T20 World Cup 2021 – West Indies Struck Out

As dreaded by many West Indian fans their T20 World Cup men’s team made a tepid defense of its 2016 title with a wimpish display of poor lazy cricket losing 4 of the 5 matches played in the UAE.

By the way, congrats Australia for winning the tournament.

When the West Indies squad for the T20 World Cup was first announced, quite rightly, there was outrage by many fans and former players across the Caribbean. What first struck many about the squad was how old and out of form many of the selected were in recent years.

The squad resembled a farewell tour for a number of senior players whose stardom had long faded but survived on the international scene due to name recognition.

Leaving out Jason Holder from the initial squad was an insult to the big man. Since 2016 Holder has carried West Indies cricket – in the 3 forms – on his shoulders and his exclusion was senseless.

I have long had problems since 2018 with the West Indies keep hoping and wishing for the likes of Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and even Kieron Pollard will return to their glory days on a consistent basis. These players had hardly played for the West Indies since 2016.

I defy anyone to tell me when was the last period when Andre Russell has delivered with the bat consistently and successfully for the West Indies in 1 calendar year. Yes, the big man from Bodles, Old Harbour was banned for whereabouts violation and has had numerous injuries but don’t tell me Russell has done anything of significance for the West Indies in recent times with his hard hitting.

Yet selectors and fans will tell you that Russell  is a certain starter as a batter. I don’t get it.

I can throw the same logic at skipper Kieron Pollard. Solid form the Mumbai Indians (waned a bit lately though) but a shadow of himself in the Maroon shirt.

The likes of Gayle and Bravo should have willingly stepped aside and give the young players a chance to develop and shine for the senior squad.

To me picking Andre Fletcher was a sackable offence for Roger Harper, chief selector. It would have been wiser to go for Joshua Da Silva as the backup keeper (to Pooran) given his solid performance in the recent CPL final for the champions St Kitts & Nevis Patriots. But Fletcher?

The selection of Ravi Rampaul was a slap in the face to the younger fast bowlers who stayed and played for the West Indies. Rampaul had given up his West Indies playing ambitions when he signed to be a Kolpak player in English domestic cricket which meant relinquishing any chance of playing for the West Indies. But Kolpak is now dead due to BREXIT. Jayden Seales was a far better option or even Dominic Drakes.

Instead of choosing Gayle the selectors should have gone for someone like Sherfane Rutherford or Kyle Mayers who is a genuine allrounder that plays spin very well, a strong hitter and has a knack taking crucial wickets.

Yes, the winning Australian team fielded players -with the exception of Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa – all  in their 30s. But at least the eventual winners were all fit physically and mentally, ego free and made the necessary adjustments as they progressed through the tournament!! 

Australian and West Indies reacted differently after they were both crushed by England in the early group games.

Board vs Players

The wheels of West Indies T20 cricket began to fall off the minute Carlos Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels took the Darren Sammy-led side to a sensational  win in the T20 final over England in 2016.

After winning in 2016 many of us fans prayed that the West Indies cricketing administration, coaching staff and strategists would not make a cow’s mess of the T20 infrastructure as they have done in the test/ODI arena. How wrong we were.

In 2016 the West Indies T20 team was ranked 3rd. Today the side has slumped to 10th and now has to qualify for the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.

I do fear if the West Indian cricket fraternity does not get this act together the likes of Namibia and Ireland will go above them in the T20 rankings.

The relationship between senior players and the Dave Cameron-led Cricket West Indies administration became so toxic right after the 2016 World Cup and the damage was irreparable.

But Cricket West Indies has missed numerous chances in transitioning the younger players into the senior squad team for a sustained period.  

The likes of Nicholas Pooran, Seales, and Shimron Hetmeyer has to be seen as the future of West Indies cricket and the squad constructed around these players. I’m not forgetting Evin Lewis.

Emerging Short Thinking

When the West Indies emerging players squad (a team made up of young players who were not picked by their own nations) won the 2019 regional 50 over tournament, I felt that team displayed the kind of infectious team spirit and energy that you rarely saw in any West Indian international or regional cricket team on the field. These emerging players were dynamic, fearless and played good hard cricket against their more established opponents.

