Sat | Jan 25, 2020

Laurie Foster | Putting the Ireland whitewash into perspective

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 12:56 AM
West Indies white ball captain Kieron Pollard
West Indies white ball captain Kieron Pollard

The West Indies Cricket Team has just completed a 3-0 One-Day International (ODI) series win over fellow lowly placed Ireland.

One has to do some reflection to come up with a valid reason for the home side to boast about this victory. To be honest with ourselves, there can only be one. In the first two world competitions of this format, West Indies were on top of the ladder having reached there first in 1975, thrashing Australia in the final match and repeating the achievement four years later against England.

Those were good days but how has the mighty fallen? William Shakespeare, the renowned English poet would have said, “shrunk to this little measure?”

The answer is clear. Following the glory days of Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, the regional team has struggled to unearth players of quality and sustained commitment to assist in regaining the lofty position it once boasted in world cricket.

One must admit, before a reader trashes this argument, that some who came later, like Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and a few others, including the inimitable Brian Lara, were of the required standard, but then problems of leadership and accusations of crippling insularity surfaced.

In that scenario, the current team should slap themselves on the back, celebrate the unique position of first to secure a home series win of this magnitude in six years, while not forgetting that, given the history of excellence and the heights that had been attained, the 3-0 win is no big thing. There are other rivers to cross, which should be considered a whole lot more threatening than an encounter against Ireland.

This is the year 2020. The West Indies hold the distinction of having won the last two world tournaments at the T-20 level. Serious questions will be asked in Australia later this year when this format will be staged at the highest level.

There, the West Indies will face up to the real monsters in the game as they did at the ODI Championships staged in England last summer. They were beaten out of sight then. What hopes are there that they will fare any better despite their billing as back-to-back double champions?

They will shortly face Sri Lanka with whom they share a ranking of 81 points, coming to that level courtesy of the defeat of Ireland by a 3-0 margin. It will be another ODI event.

Foster’s Fairplay would be happier if the West Indies team was given the opportunity to sort itself out through a plethora of T20 games leading up to the global event later in the year. At this point in time, it cannot be said that the squad which is due to travel Down Under is yet decided. There are a number of players who have immense talent but have been performing sporadically, so should not be seen as certainties. The selectors should have a tough time coming to the final group which will board the plane.

Recently, it was announced that Christopher Gayle, once known as the greatest T20 player, has made himself available for naming to the team. He needs to do a lot more. If he is to be considered, and one doubts that he will be, he should announce his readiness to participate in series for the West Indies and not seek to exclude himself and go on franchise cricket escapades.

Plus, needless to say, he should perform at a level that demands selection. Only then should the so-called ‘Universe Boss’ be asked to join the trek to Australia. This is not gimmick cricket and Gayle should be made to understand that.

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