Oral Tracey: Early exit for disintegrating Windies?
It was with genuine belief and optimism that some weeks ago I predicted that the West Indies should and would win the 2016 ICC World Cup T20 title.
My impression then was that the 2012 champions, like the other top contenders India and Australia, possess the necessary skill and experience to get the job done. Fundamentally, I thought then the Caribbean team, compared to the others, had more individual match winners in their ranks, which in the end would get them over the line.
Fast forward to here and now, days before the start of the tournament. The West Indies are absolutely falling apart. Four of those potential match winners, for one reason or another, are no longer in the squad, while a fifth, Andre Russell, will be playing with additional after news emerged that he shockingly missed three drug tests and could be banned for up to two years.
Lendl Simmons is the latest to withdraw from the squad with an injury. Before him there was the mystery withdrawal of batsman Darren Bravo, who said he wants to concentrate more on playing the longer versions of the game. Kieron Pollard failed to recover from injury, while mystery spinner Sunil Narine said he was not confident enough in his bowling action to take part in the tournament.
Despite the reasonable quality of the replacements in Carlos Brathwaite, Johnson Charles and possibly Dwayne Smith, enough damage I think has been done to the core of the West Indies unit that they will now struggle to lift that trophy.
Losing all of five first string potential match winners has destroyed the blueprint for the success of this team.
The injuries to Simmons and Pollard apart, the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of Bravo especially, is disappointing, to say the least. To my mind, it could give the impression that the Brian Lara look alike has basically deserted the team. In instances of desertion, the West Indies Cricket should fine and sanction players.
As a general principle though, no player should have the right to dictate when and where he plays.
The Russell indiscretions are also unforgivable.
I am still in shock and disbelief that a player at this elite level of cricket is not able to navigate his way through such basic obligations as adhering to the drug-testing requirements.
Narine's decision to opt out, while still disappointing, is more understandable due to the recent woes relating to his bowling action. The wish was that the desire and passion of this group of players to represent the West Indies in this format of the game would overcome all else. That is obviously not the case.
Our recent pathetic performances and embarrassing results at the Test and ODI levels are well documented and with our Twenty20 team representing the only credible unit on the international stage, it basically tugs at the heart to see this team falling apart. Our last hope of immediate international success is rapidly evaporating.
One could venture into being extremely optimistic and hope that the remaining members of the squad will use the absence of these key players as motivation to energise and lift their individual efforts enough for them to march on and win the trophy. That would make good material for a dressing room team talk, but is a stretch of the reality.
Confidence and optimism about the West Indies winning the World T20 have now been reduced to nonchalant hope. The fact of the matter is that the team has in part disintegrated and from here could struggle to make a significant impression. Indeed it is quite possible that the West Indies could make a very early exit from World T20.