Windies look anything but champions

Saturday, February 22, 2014    

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Believe it or not, West Indies are entering next month's International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh as defending champions.

We well remember the pride and joy as the regional team overcame obstacles to reach the final in Sri Lanka in late 2012. And who can forget the wild celebrations, complete with gangnam-style dancing, when Mr Daren Sammy's men came from the dead to beat the hosts in the final.

On the evidence of what we have seen over the last few days against Ireland, there won't be much West Indian dancing in Bangladesh.

Yesterday's low scoring victory on a tediously slow pitch will no doubt make the West Indies players and management staff feel better. However, it won't ease the embarrassment of Wednesday's loss to a team far inferior in actual quality.

We won't deny that the West Indies entered the T20 series with the odd unavoidable disadvantage. For one thing, three main players, captain Mr Darren Sammy and senior batsmen Messrs Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, were just returning from injury and would have been match rusty.

However, for those watching on Wednesday especially, the feeling was inescapable that the West Indies team thought the game was won even before they took the field.

It may even explain the decision by the captain and his senior staff to take first strike in that opening game. For as it turned out, while the pitch was essentially sound for the first game, it seemed to be carrying a little too much preparation moisture for the purposes of the game's shortest version.

Until the moisture gradually dried out, the ball was coming on to the bat much too slowly for free stroke play.

That said, having chosen to take first strike, the situation required the West Indies batsmen — most with vast experience — to be thoughtful and selective in their choice of strokes.

They weren't, which resulted in the Irish — who for their part planned and executed well — coming out easy winners. Again, in yesterday's second match in difficult conditions, shot selection from senior batsmen left much to be desired.

The West Indies have had a hard time over these last few months. After a good run in Test match cricket since 2012, they suffered heavy away losses in all formats late last year to India and New Zealand.

Reports of discord within the camp in New Zealand, if true, would not have done team morale any good.

Then, too, there has been the odd peculiar action by selectors, none more so than the decision to leave behind the talented middle order batsman Mr Daren Bravo for the World T20.

What is clear is that there is much to be done ahead of the T20 World Cup. West Indian fans can only hope that tomorrow's final game against Ireland — a One-Day International at Sabina Park — to be followed by a short limited overs tour by England, will help to restore much-needed confidence.





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