There is no joy in saying, I told you so!
Where West Indies cricket is concerned, cricketing enthusiasts across the Caribbean fell decidedly disappointed whenever the team collapses into defeat.
Despite several years of harrowing losses the fans remain loyal and live in hope that there will be a resurgence of good fortune some time soon so they can once more feel good about our involvement in the game of our colonisers.
As often as we hope for a change of fortune we are uplifted by a sudden and almost unexpected performance only to be readily deflated by the humiliation of a reckless defeat.
Amazingly, the professional cricketers who have comprised the team over these years of defeat seem not to be bothered by the humiliation and care less about the fans around the region who are still committed to losing sleep and risking hear attacks by remaining loyal.
World Cup 2015
Cricket analysts across the Caribbean could not have expected much from the West Indies team that was selected to play in the Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) can continue to claim otherwise but many pundits remain convinced that the decision to omit some of the stalwarts of the game from the final squad was directly related to the fracas that emerged in India that brought an abrupt, embarrassing and costly end to the series in that country a few months earlier.
That many analysts were making the same pronouncements about the team selection process is strong evidence that their thinking may well have merit.
That the WICB was prompt to rise to the defence of the selectors’ panel may also be cited by some, as reason to be circumspect about the truthfulness of what has been proffered.
Chris Gayle seemed to have belled the cat, as it were, when he openly criticised the WICB for victimising the senior players that had been omitted. The WICB is now taking Gayle before its disciplinary panel. Gayle may well not show up.
Important for us analysing the state of West Indies cricket us whether Gayle is correct in his claim of victimisation against his colleagues.
Does Gayle know something that we are not being told just yet about the possible reasoning that took place behind the scenes?
Did Gayle hear something that he is not yet ready to reveal?
Does the WICB have something to hide?
It would always have been difficult for anyone following the game in the Caribbean to expect harmony in the team for the World Cup 2015.
Once we were made aware that Gayle was dissatisfied that his colleagues had been victimised we ought to have expected that his own role in the team in Australia would be influenced by his psychological stance in the matter.
While we expect players who are professionals to play with whatever team they have been provided, it is often also the case that the aggrieved players may not be up to the challenges that emerge during the actual competition.
Was this the situation with Gayle at the World Cup?
Just how much influence does Gayle have on the team or his more senior colleagues on the team, especially those from his native Jamaica?
To many the team lacked the proper balance.
After having been challenged the region’s most successful spinner in recent times, Sunil Narine, of Trinidad and Tobago, withdrew from the selected team to the World Cup. This created a serious vacuum since for all that has been credited to Benn, he is a far cry from what the team needed at this particular competition.
Kemar Roach, once considered the fastest of the West Indies pace bowlers, was just emerging from injury and was something of an unknown quantity as far as form and consistency were concerned.
Precisely who would perform best alongside Gayle in opening the innings for the West Indies team in the competition remained a bother through to the team’s demise in Australia ate the quarterfinal stage.
The team lacked a genuine all-rounders and this was a major blunder as the competition surely revealed.
There was more than enough reason for analysts to be concerned that the team that was sent to the World Cup lacked the depth, skill competencies in several important aspects of the game and consistency of performance from the vast majority of the players.
Supporters of the team lived hope of some miracles although realistically expecting none.
At the World Cup the West Indies team got off to a horrible start by being humiliated by Ireland. The humiliation was not about the margin of defeat since the game was close. The issue was that of all possible teams playing cricket today Ireland should never be able to come close to the West Indies.
Such a start would have negatively impacted the team in all departments. Even though the players tweeted and claimed that they should not be ruled out of the running for the World Cup title the writing was on the wall from that very first game. It signalled the absence of any genuine resolve and will to win.
Throughout the competition one got the impression that we were not armed with a bowling contingent that fit the bill required at this level.
While all other participating teams came to the World Cup party with great determination the West Indies and their cricketing shadow, Pakistan, showed up in their usual swagger and seeming indifference. The results were to be expected.
Gayle’s inconsistency remained and so too did that of the rest of the team.
It was remarkable that the West Indies that won the first two editions of the Cricket World Cup could have gone to Australia so under par in terms of their preparation and psychological readiness.
While avid cricket fans across the Caribbean hoped for success this did not appear to have extended to the players representing them on the field in Australia.
One is not at all certain as to why the team’s captaincy was handed over to the vastly inexperienced Holder.
One line of thinking was that with Lloyd as the new head of selectors for the WICB he may well have found it much easier to work with a fledgling rather than an experienced senior athlete as captain of the team.
Holder’s comments in respect of the helpfulness of Lloyd during the World Cup may well signal that there is some merit in the aforementioned analysis.
There may some who think that Clive Lloyd has always wanted to play a major role in West Indies cricket and that ultimately his eyes may well be on the WICB presidency. Many ponder as to the rationale used by the WICB to appoint Lloyd the head of selectors given his role in the Guyana debacle where he apparently headed an organisation that was government sponsored and deemed a challenge to the authentic national representative governing body on the WICB for that country. It would appear that rather than being officially sanctioned by the WICB Lloyd has been commended with an elevated position in the organisational structure of the WICB.
Is it therefore too far fetched to surmise that the WICB may well have identified Lloyd as the one person available to the region who can be trusted with heading the selectors, mould the new, more youthful and inexperienced players while tempering the aggression of the senior players on the team?
No one really expected Holder to be able to manage the likes of Gayle, Samuels, Sammy and even Benn, on the field of play.
With his captain’s inexperience Holder may well have found Lloyd a convenient buffer and so latched on to his for guidance and general security. He may also have seen this as a way of guaranteeing some security of tenure on the team and in the leadership position for the future.
If the foregoing analysis is correct then the senior players may well have had their own reservations while playing and this may have negatively impacted their performance.
The West Indies team today lacks genuine leadership and that must inevitably be reflected in their performance.
There is currently no leader seemingly capable of getting all of the players to collaborate enough to be focused on a single objective at any given time. This is the team’s major problem and has been that way for some time.
One wonders whether the WICB’s latest leadership strategy will lead to the eventual resolution of the myriad problems attendant to this.
There is no joy in saying, I told you so!