And so the British have completed the predictable sweep of the West Indies Cricket team to open their 2009 “summer” season.

Let me begin by conceding that the defeat was not as bad as it appeared.  Somehow, the WICB was convinced to defend the Wisden Trophy in the north of England in May when even the English do not venture outside save for cigarette breaks.  Secondly, anyone with a tinge of balance in the mind and who watched the home series could see that the West Indies lost that series comprehensively based on any other method of assessment but the actual results of the games. They won one magical session in Jamaica but lost almost every other session in the series.  With a lead in a home series and needing only to bat forever thereafter, the Windies went so far as to decline to accept even the smallest of  psychological edges by persistently giving away the benefit of the toss on flat wickets with a mediocre bowling attack.  In those circumstances, given such a quick return match, the English very much had the revenge factor in their favour and, together with the clear (or maybe cloudy would be a better word) advantage in the home conditions and the West Indies still insisting that they would not accept the benefit of winning the toss at Lords, the Windies task was, in reality, closer to hopeless than Billy Bob’s chances of getting back with Angelina.

So the defeat was not as bad as it looked.  But it was bad.  We fielded pathetically and surrendered with the bat at every opportunity.  We refused to accept any advantage, sending England in to bat at Lords and then spilling the simplest of catches in the after-tea session as if to ensure the loss.  If this was horse racing there would have been a stewards’ enquiry.

Anyway, it’s over.  Surely now, our administrators will look to the future; learn from the past; and put together not only a side but a philosophy that will carry West Indies cricket forward.  And, regrettably, we must begin with the Captain.  His rash statements regarding his ambivalence for the job put together with his persistent throwing of games at the outset by surrendering the advantage of the toss means that he must be fired immediately.  What has he produced that entitles him to any better treatment than was given to past captains with more statistical success than him?  The issue is not what to do about the present Captain; it is who should succeed him.

And that question is not really one of personnel but philosophy.  What West Indies cricket needs now is not necessarily the best player but the person best committed to West Indies Cricket.  Please note that Andrew Strauss, who stands on the threshold of regaining the Ashes for England, plays almost no other cricket than for England.  He has no competing distractions like the IPL (bless its heart, it has its place) and rarely has time to play County Cricket.  We need a full time captain who must be contracted and paid accordingly.  Normally,  Ramnaresh Sarwan would be automatically in line for the post but, to my mind,  his antics in New Zealand place him in a similar position as Gayle with his commitment in doubt.  Winners never quit and quitters never win.  Thank you for your application, Ronnie, but no thanks.

The best cricket captain in the West Indies for the last five years has unquestionably been Daren Ganga and his record as a Test opening partner of Chris Gayle is better than any other partner Gayle has ever had.  Yet he is continuously treated as if he has cricketing leprosy.  I just don’t understand it.  I am not as close to the game as I should be and maybe there is an obvious defect that I am not seeing but, for me Daren Ganga is the best choice.  He does not play IPL; he is a committed and disciplined person and a successful captain.  And he as much deserves a place as Devon Smith, Wavell Hinds, Lendl Simmons, Dale Richards or any of the makeshift openers used in the last 5 years.  Young Ramdin is a captain of the future but not just yet.  The team of Ganga as Captain and Ramdin as Vice Captain will take the cricket wherever it can go.

Then, we need a winning philosophy regarding balance of the team; coaching; and playing schedules.  As head coach, John Dyson has done a pretty decent of carrying water in the basket he was handed and, so long as he leaves the complicated mathematics to others, should be given a long-term contract.  But, who is his deputy?  Who will take over from him?  Are we trying to expose our past greats to his style and expertise so they themselves can one day aspire to that position?  And, why oh, why, do we not yet have specialist batting, fast bowling, spin bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping coaches chosen from among these Greats?  It is a must for a team so weak in so many areas.  West Indies administrators need a winning philosophy.  Young cricketers must be contracted to the team and sent to school to learn history (including cricket history) and the basics of formal education.  They must be taught social graces; speechmaking and given lessons in confidence so that they do not shrink from any opponent for any other but reasons of superior cricketing skill.

And we must NOW begin to build a team with a winning philosophy.  The new Windies must be made to understand that they are a team and, regardless of where the man beside them comes from, he is a member of the team whom you must wholeheartedly support as he will you.  In the rebuilding process, those most closely associated with persistent losing and failure must be eliminated from the team.  Who do I mean?  To begin with, anybody named Smith.  I mean that Jerome Taylor and Sulemon Benn should be the sole survivors of the current bowling attack.  Benn is not the best technically but his attitude is great and he has not yet got that losing habit.  It’s time for us to bite the bullet and say goodbye to Christopher Gayle and Ronnie Sarwan.  Please don’t bother telling me how fantastic they are.  When last have they been on a winning team?  How do they fit in with what will be required regarding team spirit for the future?

If you implement the decision-making process clinically, logically and properly, you will not be able to go wrong and the dismissals of Gayle and Sarwan from the team will suddenly become as obvious as Michael Holding in a room of English commentators.  The beginning of the process is to formulate a philosophy (Mission Statement) as to the way to success.  This can only be done by polling the West Indies cricket fans region-wide.  What do we expect from the team?  What are the team’s current strengths?  What are their weaknesses?  Where are the opportunities to improve?  Among the youth or within the established team?  What are the biggest threats to our success?  Lack of commitment or technique or both?

When the answers to the poll come back; are tabulated, collated and analyzed, the way forward will be crystal clear and the development of a Philosophy/Mission Statement the simple first achievement.  Suddenly, we will be wondering how the Gayles, Sarwans, Smiths; Hinds; Samuels; Edwards; Powells; and Collins of this world lasted so long.  But, if we continue to put on blinkers and listen only to those occupying the same boardroom as us with the same huge rear-ends to cover, we will never see the light.

The Gayle/Sarwan era is past.  It was not a pleasant era.  Let’s hasten its demise and say hello to the Ganga/Ramdin era.  Let’s stock the team with fresh, fast, fit, feisty youngsters (and TALL fast bowlers, please) who can bowl for a session without breaking down or bat for a day and who can occasionally catch a cold in the field.  Let’s have batsmen with a proper defensive technique and an attacking mentality not men who throw the bat at everything and have no intention of missing the 2:30 at Newbury.  And don’t even think of resuscitating Marlon Samuels.  Let the dead bury the dead. He and his friend Gayle who took an exciting junket together in India that cost Samuels his career but Gayle nothing should be permitted to spend a happy retirement together in India playing in the IPL.

This will appear at first blush to be blasphemy.  We need different results so our inputs must be different.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  But, if it is broke………………….



  1. Paul Wright Says:

    Very out-of-the-box. I do not agree with every thing said but I do believe that something[anything?] must be done. Certainly this blog needs debate. But deepdown I fear that very few of the so-called experts will respond.

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