Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Gordon Robinson | Born loser!

Published:Sunday | September 8, 2019 | 12:20 AM
West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd raises his glass in a toast as he faces the crowd of fans at Headingley after his side’s victory over England by 55 runs in the fourth Test match in 1976.
Jason Holder has been a failure as West Indies captain, writes Gordon Robinson.
1
2

Based on media reports (I stopped watching West Indies play Test cricket years ago), Jason Holder trotted out his standard template during a post-match interview after losing the second Test match against India last week:

“Obviously we are disappointed … .”

Ya don’t say? Well, he did. Again! He says it after every losing game, which is 60 per cent of the time since he was handed Test captaincy in September 2015. His Test record is nine wins (2 versus Bangladesh; one against Zimbabwe); 20 losses and five draws. His record includes an ignominious loss to Bangladesh by an innings and 184 runs. So, why should “we” be disappointed after another day at the office earning an exorbitant match fee?

“… We didn’t play a complete game of cricket in both the games … .”

Son, your team hasn’t played a complete game of cricket in 10 years. The overall Test record from 2010 is 21 wins; 41 losses; 18 draws. That’s a win percentage of 26 per cent. Your win percentage is 26 per cent. West Indies’ win percentage from 2010 until you took over was (you guessed it) 26 per cent.

In one-day internationals (ODIs), West Indies’ record from 2010 to when Dwayne Bravo was sacked and Holder anointed (January 2015) was 40 wins; 54 losses; two no results/three ties or a win percentage of 40 per cent. Since the Boy Genius has been captain, the record is 24 wins; 58 losses; six no results/two ties or a win percentage of 27 per cent!

Disappointed? Who? Not me! What value has Jason Holder added except to tape and replay post-match comments?

“… The bowlers gave 100 per cent … on the field every single day of this Test series … . The bowlers have delivered. It has been a heavy workload on the bowlers and at no point have they dropped their heads. Every time I called on the bowlers, they stood up for the team. Kemar Roach was exceptional and Shannon Gabriel was good again. Rahkeem Cornwall came in for this match and he fitted in quite well. He bowled long spells and showed his quality.”

Sheesh! How much does he love the bowlers? Let me count the accolades. Obviously, it’s the batsmen’s fault. He didn’t say so explicitly (this time), but has said it so often in post-match interviews that even he must be tired of hearing himself whine about the batting. I certainly am.

So, OK, what have YOU done about it, Jason? After all, you’re rumoured to be team captain. Have you spoken to the culprits? Have you threatened them with consequences if they don’t shape up? I don’t want to hear you don’t have the authority. If you don’t, something is wrong with your relationship with CWI and you should insist on the authority or that CWI find another captain. Young Jason, you were appointed captain while still a cricketing infant. That wasn’t your fault. But you accepted the appointment, and so should’ve realised it meant you had to grow up immediately and ACT like a captain.

First up, stop complaining publicly about your players.

I have a story for young Jason. Clive Lloyd didn’t whine or complain after that soul-destroying 1975-76 tour of Australia when Lillee, Thompson, Walker and Gilmore battered some of the greatest ever West Indian batsmen (Viv excepted) into submission. Lloydie decided to implement the lessons taught by the Aussies regarding the importance of pace.

But, when West Indies arrived in Trinidad for the second Test against India, cricketing politics forced Trinidadian spinning ace Raffick Jumadeen into the side. Trinidadian Gary Sobers-wanna-be Bernard Julien and Barbadian leg-spinner David Holford also played. The first day was washed out and the game ended in a draw. India batted once and scored 402/5 declared. Jumadeen took 2 for 79.

The third Test was also played at Queen’s Park Oval. By then, Trini pressure resulted in Imtiaz Ali being added. Bajan off-spinner Albert Padmore replaced Holford. West Indies fielded THREE SPINNERS, plus Julien, then batted first. Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards scored 177 (Lloydie 68) out of 359.

