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|Windies seniors outplayed, outthought, outclassed and embarrassed|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 22:04|
... must improve in all departments
WEST Indies senior cricket team was thoroughly outplayed, outthought and outclassed in all aspects of the game, ending the most disastrous tour to England in the most embarrassing manner when they were severely beaten by seven wickets by a re-configured England team in the Twenty20 International at the Nottingham ground. After suffering two humiliating and crushing defeats in the One Day Internationals, many felt that the Darren Sammy-led team would have salvaged some dented pride and at least win the only T20 match for the series, thus ending the tour on a happy note.
Sadly, the star-studded West Indies were humbled and embarrassed by a virtual newcomer to international cricket, Alex Hayes, who produced a match-winning superlative batting display that enabled England to celebrate a complete ‘whitewash’ over the over-confident West Indians who lost the Test, ODIs and T20Is series.
The records would show that West Indies did not win a single international match and although they had lost the Test series (2-0), there was much optimism that the team will performed much better in the limited overs and Twenty20 formats.
There has been much talk and media play promoting West Indies’ overall strength and players’ all-round abilities to acquit themselves with distinction in the shorter formats but there was a rude shock for the visitors when England crushed them by 114 runs in the rain-affected First One Day Internationals at Southampton.
There was no revival of fortunes for the West Indies team.
In fact, greater disappointment and disaster followed when the much more focused and businesslike Englishmen proved that their victory in the first match was no fluke and maintained their superiority over the hapless West Indies team.
Despite solid contributions from Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, England registered a comprehensive seven-wicket win in the second match, while the third match was abandoned due to heavy downpour and a waterlogged field. (Check “brijparasnath.blogspot.com” for greater details of those matches).
With power-players Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Bravo and Pollard as well as unorthodox spinner Sunil Narine in the line-up; all of whom excelled in the T20 format in the 2012 Indian Premier League; there was huge expectation that West Indies will end the disastrous tour on a winning note at Nottingham.
Batting first, West Indies started dreadfully with Gayle dismissed cheaply for two runs off nine balls, followed back to the pavilion by Lendl Simmons (6 off 8 balls) and the in-form Marlon Samuels (4 off 4 balls) and were 30 for 3.
Smith restored respectability with a dazzling 70 that was studded with five sixes and four fours off 54 balls while Bravo (54 runs, 36 balls, 1x4, 3x6s) and Pollard (23, 13 balls, 1x4 and 2x6s) featured in an electrifying face-saving partnership as they mustered 65 runs in the final five overs to carry the total to 172 for 4 wickets off the allotted 20 overs.
The total was defendable but England’s new opener Hayes and Ravi Bopara changed every equation with a new record-breaking second-wicket partnership worth 159 runs, the best for any wicket by an English pair and the second best for the second wicket for all teams, bettered by Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara’s 166 versus West Indies at the Kensington Oval on May 27, 2010.
The cheerful spectators at Nottingham watched their own budding star Hayes who treated WI bowlers with scant respect and displayed sumptuous strokes for an all-time England’s best T20I innings of 99.
Pacer Ravi Rampaul, bowling round the wicket, denied Hayes the coveted triple-figure mark with a yorker-length delivery that cannoned unto the stumps after Hayes failed to connect and just missed out on becoming the first Englishman to score a hundred in the shortest international format of the game. He also became the first player ever to be dismissed on 99.
Not getting the hundred was a big disappointment for him and his Nottinghamshire county supporters. But the bigger picture is that the 23-year-old would have cemented his place in the England team for the ICC World T20 tournament.
He smashed four sixes and six fours off 68 balls while Bopara struck one six and four fours off 44 balls for his 59. Rampaul (4-0-37-2) was the only wicket-taker while Narine’s figures of 4-0-28-0 could have been slightly better had skipper Sammy (at wide mid-wicket position) held on to catch offered by Bopara when he was on 44.
Narine was in his fourth over and 18th of the innings with England at 151, still needing 22 runs from 16 balls and in with an open chance for WI to secure the elusive victory.
