The Wright View | Bowlers who can think
On Sunday morning, cable viewers had the privilege of watching two one day internationals (ODI. Australia played against India, and England played against the West Indies.
In their 50 overs at bat, Australia made a below-par 293 for 6. In the ensuing run chase, India responded with 294 for 5 in 47.5 overs.
In England, the home team made a whopping 369 for 9 in their 50 overs at bat. The chasing West Indies succumbed to 245 all out in 39.1 overs. India's win over Australia ensured that they are now the top-ranked ODI team in the world of cricket.
Ninth-ranked West Indies, already relegated to the ignominy of playing against the lesser lights of world's cricket in order to qualify for the next ICC World Cup, had a faint hope of a successful run chase as long as the 'Universe Boss' Christopher Gayle was at the crease. But after a valiant attempt, Father Time, a tight hamstring, and a direct throw all seemed to conspire to make an unlikely but possible victory disappear with his walk back to the clubhouse.
West Indies Coach Stuart Law has stated that the team will now concentrate on producing a team capable of competing in the World Cup. He needs a lot of good, old-fashioned luck. Successful ODI teams balance batting and bowling. Notice the balance in the top teams in this format of the game: India, Australia, England, et cetera. We have no bowlers, other than Sunil Narine, who seem to understand the art of bowling in this form of the game. The art of ODI bowling is not ONLY putting the ball in the right places, it is about knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the batsman facing you, and the ability to THINK and adjust bowling tactics when your planned mode of attack is just not working.
Afraid to speak out
If a batsman is good playing off his pads or doing well against short-pitched bowling in conditions that seem to allow the ball to get up only to hittable heights, why on earth would you continue to bowl at his pads or to bowl short-pitched balls? The answer lies in the fact that in the West Indies, the players who have shown an ability to think while on the field of play are also the ones who are sensitive to and notice injustice and inequality. They speak out when given the opportunity to do so. But in this region, those who speak the truth about injustice, or give an opinion about the way teams are selected or treated, are denied selection even if their performance on the field screams and demands a place on the team. Thus, the ones who keep quiet, bite their lips when seeing and feeling obvious wrongs in how the game is administered, find themselves selected and given chance after chance when every statistic says 'drop me'. And we wonder why we are at the bottom of the pile of nations ranked in ODI's.
West Indies cricket needs a revolution. We need the best players of cricket in the West Indies to represent us in international competition. The present system of vengeance, bad mind and 'carry feelings' against those who are critical of administrative decisions has proven to be detrimental to our success as a cricket playing amalgamation of Caribbean natives. Time for a change is now, or watch us struggle to beat Afghanistan and Ireland in qualification next year.
In the USA, Colin Kaepernick, a quarter-back with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, decided to protest the targeting and killing of unarmed minorities by white police officers. He decided to put his body at half mast, (kneeling) during the playing of the American National Anthem, a revered and traditional start of NFL games. He was applauded by some and condemned by most. His punishment: unemployment in a league where he is, by far, better qualified than many selected in his stead. A debate about his treatment went on even after the season started. Then came the head of the nation, the President of the USA, Donald Trump.
As the NFL battled with lawsuits and rule changes aimed at protecting the players from catastrophic injuries while playing a brutal contact sport, the President bemoans the fact that referees are not allowing "big hits" anymore. And if that was not controversial enough, he announces at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama that those players who place their bodies at half mast while the anthem is playing should be fired - for daring to protest!
On Sunday, every NFL team responded in some way against the President's suggestion. I am confident that none of the players protesting will be fired. Is that a lesson for our Caribbean sports participants who discern injustice or inequality in their lives? Can they now realise what UNITY can achieve in the fight against wrong? We will see.