds. Devastated fast bowlers who, barring Alzarri Joseph bowled like school kids. When these three didn’t score- Ben Stokes piled on Windies’ misery.

On top of mediocre bowling that resembled an overwhelmed B-grade attack, the batsmen failed in unison

What was hoped to add power to West Indian top order with Kieran Powell’s return after a 2-year hiatus didn’t help. He failed. Miserably. Chipping top edges, attempting failed strokes. Evin Lewis, otherwise a clean striker, failed to get going. You are already running out of contention in a game when your opener manages a best of 21.

Furthermore, which cricketing board envisages playing a Test match specialist as an opener for a 50 over game?

What were WICB thinking when Kraigg Brathwaite was included in the playing eleven? Brathwaite has opened previously during 2016’s year-ending tri series at Zimbabwe and even against Pakistan in UAE. But, failed to get going.

This time around, the Barbadian faced as many as 108 balls and contributed 61 runs.

Moreover, it didn’t help that their top three contributed a diminutive 106 runs from 3 games. In the light of English captain Eoin Morgan’s personal best at Antigua, a gritty 107, the cumulative efforts of West Indies’ top 3 were horrendously short of everything- impact, effectiveness and statistic.

Lacking fight in all departments, we’re staring at a soulless side that resembles a stale corpse

Had there been a fraction of a fight, then Antigua’s twin losses would’ve rubbed enough salts in their wounds so to make a smashing comeback.

But truth is, Jason Holder’s men; specializing in amateurish brand of schoolboy cricket only mirror the defunct practices and misplaced priorities of a cricket board that seems only interested in filling its own pockets.

Else, which cricket administration wouldn’t want to avail world-class, match winning services of a league of flamboyant and impactful talents such as Gayle, Sammy, Pollard, Narine and now, with Darren added to the list of missing talents- both Bravo brothers?

At the moment, it pains to see Windies languish at the bottom of table rankings

The current T20 experts of West Indies’ talent are in geographies so distant from the spot of current turmoil that no screaming frustration, even if high-pitched, like Pavarotti’s operatic grandness, can reach them!

But shouldn’t that serve as motivation for one of cricket’s most self-serving board's divisive politics and continued contractual controversies to make immediate amends?

At the same time, the board alone cannot be blamed for the bitter disputes that have lingered on, longer than any re run of all Friends’ sitcom episodes.

Gayle and company seem to be indifferent at the moment. It could be argued that despite having their pockets filled with achingly good sums, representing a propulsive culture of mushrooming T20 leagues world-over, they aren’t interested in representing West Indies anymore.

So does that mean we have seen the last of West Indies’ collective talent pool exert their might?

Perhaps, yes. 2015’s ICC Cricket World Cup could’ve been the very last of seeing world class albeit inconsistent talents of men of the caliber of Chris Gayle, Sammy and the Bravos.

Pollard wasn’t sadly included then. He isn’t going to be representing the Windies now.

With Andre Russell slated to sit out for a year, getting well-deserved reprimands in line with a doping charge and subsequent absences from hearing meetings, their ODI side looks a damp squib.

But the real question that confounds the West Indies today isn’t just about a collection of shining talents missing in action

It hinges on a very possible reality that the cricketing culture has deteriorated to such a level that representing the national side today doesn’t really find priority for a top-rate talent. And that, in downgrading the once glorious team that made cricket both a carnival of celebration and a testament to greatness, it is the region’s very own cricket board that has stabbed the game in the back.

This isn’t just a travesty. Rather, it’s a fitting tribute to the ills that looming commercialization brings to the table.

If the classicists are to be believed, such as the late great Tony Cozier, then the present league of surviving West Indian legends from yesteryear’s era- Sir Viv Richards, Sir Sobers, Joel Garner, Jeff Dujon and, Andy Roberts are too ‘tired’ and ‘repressed’, perhaps understandably so, by the continued downfall of cricket in the Caribbean to even share a piece of mind with the failing administrators who ‘rule’ their cricket, instead of ‘governing’ it.

But as always, there still seems to be some ray of light

Men like Jimmy Adams, who has played for a long time and been part of some admirable victories alongside the likes of Lara & Chanderpaul are also part of WICB; Adams is currently serving as Director of Cricket. One could expect better governance from the Jamaican than from characters like Dave Cameron, the man at whom all fingers are pointing for ruining the sport.

Moreover, a faction of young and seemingly talented blokes- Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Mohammed, Jonathan Carter, Alzarri Joseph, Ashley Nurse- are finding their feet at a time when their cricket is fighting to live another day.

The regional 50-over tournament, every now and again, throws up some impressive names that conjure attention, hit big sixes or disturb timber, but before someone bats an eyelid, wither away.

There is talent albeit mercurial. But there’s just no nurturing. What makes this a near-horror is the fact that if Jason Holders’ men don’t pull their acts together before Pakistan arrives, then West Indies may well miss out on the 2019 Cricket World Cup. The whitewash against England didn’t help. A very possible drubbing against Pakistan will only spell doomsday.

And Carlos Brathwaite, Holder, Hope, Mohammed and Carter have just 2 weeks before cricket resumes in Caribbean on March 24.

 

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