Having enjoyed the let-off, Bopara smashed Rampaul for two consecutive fours in the 19th over, before Rampaul, who was smashed for three sixes by Hales earlier in the innings; finally nailed him with a deadly yorker to deprive him of the century but could not deny the Englishmen the clean ‘whitewash’.
While there were a couple encouraging signs of improvement from some of the players, the true picture reveals that West Indies did not win a single international fixture on the recent tour.
West Indian cricket fans had to endure monumental marathon-like roller coaster rides with the fluctuating fortunes of the West Indies senior team over a decade and more but especially in the last eight years.
The Brian Lara-led West Indies team won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004 when they narrowly edged out England in a thrilling final at The Oval.
That was the last global title any West Indies team won and many thought that they were witnessing the emergence of a powerful unit to compete successfully in other competitions thereafter.
But that was one of the many false dawns that indicated that West Indies senior cricketers had turned the proverbial corner and would move in the ascendancy with the hope of reclaiming lost pride and stature in the Test arena.
Countless utterances from many players and officials associated with various teams over that period also created the feeling of complete readiness and supreme confidence that they would do the impossible and demolish their opponents.
However, the results over the years have shown otherwise and revealed that the West Indian players, in the heat of intense battle, lack the mental toughness and technical proficiencies to rise to the occasion and accomplish their goals to back their public proclamations.
We have arrived at the stage where all those who are involved in the promotion of West Indies cricket need to embrace objective analysis and appraisals of the performances of all those given the opportunity and important roles to perform at the highest levels.
The players as well as technical staff members have revealed various levels of deficiencies in all three formats. But there can only be dramatic and significant changes for the betterment on a long-term basis with frank discussions, coupled with impartiality and professionalism with other stakeholders who are experienced and can offer the useful guidelines for progress and improved performances.
As we look towards the ICC Twenty20 World Cup to be staged in Sri Lanka in September, England, admirably led by Andrew Strauss, and well supported by all members of his team had retained the coveted Wisden Trophy which is contested whenever England and the West Indies teams engage in battle for supremacy in Test matches.
But with the arrival of Christopher Gayle to strengthen the West Indies, there was much hope and optimism that the team would have been very competitive and prevail over the Englishmen in the formats many believe that West Indians favour.
England, on the other hand, lost the services of their talismanic strokemaker Kevin Pietersen who shocked everyone with his premature retirement from ODIs and T20s Internationals.
The records would show that the South African-born player is their best ODIs and T20s player and for him to retire suddenly would have been a major setback for them. In his last two ODIs against Pakistan, Pietersen, who was promoted to the opener’s spot; registered two match-winning hundreds.
Cricket fans love the entertainers and Pietersen has been one of that select group.
The two centuries against Pakistan showed that Pietersen’s elevation to the top of the order would have allowed the English selectors the chance to strengthen their team and be successful in ODIs.
However, he claimed that the great demands of representing England in all three formats internationally was having an adverse effect on him physically and that he wished to persevere much longer in the Test arena. And his reluctance to make his services available caused much uproar and there was much uncomplimentary stuff said and written about him in the media.
But the England’s captains Alastair Cook (ODIs) and Stuart Broad (T20Is) and respective teams buckled down to the task to prove themselves against hyped-up opponents who could learn quite a lot from the conquerors.
West Indies were once the mighty conquerors and dominant force in world cricket. But based on their recent woeful performances in England, the Englishmen have reversed the tide and fortunes with high class professionalism and performances as they become the celebrated conquerors over the struggling West Indians.
All three variations of the English teams exposed WI players’ all-round technical, tactical and mental weaknesses in all three formats. They were superior in every department and every match and played with a different level of commitment and drive to succeed.
Hopefully the West Indies players can learn from their mistakes as well the wonderful attributes from their opponents and become more proficient in all departments of the game so as to be able to compete successfully against the other leading cricketing nations again.
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