Windies still have a lot of work to do
The West Indies cricket team, by its exploits over the last few days, has shown that not even a 3-0 ODI series triumph over Afghanistan is an indicator that there is any justifiable hope of future success.
After whipping the Afghans playing on Indian soil in the 50-over-a-side version, the West Indies, after opening the shorter format on a winning note, has sunk back to defeat in the final two games, bowing out at 1-2 to a jubilant Afghanistan side.
Somehow, there is a feeling of disgust by those who hoped that the earlier beating of the home team was a sign that better was in store for the Keiron Pollard-led West Indians. Notwithstanding the fact that they will be defending their World Cup title next year, they had not won a series at this level since 2014.
A series win against fellow minnows, as the Afghans are, should not deceive any well-thinking cricket fan in believing that things were any brighter than before.
There is a one-off Test match to end the Afghanistan encounters, followed by a series of limited-overs competition against India. It would be foolhardy on the part of any supporter of the Windies to believe that there will be a marked improvement when we face one of the giants of the game led by the batting ace, Virat Kohli. However, miracles do happen, so one has to adopt a wait and see, while not expecting much.
There was an unfortunate incident during the final ODI against Afghanistan that added insult to injury. Promising batsman and part-time wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran was caught on camera tampering with the ball, as the cricket saying goes. He has been given a four-day forced holiday from the T20 game. It was a long way past stupid on the part of the player to visibly scratch the ball with his thumb while doing his allowable polishing exercise. How could he have expected not to be picked up by the plethora of cameras that are known to spot every on-field movement? Has he never watched television coverage on a game, whether he is involved or not?
The sanction, as imposed by the world governing body of the game, the International Cricket Council (ICC), is appropriate. However, what is being heard are suggestions that there should be additional punishment from the West Indian authority, Cricket West Indies (CWI). Those who hold that view are likening it to the Steve Smith/David Warner incident in a Test match for Australia last year. They were suspended from all formats of the game for a year by their own principals of the game, Cricket Australia.
Whether or not it is deemed to be too light, one cannot support an additional penalty. Would not such an action constitute ‘double jeopardy?’ One should remember that after Cricket Australia handed down its sanction, there was no additional action by the ICC.
Foster’s Fairplay leaves it to the legal minds to decide on that, and it is hoped that CWI does that consultation before reacting to the views of some pundits. It would not be in their best interests in terms of player relationships to ignore that call.
Pooran will have to sit out his sentence, but there is a strange feeling that there is more to come.
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