Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The slide continues


THOSE of us who look to the future and try to put the past—and the present—behind, might not be too happy after the short-lived defence of their title by the West Indies Under-19 team at the current 2018 ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand.
Two matches and two defeats put paid to any hopes of retaining the crown, or even making it out of the preliminary round, and they are left to save face in the Plate division, playing against the other also-ran countries.

And, unfortunately, the Windies might best be remembered at this event for the dismissal of an opposing batsman through a rather arcane “obstructing the field” rule, which brings into question the good sportsmanship of the squad, in particular captain Emmanuel Stewart.

At the post-match press conference, the Windies skipper said he regretted appealing against South African Jiveshan Pillay after he picked up a “dead” ball close to the stumps and tossed it to Stewart, who is also the team’s wicketkeeper.

But the damage was already done and, of course, brought back memories of the previous Under-19 World Cup when, in a closely-fought encounter against Zimbabwe, a WI player dismissed a batsman at the non-striker’s end, who was marginally out of his crease in backing up as the bowler came in to deliver.

The West Indies went on to win that match and the tournament, but that incident left a sour taste among some neutrals and put a damper on the overall triumph.
Also, seemingly emulating their senior West Indies counterparts, some of the Under-19 players showed little inclination to put their heads down and grind, preferring vainglorious swiping rather than battling against adversity in chasing South Africa’s big total.

It was a sad indication of the youngsters copying the worst habits of the adults, and must have the purists shaking their heads in frustration.
However, there were bright spots amidst the doom and gloom and, at the risk of sounding parochial, Trinidad and Tobago’s Keagan Simmons and Kirstan Kallicharan caught the eye with their batting, along with others who also showed promise.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, there is no escaping the fact that West Indies cricket is in a very sad state and the president and other members of the hierarchy of Windies Cricket, or whatever these officials choose to call the regional body that oversees this glorious game, cannot stand blameless as the ignominious slide down the ladder continues with no end in sight.

Two years ago, the general antipathy towards the president and the board was tempered by Windies victories in three international tournaments—the men’s and women’s T20 and the Under-19 World Cups. Since then, there has been very little to cheer about. And it has reached the stage where it is no longer a rare honour and privilege to represent the once mighty West Indies.

And the regional team is now subjected to competing against the so-called minnows of the game in an attempt to qualify for next year’s 50-Over World Cup, a format in which the West Indies were the undisputed masters.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.