Tom Maston of Maston in the Middle ponders what next for the West Indies
In the first quarter-final of the cricket World Cup, Pakistan well and truly battered the West Indies into submission with an emphatic 10-wicket victory over Darren Sammy’s side. Many experts have asked whether cricket the Caribbean is ever going to reach the heights that it did in the 1980’s.
It is without doubt that the current side has some talented individuals who could win matches on their own, but they are yet to blend into a team that could challenge for honours in major tournaments. Despite three victories in the competition, defeats against the major nations seem to prove this theory.
It is without doubt that selection is one of the main issues that needs to be addressed. Many people predict that the injured Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh and Dwayne Bravo will return to the side, and this would obviously strengthen all aspects of the team.
Before the tournament, Barath was being touted as one of the batsmen to watch, but injury before the competition began meant that he never got the chance to shine on the world’s biggest stage. He was joined on the plane home by wicket-keeper Baugh, who was replaced by the unimpressive Devon Thomas, and he should be assured of a place in the side once fit.
All-rounder Bravo can win matches on his own, and the knee injury that he picked up in the WIndies’ opening match against South Africa was a massive blow to the whole team. Once he is back in the side they will look much stronger, and he could have been the difference in some of the matches that were lost in sub-continent.
The second decision that has to be made by the selection committee is that of the captaincy. Current skipper Darren Sammy had, at best, an average World Cup, and it has been asked what he offers to the side. His medium-pace bowling can be economical but not especially threatening, whilst his batting is very much hit-or-miss. His leadership has also been questioned, and it seems as if he is just taking up a place in the team that could be utilised by a younger, more talented player.
If Sammy is to be relieved of his duties, who are the contenders to replace him. There seems to be two possibilities. These are Chris Gayle and the afore mentioned Bravo. Gayle has previous experience of captaincy, but it seems unlikely that he will be reinstated. This therefore leaves Bravo as the only option, and if he can be aided by some of the experienced names in the current team, then he could become a successful captain.
With all things taken into account, it seems as if the West Indies should look to pick a side which looks something like this:
1. Chris Gayle
2. Adrian Barath
3. Darren Bravo
4. Ramnaresh Sarwan
5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
6. Dwayne Bravo (Captain)
7. Keiron Pollard
8. Carlton Baugh (WK)
9. Andre Russell
10. Devendra Bishoo OR Sulieman Benn
11. Kemar Roach
This side seems to have the balance that the current side lacks, with all-rounders Bravo, Pollard and Russell providing adequate bowling skills and the ability to finish innings’ with the bat. It also leaves the likes of Devon Smith, Sammy and Ravi Rampaul in reserve; all of whom could be called upon to reliably cover if there were to be any injuries.
All in all, the future for West Indian cricket is not as bleak as some may think. They have a wealth of young talent that, if developed correctly, could become some of the best players in the world. The powers that be have to make some key decisions in next few weeks, and if made correctly, could see the West Indies make big steps towards returning to their glory days.
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