Growth, but WI must be more efficient

Saturday, May 20, 2017

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This newspaper agrees with West Indies cricket Captain Mr Jason Holder that, notwithstanding their 1-2 loss to Pakistan in the just-ended Test series in the Caribbean, his team showed “a lot of fight”.And we suspect Mr Stephen Harrison from St Mary has a fair amount of company when he says in his letter to the editor published on May 17 that he feels motivated to start watching West Indies cricket again.

Curiously, though Mr Harrison was probably very annoyed, as were many others, he made no mention that for the first time in many years West Indies played three Test matches in a row without a Jamaican in the 11. It reflects, we suggest, an instinctive loyalty towards the regional team despite the stresses, strains and frustrations of the last 15 years and more.

Even the roar of disbelief and dismay following Mr Shannon Gabriel's extraordinary mental aberration, which handed Pakistan victory with just six balls remaining in the third Test, underlines the reality that interest in West Indies cricket remains strong.

Ironically, Mr Gabriel has been at the forefront among those in Mr Holder's young Test team fuelling revival of public interest by dint of performances.

Over the last year, Mr Gabriel, a 29-year-old Trinidadian fast bowler, has taken on the mantle of leader among the West Indies bowlers, improving by leaps and bounds over the period.

Mr Gabriel made a grave error last Sunday, but it is human to err. Now he must be given the support he needs to get back to that frame of mind which will allow him to continue serving West Indies cricket with distinction.

Mr Holder, too, deserves high praise for his leadership and for his outstanding example as bowler and batsman in the just-concluded series. Now 25 years old, the Barbadian shows all the qualities needed to become a world-class all-rounder.

And we dare not forget another 25-year-old Barbadian, Mr Roston Chase, who ended the series as top batsman on either side. We are encouraged that, in addition to his obvious talent, Mr Chase appears to possess a cool head.

We note West Indies Head Coach Stuart Law's recognition that much needs to be done if his young, talented team is to achieve consistent success. The truth is that, even with obvious growth over the last year, West Indies made far too many basic errors in the outfield and behind the stumps against Pakistan. Also, bowlers must develop the discipline to avoid no-balls. It's not an over-reach to suggest that had fielders and wicketkeeper been more efficient in taking catches and stumping opportunities, and bowlers more disciplined in keeping their front foot behind the line, West Indies may well have won the three-Test series.

Such slackness has contributed to the decline of the West Indies down the years so that now they are not among those contesting the Champions Trophy (50-overs competition) set to start soon in England and Wales.

A tough three-Test tour of England is to come in August and September. Before that, Mr Law must get his players ready for shorter-format competition against Afghanistan, India and also England in that country. Mr Law will know that the signs of real, substantial growth must continue.




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