The Wright View | Brute force versus thought
The victory of the West Indies cricket team over Pakistan in Friday's opening match of their three game One Day International (ODI) series last came as a shock to many of us fans of the game. There may have been West Indians who genuinely thought that we could win the game after Pakistan posted 308 runs in their time at the crease. I have yet to meet any of those fantastic optimists, but I am willing to accept that they may really exist.
If memory serves me right, that is the first time in 31 tries that the West Indies have chased such an imposing total and won - a record according to the statisticians! Once again, cries of "dem turn the corner" echoed throughout the region, and Coach Law was rightly credited for explaining to any who would listen that cricket demands "thought" and not "brute force!" Wonderful!
Then in the second match on Sunday, the very formula that enabled us to win, was inexplicably abandoned for brute force as thinking was apparently deemed irrelevant. The result: another loss, spectacularly ill-timed as it was necessary to beat Pakistan by three games to nil in order to pass them on the list of teams that will automatically qualify us for major tournaments. On Sunday, the captain of the team, Jason Holder, was praised for his defiant innings, with a strike rate of 87 per 100 balls. He did defy the odds, and he did show the earlier batsmen what was needed early in the game to keep wickets in hand for an onslaught at the end.
But I do believe that when he came to the wicket and when the game was over, a strike rate of 87 gave us absolutely no chance of victory. How could a "thinking" victory in the first ODI morph in to a ram-bam-thank-you-ma'am in the second? Experience, my dear Watson, experience. Legendary former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards publicly bemoaned the fact that our best and most experienced cricketers were plying their trade in other leagues while our young and inexperienced "second eleven" struggled. He placed the blame for our predicament squarely on the shoulders of the Dave Cameron led Board, whose policies seem to value "respect" for board members over ability to play cricket. So it is left to Coach Law and Jimmy Adams to fast track thought over brute force in young and inexperienced cricketers. I think that they can, given time. My fervent hope is that for the rest of this year, none of the two gentlemen named pass any board member anywhere and not smile and call them "Sir".
London Marathon and Olympic marathon winner Jemima Sumgong has tested positive for the banned substance EPO in an out-of-competition 'no notice' drug test two months ago. The result will be confirmed if the athlete forgoes a B sample test. This is another blow to the authenticity of some of the results seen and lauded in Track and Field. Readers may recall that in the London marathon, Sumgong fell dramatically at the start, and got up and eventually won the race to praises and plaudits all around, only now to be unmasked as a cheater. Then the race director for the London Marathon, Hugh Brasher, has been quoted as saying that there are more cheats in sports. They just have not been caught as yet. He blames the quantum of financial rewards for victory as the driving force behind the use of drugs in sport. He may be right, but spare a thought the idea that if and when cheaters are caught, they can be banned for life, and money earned in the 18 months prior to their positive test be calculated and a repayment schedule implemented with court proceedings to follow if the money is not paid back in full. That would be an attention grabber that would dramatically tilt the scales when contemplating the cost/benefit ratio of taking drugs. Currently, whistle-blowers, no-notice, out-of-competition tests, athletes' passports and the now-dreaded retest eight years later do not seem to be enough to halt the use of drugs. The sport is being tarnished regularly by these revelations. Something else is needed to discourage cheating.