The Mack Truck returns with a vengeance

Just prior to the commencement of the West Indies venture in the latest edition of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Champions Trophy, this Column assessed the chances of the team in the competition.
At the time of writing we were not particularly optimistic and for a number of important reasons.
While West Indians everywhere watched in hope of a repeat of the team’s performance in the Champions Trophy they cam away a very disappointed lot, depressed and dejected.
The West Indies team has been eliminated in the very preliminary stage of the competition. Some may well suggest that we were undone by luck. No such thing. They were the victims of their own inconsistency and continued lack of appreciation of what the sport and the team means to the peoples of this Caribbean we call home.
The fact remains that the West Indies cricket team remains a stinging indictment of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and of the immense weaknesses inherent in the way that organisation approaches the sport.
Champions Trophy 2013
West Indies versus Pakistan
The West Indies started the Champions Trophy 2013 with a tremendous sense of conviction and perhaps some may have read too much into it.
We played Pakistan, the only one of the world’s top tier of cricketing teams that is as consistently inconsistent as the West Indies. On any given day no one can possibly guess which Pakistan team would show up on the field of play.
West Indies won the toss and elected to field first. By the end of
On a relatively good wicket Kemar Roach bowled well, generating some fair pace and posing a major challenge to the Pakistan batsmen. H eventually ended the match with three wickets for 28runs off his allotted 10 overs, four of which were maidens. His economy rate was 2.80runs per over.
Sunil Narine also captured three wickets off 10 overs with one maiden. He had 34 runs scored off him at an economy rate of 3.40 runs per over.
Pakistan were bundled out for a mere 170 runs off 48 overs at a strike rate of just 3.54 runs per over. This score was never enough even for a weak team.
When the West Indies team went to the wicket they made the runs in 40.4 overs having lost eight wickets and with a run rate of 4.22 runs per over.
It should be stated that while Gayle, Samuels and Pollard got into the 30s none of them looked particularly menacing enough to get beyond that.
Generally, no one could have come away overly impressed.
The victory over Pakistan should not have appeared so laboured.
Unfortunately for the West Indian fans looking on, the two most inconsistent teams in cricket today played each other and as the calypsonian said, any number could play.
West Indies versus India
The second match was against India, a team that has one of the best One-Day Internationals records in recent times. The Indians did not disappoint.
India won the toss and chose to out the West Indies to bat first.
Gayle and Johnson Charles opened the innings as had been the case previously. It was not long however before Gayle fell with his score on 21.
Darren Bravo then joined Charles and together they built the innings with the latter living dangerously at times yet piling up boundaries from time to time. Bravo, on the other hand, did not seem his usual self, placing the ball around the field for some runs but never showing the immense batting potential he possesses or the form he displayed early on the tour. Still, the pair compiled 78 runs in 19.5 overs, not particularly impressive.
Once Charles got out on 60 there was something of a procession until Darren Sammy came to the crease late in the innings and added a quick-fire 56 not out.
The West Indies total after 50 overs was 233 for the loss of nine wickets.
The commentators argued that since the ground average in this form of the game was 240 runs the West Indies were in with a chance of victory.
The Indian cricketers quickly put paid to any plans the West Indies may have had of winning the match.
Form the very start of the Indian innings the intention of the batsmen was clear. Virtually every West Indian bowler got slaughtered.
Roach, who dominated the first match found that the Indians relished his bowling on the day, slamming him all over the field, leaving him with match figures of six overs, no maidens, for 47 runs without a single wicket. His average was 7.83 runs per over.
Gayle’s one over cost him 11 runs while Pollard’s three were at an average of 6.63 runs.
Team captain, Dwayne Bravo, got hammered in his five overs ending with an average of 7.20 runs.
Sammy’s four overs left him with an average of 5.75 runs while Rampaul ended with an average of 4.66 runs from six overs.
Finally, Sunil Narine, the only wicket taker – two – was the lone West Indies bowler to complete 10 overs, averaged 4.90 runs.
For the Indian innings there was not a single maiden over bowled. This highlighted the approach of the Indian players in what they considered a particularly important match in the competition.
The Indian response seemed to have sent shockwaves throughout the West Indies team. There was a loss of focus and the team looked a dejected lot on the field.
The Indian players came onto the field with a sense of purpose and a determination that their West Indian opponents lacked. This made the difference between the two teams on the particular day.
West Indies versus South Africa
In what turned out to be the West Indies final match in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, they came up against South Africa. This was the team’s most crucial match in the preliminaries. Victory would see the team through to the semi final round while a loss would mean returning to the beautifully scenic Caribbean to a place called home.
The start of the match was delayed due to rain. Officials then reduced the match to 31 overs per team.
West Indies won the toss and elected to field, sending in the South Africans.
The South Africans amassed 230 off their allotted 31 overs losing six wickets in the process at an average of 7.41 runs per over.
Once more an opposing team treated the bowlers roughly. Rampaul, Best, Sammy, Bravo, Narine, Samuels and Pollard each had averages in excess of 6.0 runs.
When it was the West Indies turn at the crease it did not appear evident that the players were sufficiently apprised that the weather conditions could easily have the match result determined by the Duckworth Lewis system.
In the end, that is precisely what happened.
When the rain eventually placed the results in the hands of the Duckworth Lewis system, West Indies had scored 190 for the loss of six wickets at an average of 7.26 runs per over.
The argument of many was that the team is good at chasing runs and that they seemed on course to win given the way the players were batting and the runs needed with the available balls to be bowled.
Interestingly, the South Africans would have been very conscious of the impact the rain would have on the result since they have been victims in the past.
Once the rain had intervened early in the match and given the playing conditions both teams should have been particularly focused on the consequences of the possible intervention of the Duckworth Lewis system at any time.
The approach to the match therefore involved as much strategy as it involved naked sills on the part of the players. The West Indies team simply did not engage in due diligence and we paid a heavy price. It is not the first time.
There is little sense in suggesting that the West Indies suffered a hard loss. A loss is just that, a loss.
The West Indies team did not perform well. This may be considered an understatement given what we have come to know of the current crop of players.
Team coach, Otis Gibson, may well be happy that he had his contract renewed before this series.
Sammy too, may be somewhat relieved that he did not wear the captain’s hat during this particular competition. He therefore remains the captain who took the T/20 title not so very long ago.
The fact is that the WICB does not yet have the measure of the team.
The young crop of players are not very committed to West Indies Cricket and that it easily their biggest failing.
While one could easily recognise the level of commitment and pride shown by the players of India, England, Australia and South Africa, the same cannot be said of the members of the West Indies team.
One is not sure that we could even dare suggest that the players had the kind of commitment to success that we saw in them during their participation in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL).
On the faces of the players there is nothing akin to the chagrin so common to the players of the aforementioned top cricket teams.
Our players lose their wickets and return to the players’ pavilion with a sort of nonchalance that often defies logic and leaves the Caribbean enthusiast pained. Ther is no sense of shame on their faces.
Perhaps the statement made by Richie Richardson several years ago when we lost our first match to the South Africans who had just been allowed back into the sport tells a very true story – it was just another game.
To some the players would have given their all. To an ever-increasing number of Caribbean sport enthusiasts, however, they continue to offer a delightfully mixed bag of well-paid cricketers who seem lost in the quandary of whether there is something that can indeed be considered Caribbean-ness.
Perhaps there are too many of us who still believe that the game of cricket offers an opportunity for Caribbean people to showcase our growth out of the combined experiences of conquest, slavery and colonialism.
The current West Indian players of the game of Cricket have lost the link. They have rejected the rich legacy of their predecessors and perhaps too, they simply do not care.