WI Runs Into Another Mack Truck

The entire Caribbean region jumped for joy when the West Indies appeared to have had something of a resurgence enough to see them through to victory in the last edition of the T20 World Cup organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
A word of caution was nonetheless given in respect of the tendency towards overreaction of the peoples of the Caribbean region given the history of the current West Indies cricket team.
Time and again a victory is followed by accolades and a strong suggestion that we have finally turned the corner.
Some, like this Columnist, have always insisted that more often than not when we turn the corner we almost inevitably run headlong into a Mack Truck. This seems to be the case once more.
Following the showering of accolades across the Caribbean consequent upon our World T20 victory we travelled to Australia where we suffered the ignominy of a 5 – 0 beating that reminds us just how much we are not ready to return to the glory days of the past.
Many are wondering what has gone wrong with West Indies cricket?
Many more ask the question, when would we ever return to the glory days of West Indies Cricket?
Yet others bemoan the inadequacy of our team when it matters and ponder the many issues that impact the game in our part of the world.
One thing is certain. Following the tremendous win at the World T20 competition the West Indies team has run smack into a huge Mack Truck called Australia and it all happened Down Under.
The T20 World Cup
As the World T20 competition approached last year much attention was focused on the West Indies cricket team.
Followers of the T20 version of the game were well aware of the capabilities of the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo in turning things around at any given time.
Caribbean people thought the likes of Sammy and Darren Bravo could easily bring added support to the aforementioned enough to carve out victory. The bowling focus was more on the spin of Sunil Narine more than on the pace bowlers.
While at home much weight was not placed on the West Indies to win the global community gave the team a great chance of pulling off the much-needed victory in the competition.
The team members went into the competition with a certain amount of confidence that ultimately served them well one match after another.
Prior to the start of the tournament captain Darren Sammy and others were very upbeat in their international interviews citing the strength of the team on paper as giving them a very good chance of carrying off the top prize.
The team did not disappoint. The international cricket community was correct in its analysis of the chance of the team. The West Indies were crowned World T20 Champions 2012.
The players worked diligently throughout the competition and operated like a well-oiled machine dispatching their opponents in grand style.
There were times when the team appeared invincible.
Immediately following our victory the victory-starved Caribbean community started talking nonsense of having returned to the top of the game. Many were the commentators in this vein so much so that others who spoke otherwise were chastised for being almost unpatriotic.
Sure, the team had won the world title but did it turn the corner? Certainly not!
Caribbean T20
Once the world T20 competition ended the Caribbean focused on the regional competition of the same variety. Many thought that given the outstanding performances witnessed in the world championships the regional version would have been worth the while.
No such luck!
The current crop of players of the game in our part of the world seem not to understand much about its history or what it means to us as a Caribbean people who once engaged in what has been dubbed, Liberation Cricket. It simply does not seem to matter to them that they are hugely ignorant in this regard and how that impacts their approach to the game and ultimately their performance.
The 2012 edition of the Caribbean T20 Championship was putrid, to say the least. In hindsight it appeared as though the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) organised a party, invited the region’s teams to play and only Trinidad and Tobago came with an understanding of what the invitation entailed.
Our own Windward Islands team threw away the very first match and lost their way thereafter. They never seemed to recover.
The entire region soon enough found out that the Jamaican team was at best a hotbed of internal conflict that was nothing short of disastrous and an embarrassment to the game and the peoples of the Caribbean.
Only Trinidad and Tobago seemed to have considered the regional competition important enough to persuade their best players to all come to the party and showcase their wares.
The insensitivity of the current crop of cricketers in the region was evident in their failure to recognise that the WICB has essentially made a pact to have the tournament sponsored. In the process the Board may well have missed an excellent opportunity that will eventually emerge for all to see. The myopia will soon enough be exposed.
No one seemed to have found anything wrong with having the regional T20 just before heading off to Australia to play the One-Day Internationals. One can only suggest that perhaps the leadership of the WICB thought that the shortest version of the game made ideal preparation for the 50-over variety.
There can hardly have been any other explanation.
But then again, the WICB does not have to explain any of their actions to the peoples of the Caribbean. They never did and may well think it unnecessary to start now.
The players, seemingly interested in the money more than the art of the game, have capitulated. They have not been prepared to lift their approach to the game in front of their own Caribbean people who have supported them whether they are up or down.
Indeed it now seems that to the West Indies players the people are not in the least bit important.
Confronting Australia
Interestingly, the crowds in Australia must have been taken in by the performance of the West Indies in capturing the World T20 Championship title. They came to watch them play against their home team. Perhaps they were hoping that somehow the World T20 title meant a resurgence of West Indies cricket and the spectators wanted to see this new-found enthusiasm for themselves.
They were bitterly disappointed..
Unfortunately for the Australian lovers of cricket the West Indies were humiliated, losing by an embarrassing 0 – 5 margin.
From the very first match in Australia the West Indies team seemed doomed to fail. The paltry 70 runs made did nothing to enhance the team’s reputation. Suddenly the heroism dissipated and the Australians had our players virtually running for cover.
It was shameful that we were playing a go-over match and the entire team produced a total – 70 runs – which the Australians wiped out before the ninth over was bowled. Nothing could have been more embarrassing.
The West Indies lost by 9 wickets with 244 balls remaining of a total of 300 balls in the match.
In the second match we lost by 54 runs.
In the third match we lost by 39 runs and that meant we had lost the five-match series.
Just when we thought there might be a change of fortune we lost the fourth by five wickets with 31 balls left to be bowled by the Australians.
In the final match we surrendered to a 17-run defeat.
It seems like the West Indies team does not care how they make the cricket history books.
The story is told of Nash, the bowler who Gary Sobers slammed for six sixes in a single over. Nash was quoted as saying that while Sobers entered the history books for his feat, he was also in there, even though he was on the receiving end of Sobers’ punishment.
The West Indies is unfortunately much like Nash. We continue to make history no matter what.
Some of the players on the Australian team were of the next generation that are prepared to take on the challenge of combatting South Africa for global cricketing supremacy. The players took to the field with a measure of conviction in respect of their mandate.
Throughout the hapless One-Day series the Australians were always dominant.
There were times when the West Indians looked as though they were in awe of the Australians. The attitude in the field at times left much to be desired.
The series in Australia has ended. The players will continue in the same vein since the WICB does not appear to have any answers to the problems with which the team is confronted – the players themselves and the incompetence of the Board.
Some of us are waiting with bated breath to see if the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) now under new leadership, will somehow find time to organise personal development training for the current crop of players, country by country.
We wait to see the extent to which WIPA can engender in the players of today a sense of history and an appreciation of the legacy that they must take into their hands.