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West Indies no match for Australia

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Tony Becca, Contributor

When the West Indies took on Australia in the five-match one-day contest which ended in Melbourne on Friday, everyone knew that the Caribbean team was below full strength and none more so than captain Chris Gayle.

That was why he must have been joking when he said, for all to hear, including opposing captain Ricky Ponting, that the Windies were going to whip the Aussies four to one.

In fact, as far as the strength of the West Indies team was concerned, it was worse than not being at full strength.

It was weak, really weak.

With Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Adrian Barath, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, and Sulieman Benn plus Dwayne Bravo out due to injury, the West Indies were without seven of their 'sure pick' players - three batsmen, three bowlers, and their all-rounder.

Maybe that is why Gayle 'reasoned' that he could have lost one match and was not bold enough to predict a five-nil clean sweep.

The result is now history. Australia won four-nil, and probably because he had given them one before the start, Gayle said nothing after he had lost the first match.

After losing the second match, however, Gayle said the West Indies would win the contest three-two, and after rain had ruined the third and only two were left, he changed again and said it would end in a two-two draw.


As it turned out, but for a few performances by batsmen Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith, by all-rounder Daren Sammy when the last match was all but over and Australia kept bowling 20-year-old right-arm leg-spinner Steve Smith who conceded 78 runs off 9.5 overs, some fine bowling by left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, and a few brilliant catches, including a truly magnificent one by Wavell Hinds, it was disappointing, almost embarrassing.

With seven players out, this West Indies could not be reasonably expected to challenge this Australia, even though the Australians were without injured fast bowlers Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clarke, Peter Siddle, and Ben Hilfenhaus, and even though, in the interest of development, Australia kept resting players and exposing others.

The truth, the harsh reality, is that the West Indies were weak in every department of the game. They were weak in team selection, in batting, in bowling, in fielding, and looking at the decisions to bat or to field and at the changes in the batting order from match to match, also in captaincy.

Even without the top seven, the West Indies performance was disappointing, and it was disappointing not only because of the scores and the results.

It was disappointing, and embarrassing, because the players represented the next best in West Indies cricket and mostly because of the poor technique of the batsmen who, almost to a man, got out like novices.

Almost every delivery that swung or cut off the seam got a wicket, was edged short or wide of fielders, hit the pad, or smashed into the stumps.

The West Indies batsmen even pushed at deliveries wide of the off-stump, some of them attempting to glide the ball through the slips and were out caught off the face of the bat. Some of them, like Denesh Ramdin and Narsingh Deonarine, not moving their feet, attempting to cut or to play off the back foot, and knocking the ball onto their stumps.

Batting line-up

West Indies batting line-up, in any kind of cricket, with Runako Morton batting at number two, Travis Dowling batting at number three, Lendl Simmons at number four, Narsingh Deonarine at number five (worse at number three), and Ramdin at number six, was disappointing.

What was really embarrassing, however, was to see them going in and coming out like lambs, victims not so much of the bowlers' skill but more so of poor technique.

Some of them batted as if they have never been told, for example, not only that they must move their feet in order to get behind the ball or close to it, but that when playing back, a batsman should go back and across, not back and away.

When it came to something as basic as running between the wickets - judging a run, getting into a position where one can see the ball when turning for a second run, or simply running in a line to protect one's wicket from a run-out attempt, the West Indies, unlike the well drilled, well groomed Australia, were simply amateurish.

The West Indies now move on to the Twenty20, and with batsmen like Gayle, Pollard, and Dwayne Smith, they could win that contest.

Win or lose, however, there are a few questions which should be asked and which, hopefully, should also be answered.

Although he is a brilliant fielder and a capable part-time bowler, I do not believe Brendan Nash is a one-day cricketer.

The first question, however, is this: why was Nash selected for the tour yet not selected for even one match when the batting was so disappointing and even after his team fell for scores like 143 in 34.2 overs and 170 in 39.4 overs?

The second question is this: why was fast bowler Gavin Tonge selected for the tour and then, especially with Kemar Roach injured, not selected for even one match while Dwayne Smith opened the bowling and Daren Sammy selected and coming on first change?

As far as I know, and can remember, Pollard and Dwayne Smith, who batted quite well in the circumstances and especially Pollard, are batsmen who bowl a bit, and with only two specialist bowlers, Rampaul and Miller, the team needed two more bowlers.

Quality and quantity

Bowlers win matches, quality is always better than quantity, as bowlers Pollard, Smith, and Sammy are not specialists, too many cooks spoil the broth, and may be that is why Australia ran up such huge scores, why the West Indies, with seven batsmen plus Ramdin and Sammy, could not even challenge them, and why Australia, with a balanced team every time, nailed the West Indies early on the way to winning all four matches comfortably.

In the first match, the West Indies, who won the toss four times, stumbled to 12 for three and 44 for four batting second, in the second match, they were 16 for four and 77 for six batting first, in the fourth match, after chipping to 44 without loss, they were 55 for three and 146 for six batting second, and in the fifth and final match, they were 19 for three and 39 for four batting second after losing the toss.

The West Indies did not need Sammy. With Pollard and Smith in the team, and also Hinds, they needed at least one more bowler.

The final question is this: how come the West Indies selected Pollard and Smith and sent Ramdin to bat ahead of them at number six?