July 25, 2021

Windies on sliding scale of decline

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Darren-Sammy-press-150216G720From Supersport

Darren Sammy needed treatment on his back, Andre Russell pulled up after bowling an embarrassing long-hop while fresh-faced captain Jason Holder speared a ball so wide that first slip was placed in immediate peril.

In three crude snapshots, the decline of West Indies cricket was perfectly captured and another miserable low point – defeat by Ireland at the World Cup on Monday – racked up.

Forty years ago, the West Indies won the first World Cup and then defended it four years later before finishing runners-up in 1983.

Since then, their one-day pickings have been mighty slim, a Champions Trophy victory in 2004 and a Twenty20 world title in 2012.

“We’re watching the death row of West Indies cricket,” tweeted Melbourne radio station, SEN 1116, following Monday’s four-wicket loss to Ireland in Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island.

To others, however, the Caribbean game’s heart stopped beating a long time ago.

Clive Lloyd, who skippered the West Indies to their 1975 and 1979 world titles and is now the head of selectors, believes the bish-bash but lucrative Twenty20, the sport’s shortest format, has diluted the talent pool, narrowed concentration and diminished skills.

“The players earn a good wage. They have the choice to play test cricket or T20,” said Lloyd.

“We are small islands and if you get a whole host of money, you are a king. This T20 competition has messed our cricket up.

“We have contracts, probably not as exorbitant as others, but they are getting good money. It doesn’t seem playing for our country is paramount where these players are concerned.”

The likes of Chris Gayle, the West Indies’ occasionally devastating opener, has virtually become a batsman for hire, playing for T20 franchises in India, South Africa, Australia and even in Bangladesh.

On Monday, Gayle was out for 36 – he has now not passed 50 since playing Bangladesh in August and the last of his 21 centuries was against Sri Lanka in June 2013.

He didn’t feature for South Africa’s test or ODI tour in December and January and refused the offer of a central contract before going on to accuse the West Indies Cricket Board of victimisation over their axing of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the World Cup squad.

Both men had been central to the team’s decision to abandon the tour of India last year over a pay dispute.

Money – or often the lack of it – has been a key factor in the decline and fall of West Indies cricket in recent years.

In 2009, the majority of senior players went on strike over contracts leaving selectors to name Floyd Reifer, who last played a test 10 years earlier, as captain. A 16-year-old Kraigg Brathwaite was also called up.

Bangladesh, themselves often mediocre makeweights, swept the test and ODI series as a result.

Former fast bowler Ian Bishop cited financial concerns, as well as the declining importance of the sport in the region, as factors behind the slump.

“It’s a reflection in the decay of values in general in the Caribbean, in all walks of life. People are running after the dollar,” said Bishop.

Such has been the long-running saga of decline that Bishop was identifying the problems in 2011 – all of which are still plaguing the game.

“Cricket demands hard work and commitment. Now, a lot of younger men are happier playing basketball under the lights at night. Cricket is no longer a way of life in the Caribbean.”

IMAGE: Darren Sammy © Gallo Images

For more on this story go to: http://www.supersport.com/cricket/cricket-world-cup/news/150217/Windies_on_sliding_scale_of_decline


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