Sat | Jul 20, 2019

Orville Higgins | Tough being a J’can sports fan these days

Published:Saturday | July 6, 2019 | 12:14 AM
West Indies’ captain Jason Holder gestures during the Cricket World Cup match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street, England, Monday, July 1, 2019.
Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore
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It is not a good time to be a sports fan in Jamaica.

As a Jamaican, you cannot help supporting the Reggae Boyz or the West Indies cricket team, and both teams have caused us some real grief over the last few days.

The West Indies ended the ICC World Cup second to last. Since the inception of the tournament in 1975 the West Indies has never performed as dismal as this at any stage. In every tournament since then, the Caribbean men have won at least three games. In this year’s edition, we won only two, and one of them was against the lowly Afghanistan. In the ODI format, the West Indies confirmed at the World Cup what we already know, that they are a very poor side.

As for the Reggae Boyz, we got beaten by the USA in the semi-finals of the Concacaf Gold Cup. Getting to the top four of the Gold Cup should have been something to celebrate. Maybe I am being too harsh. We did advance after all, finishing ahead of sides like El Salvador and Honduras. The truth, though, was that very rarely has a Reggae Boyz team looked so disorganised and poor. We got to the semi-finals not because we were playing great, but because the other teams were not offering a lot.

Sports fans by nature are eternal optimists. We will ‘cuss and quarrel’ about our team when they do not perform well, but you always feel that they will get it right soon enough. You always believe the next season will be better. What makes the recent performances of the West Indies team and the Reggae Boyz so hard to deal with is that one cannot see any bright days ahead for either team. Certainly not in the immediate future.

Both these teams lack the basics that should be commonplace at the international level. The weaknesses are well known.

In cricket, our batsmen are either unable or unwilling to pick up regular ones and twos. They can’t seem to score runs under pressure. Our bowlers, except when we are scaring people with bouncers, seem incapable of getting people out on a regular basis.

The Reggae Boyz, for their part, struggle with the fundamentals.

We can’t control, we can’t shoot, and we make passing the ball to someone in a similar colour shirt look like pulling teeth!

Where we go from here in both sports is anyone’s guess. Many things have been said and written about both these teams. We have seen changes in players and administration in both sports. Ricky Skerritt and his sweeping changes in the West Indies set-up had about the same effect as the long-anticipated acquisition of Leon Bailey for the Reggae Boyz. In one word, NONE.

In fact, truth be told, both teams would have performed worse than expected. After drawing with the mighty England in the ODIs earlier this year, a lot more was expected from us at the World Cup. We reached the last two finals of the Gold Cup.

With Bailey in our ranks, this time, we were expected to do better than what we did.

So clearly, the sports gods wanted me to suffer at the hands of these two teams. I am now in terminal depression and seeking a lift from somewhere. The Sunshine Girls start the quest for a world title in a matter of days. They are ranked number two and have arguably their best chance ever to take home the trophy. If they win, it would certainly erase the pain caused by the West Indies and Reggae Boyz teams. Netball, anyone?!