Saturday, December 16, 2017

WI fans want more than glimpse of glory

Express editorial logo290

Mark Fraser

 NOT for the first time, the West Indies cricketers have soared from the depths of despair to the heady heights of an overwhelming triumph.

Just when fans were hoping they could not sink any lower, the Windies produced a record-breaking performance that ensured they shared the spoils in the one-day international series against New Zealand.

They did it by registering their highest-ever ODI score of 363, upstaging the likes of Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, who were the main run-getters in the heady days of the regional team’s domination of all opponents in the 1980s.

Thanks to centuries from captain Dwayne Bravo and Kirk Edwards, followed by good work from the bowlers, the West Indies beat the New Zealanders by 203 runs, a thoroughly convincing victory which is worthy of much praise.

But, as always with the Windies, such a sensational success has to be put into perspective, especially coming so soon after abject displays over the last three months against India and the same New Zealand.

And it was posted amidst reports that there was internal strife in the team, as confirmed by the region’s premier cricket correspondent and Sunday Express columnist Tony Cozier, after hints of such from WI Test skipper Darren Sammy and team manager Richie Richardson.

There is also the continuing spate of bad decisions by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), including one to send the players to relive their childhood at amusement parks in the United States instead of putting in the hard work at practice before heading off to the sub-continent and then Down Under.

As Mr Cozier put it, referring to Dwayne Bravo’s claims of a lack of team unity, “It also amounted to a dismissal of the relevance of the laid-back, expensive week-long ‘Elite Team Tour’ in Florida prior to departure for India that board president Dave Cameron saw as an exercise aimed at creating ‘a culture of unity, winning and overall success’. Certainly, Bravo observed no ‘culture of unity’ as a result.”

And there is the WICB’s selection panel, which must be due for change in light of recent ridiculous manoeuvres, which Mr Cozier also alluded to.

“Their complacency after four years was palpable in their decision to pick the identical squad for New Zealand as was thrashed in India,” he wrote in his column of December 29.

One terrific result will not put all those things right and, from top to bottom, everyone involved in West Indies cricket will have to thrash out these issues before the team goes back into the arena after the New Zealand tour.

The talent is definitely still there, not in the abundance as of 30 years ago, but Tuesday’s victory in Hamilton shows what can be achieved with dedication and discipline, but it has to be applied right through the West Indies establishment, from board president all the way down to ambitious juniors. With the right approach, such a fleeting success should not be an aberration but a regular occurrence for the West Indies cricket team.

But it requires all hands on deck working with one common goal without any delay.