Mon | Sep 25, 2017

The Wright View | No corner turned

Published:Tuesday | September 12, 2017 | 9:16 AM
West Indies' pace bowler Shannon Gabriel.

The unbelievable turnaround by the West Indies Test team which saw them coming back from a morale sapping defeat in the first Test, where they lost 19 wickets and the game in one day, to defeating the same team in the second Test by chasing 322 runs for victory in a little over a day's play, had every West Indian cricket fan wondering if this was the corner that they have been hearing about turning, as they long for a return to the glory days of relevance, not domination.

The realists among us fans, warned however that the vanquished English team would not take that defeat lightly, and would prepare for the third test as if their careers depended on an impressive 'comeback'. Most West Indian cricket fans were pleased with the never-say-die attitude of our young cricketers, but always in the back of our minds was the fact that the team lacked a steadying hand, an experienced battle-scarred warrior who could advise and assist when the going got really rough.

Well, the third Test ended in three days with the team showing that the corner that we all thought the team had reached was nothing but a mirage. The road was still as straight as an arrow on a downward slope. There is no doubt that the members of this Test team tried hard and never gave up. Wonderful qualities in any team, but there are flaws that keep recurring and must be addressed if this group of young men are to progress.

 

Consistent inconsistency

 

Shane Dowrich is the present wicketkeeper on this tour. He has made double figures while batting on only one occasion in this series. His wicket-keeping skills were highlighted in the third test with the flooring of a straightforward catch when English batsman Roland Jones edged one from Kemar Roach. I seem to recall that the Hope brothers can both keep wicket, and surely, with one of them floundering badly in the opportunities given to him, maybe, just maybe, a way can be found to keep him in the team, since the selectors are convinced that one day he will be as good as his more illustrious brother, Shai.

Shannon Gabriel is now well established as our main strike bowler. His pace and cunning use of the short pitched delivery, on target, is what every adversary fears when they go out to bat, facing this man with a ball in his hand. In the Third Test, our number one man bowled six no balls, including one that shattered the stumps of Ben Stokes, an adversary who always finds a way to frustrate the team when appearing to roll over England.

Shannon bowled 24 no balls in the warm up match against Derbyshire, leaving a discerning fan to suppose that a coach/experienced team mate/anybody, would work with him in adjusting his run-up, among other things, therefore minimising these recurrences. But, alas and alack, he continues to turn potential moments of triumph into moments of sheer dismay.

 

Questions on captain

 

Skipper Holder has been improving both as a batsman and a bowler with time and exposure. He is indeed a West Indian Test player. What he is not is a captain of a Test team. His field placing and selection of bowlers at critical times in matches defies rational explanation.

In the just-concluded third Test, Ben Stokes was just beginning to show signs of settling in when he handed the ball to our main man, Gabriel. There were three slips and no cover fielder for the previous batsman, and with Stokes facing, our skipper moves second slip to cover, and instructs third slip to move to second slip. Gabriel bowls, the ball comes off the edge of Stokes' bat, flies to where third slip was, the second slip fielder, Hope, dives full length, but the ball slides off the tip off his fingers, a life to the ever dependable Ben Stokes. A sheepish looking skipper then moves the cover back to third slip, blunder after blunder. Clearly unsuited for his role as a Test Captain.

So we move on to the sole Twenty20 game and a series of One Day Internationals. Stung by, (but not in any way embarrassed) by administrative and selection blunders, as a policy of revenge and vendetta have resulted in catastrophic losses, the team selected is the best we have to offer, minus the Bravo brothers. Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels are proven masters of the game, and Evin Lewis, Chadwick Walton, Andre McCarthy, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Kesrick Williams were among the top 10 performers in the recently concluded CPL tournament which the Trinbago Knight Riders won convincingly.

We should do well. Hopefully, their performance in England will lead to a new West Indian selection policy, where our best players are selected to represent us, the fans and people of the West Indies, and not some behind the scenes men with axes to grind.