I felt that winning emerging team should have been developed and kept together and play the next couple of years as a team in their own right in both the CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and regional 50 over tournament. Most of the players were under 24 years old.

That emerging team included the likes Jaydon Seales and Joshua Da Silva who have come gradually through to make the test team recently. That winning side also had Dominic Drakes who was the match winner in the recent CPL final for the Patriots. Seales, Da Silva and Drakes should have had more chances to play white ball cricket on a regular basis for the West Indies and be in the T20 World Cup setup.

Like I said back in 2019 bringing back Phil Simmons as coach was simply a bad idea. When Ricky Skerritt campaigned successfully in 2019 for presidency of Cricket West Indies (defeating Cameron) he made it clear that a West Indian coach should be in charge. Such a comment  was just asinine given the plethora of good coaches in the game across the globe.

Windies Tumbled by Rashid & Ali, Slaughtered By Warner & Co.

I was not surprised by how England annihilated the West Indies in their first match of the Super 12 with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali destroying our batting line-up with ridiculous bowling figures.

But the Windies’ performance in their last match against Australia was more embarrassing for me. They showed no fight and seem to lie down easily for the Aussies to saunter to an easy win. It was as if our players and coaches had no reaction to their dismal display performances in the previous matches.  Yet our players seemed to be more interested in ensuring their senior team mates got a big applause as each left the pitch for (hopefully) the final time.

West Indies batsmen have been dismal for some time when it comes to totting up on the number dot balls. Lendl Simmons’ batting performance against South Africa was the perfect example dot-ball fever. Our batsmen seem to believe it is all about boundaries and nothing whatever the playing conditions.

Maybe the coaching fraternity should bring in fines for the batsmen if they accumulate a certain percentage of dot balls whilst at the crease starting with the regional white ball matches.

England will be touring the West Indies early next year and by that time the senior management and coaching staff must pick a young squad and give them the chance to develop and fight!

The one person I wish suggest could come in for a mentoring position -even for a short period- who be Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik who has become a regular fixture in the CPL for Guyana Amazons. The way Malik has spoken passionately about the young West Indian players he has worked with at the Amazons was so inspiring even to me and those said players have spoken in glowing terms about Malik’s mentoring.

The CPL is certainly failing in nurturing players and needs a few changes to make it more competitive. At times the CPL resembled a carnival. I was not impressed in the latest version when certain top players were unavailable one day only to then turn up days later and play in the IPL.

T20 World Cup – A Powerplay Review

Congrats again to the tournament victors Australia who as usual defeated their neighbours New Zealand in the final. The Black Caps losing Devon Conway (injured) ahead of the final was a crucial blow to their winning chances.

Once the Aussies somehow overcame Pakistan in the semis a win for Aaron Finch’s team was a certainty given the Baggy Greens have had always the Indian  sign over New Zealand in the big international games.

David Warner and Mitchell Marsh showed up big time in the final stages; the West Indian bowlers had given both batters enough slogging practice in that atrocious bowling display.

I give the tournament 8 out of 10. Putting on World Cup right after the IPL was some achievement by the organisers in the UAE.

The group phase was way too long and knock out stage too short.  Too many meaningless matches in the group stage when net run rates gave certain top teams a big advantage when playing the minnows in the latter stages. Afghanistan vs Pakistan was the most exciting match followed by the 2 semifinals.

Winning the toss and batting last due to the dewing conditions proved significant. Maybe playing the semis & final in the daytime would have negated the dew influence and give each team a fairer chance.

16 teams in groups of 4 would be the way forward with the return of quarter finals. Especially when the tournament goes to USA/West Indies in 2024.

South Africa must be kicking themselves for not at least making the semis. India’s relentless effort to keep Ravichandran Ashwin out of their starting line up was cruel.

Pakistan finally defeating India in a major tournament was great for the sport. The team spirit between both teams was touching. Hopefully some of those players will play in each other’s premier league tournaments one day. Especially if held in the UAE or even play together in the CPL.

New Zealand getting to 3 straight finals in the various formats of the sport – with virtually the same players – is a testament to their planning and development of players. They play as a team and in Kane Williamson they have a super captain whatever the format. He keeps the team grounded and their game simple in all phases.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan were my players of the tournament.

About africanherbsman1967

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