On the spinners’ paradise, India was scuttled out for 228 by the great Michael Holding (6 for 65), who produced another masterclass of how to bowl fast on an unresponsive wicket. Imtiaz Ali took 2 for 37; Jumadeen none for 33; and Padmore one for 36. Lloydie declared the second innings at 271 for 6, setting India the impossible task of scoring 403 runs in the fourth innings of a Test match on a turning wicket.

DWL! Sunil Gavaskar 102; Mohinder Armanath 85 (run out); Gundappa Viswanath 112 (RUN OUT) helped India to cruise home by six wickets before what sounded like an Indian home crowd. Jumadeen took 2 for 70; Imtiaz Ali none for 52; Padmore none for 98; and Julien none for 52. Roy Fredericks bowled two overs; Lloyd six.

Lloydie summoned the spinners after the match and said, “Gentlemen, I owe you an apology. Obviously, I didn’t give you enough runs to bowl at. Please let me know how many you’ll be requiring next time.” My recollection is none played for the West Indies again after that series. In the fourth Test at Sabina, Holding’s terrifying pace forced India to surrender. Indian skipper Bishen Singh Bedi literally waved the white flag. Jumadeen, still in the team, bowled only 10 overs.

Why hasn’t Jason Holder dealt swiftly and decisively with any batsman he feels is letting the side down? Or resigned in protest if anybody prevents him from doing so? When is he going to become a leader?

Which brings me back to Jofra Archer! No matter what the apologists say, there’s NO EXCUSE for CWI’s rejection of Jofra Archer. Where are the allegedly promising bowlers who were picked over him to be found now? If that sort of leadership was around in 1975, nobody would know who Michael Holding is. We know of Michael Holding’s greatness because Clive Lloyd insisted on having him in the team to Australia despite three mediocre seasons for Jamaica, taking 16 wickets at 51 runs each. A similar thing happened years later as an unknown named Fidel Edwards bowled to captain Brian Lara in the nets, who immediately insisted he be in the side.

It’s always best to work hard and suffer adversity in order to succeed. Those old enough will remember how Lloyd struggled to keep a place on the team. Then he was assured he’d be captain when Sobers resigned and was flown home by Guyana’s PM, only to be told Rohan Kanhai was being made a “stopgap” captain as a sinecure.

Finally, when Lloyd succeeded Kanhai, nobody (other than perhaps Worrell who suffered similar pre-captaincy adversity) had prepared for the job more thoroughly than he. He said:

“When the news sank in, I came to believe that in appointing me, the West Indies were looking for some kind of long-term leadership. So I decided the job of leading the West Indies should be taken with utmost seriousness and I set myself a number of goals. The first priority was clearly the need for team unity … . In return, I was able to offer them assurances that I would work to improve their position. I started out from the premise that I wanted West Indies cricket, and West Indies cricketers, to be treated with respect.”

Lloyd consistently fought for his players while demanding 150 per cent from each in return. He resigned in protest after the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) unjustly sacked Haynes and Austin, who signed for Kerry Packer and demoted vice-captain Deryck Murray. Lloyd wrote: “I’ve resigned as captain of the West Indies cricket team because I believe the time has come for the WICBC to make very clear the principles underlying the selection of the present team and to take whoever is selected as captain into their confidence in terms of the criteria for selection.”

Almost the entire team withdrew in support of their captain and a second XI West Indies side completed that series then lost one in India. WICBC soon capitulated and the real team was reinstated under Lloyd in time for the 1979 World Cup, which they won handsomely.

Brian Charles Lara carried water and towels for the West Indies team for years before being picked. Sir Frank Worrell was forced to play under inferior captains because of racism, then offered a contemptuous salary to finally lead.

Jason Holder had none of Worrell’s, Lloyd’s or Lara’s advantages from adversity. He was handed captaincy of the world’s most celebrated cricketing treasure at age 23 without an opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of others’ experiences. But he could’ve tried to learn. Instead his leadership skills remain sadly lacking and he seemingly has nobody to mentor him.

Time for him to step up. Or step out.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.