As if there weren’t enough things wrong in West Indies cricket, Sulieman Benn was sent off the field by skipper Chris Gayle during the fourth ODI against South Africa. While it sounds rather bizarre than Benn couldn’t comply with his skipper’s request to bowl from over the wicket, the whole fiasco, in a sense, exemplifies all things wrong with West Indies cricket.
When a bowler is unable to execute the basics on the field, expecting them to win would be a miraculous dream. No surprises then that the Caribbeans have lost both the T20s as well as the four ODIs, and a 5-0 whitewash now seems imminent.
Innumerable articles have been written about the disaster called the West Indies cricket team, most with good intentions, since everybody loves the Calypso style of cricket. Still, nothing seems to change in West Indies cricket. Since the exit of Richie Richardson in the mid 90s, the mantle of captaincy has been passed on to every possible personnel in hope of rejuvenation.
But none among Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, Carl Hooper or Chris Gayle has been able to lead Windies’ resurgence. To be fair to the skippers, as they say, a captain is only as good as his team. And as far as West Indies cricket is concerned, a lot of it boils down to the mental aptitude of the players, which clearly isn’t the best in the current team.
Under the given circumstances, it is strange that Gayle has come out and chosen to say that he is happy with the team’s effort. It is understood that South Africa is by a wide margin the better of the two sides. But, instead of going through the motions, this fact should have encouraged the underdogs to go all out and prove a point.
In the process, if they had lost the series, it wouldn’t have mattered much since they weren’t expected to win anyways. However, the lack of application and consistency on the part of both the batsmen and the bowlers has been utterly disappointing.
In the third game, they couldn’t chase down a mediocre total of 224, and in the fourth match they were unsuccessful in defending a 300 plus score, clearly demonstrated that they lack the will to win.
The one good point that Gayle mentioned after the series loss was that they he feared the team might forget the art of winning. As things stand, this is becoming quite a distinct possibility. But, thankfully the otherwise jovial skipper recognizes the danger. It was also pleasing to hear that the team has cut down on the party count, and is focusing far more seriously on the practice front.
These sacrifices would count for little though if West Indies cannot turn things around soon. Also, Gayle isn’t getting any younger, and so he needs to instill a sense of confidence in the side by the time he quits the international arena.
Going back to where we began, in an ironic sense, it was good to see Gayle treating his left-arm spinner harshly. Discipline is one aspect that has never found too much respect among West Indian cricket lately. And, if the reprimand can help Benn get a better hang of himself as a cricketer, and as a person, West Indies can only benefit.
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