Time is run­ning out on West Indies

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

TIME DOES not stand still. It waits on noth­ing or on no one, re­gard­less of what it is, or who he is. It is as sim­ple as that.

Time, how­ever, does not move back­wards. Time al­ways moves for­ward, as it did in 1950, ac­cord­ing to the out­stand­ing West In­dian writer, C.L.R. James, au­thor of Be­yond the Bound­ary.

Talk­ing to an English­man at Lord’s min­utes af­ter the West Indies had de­feated Eng­land by 326 runs at Lord’s to level the se­ries at 1-1 on their way to win­ning their first Test se­ries in Eng­land, and af­ter the English­man had en­quired if that West Indies were not the same West Indies that Eng­land had de­feated so eas­ily in their three pre­vi­ous home se­ries, James replied, “Yes, but this time we come to teach.”

That vic­tory was con­sid­ered the wa­ter­shed in West Indies cricket.

Be­fore that 3-1 tri­umph over Eng­land, the West Indies had never won an over­seas se­ries apart from the 1-0 win over In­dia in 1948-49, and that proved to be the start of a bril­liant run that saw the West Indies sit­ting on top of the world while pro­duc­ing some of the world’s great­est play­ers 30 years later.

While they have con­tin­ued to pro­duce a few great play­ers since, the West Indies have been fall­ing for the last 25 years in what some may call a free-fall and oth­ers, sim­ply, a dive.

Let’s face it: West Indies cricket is no way near to what it was 30 years, or even 50 years ago. In fact, for the past 25 years, or so, it has gone from the very top to al­most the very bot­tom, and in ev­ery form of the game.

From be­ing num­ber one for years, the West Indies are now num­ber eight in the Test rank­ing of 12, one above Bangladesh, af­ter just mak­ing it out of the num­ber nine po­si­tion and in the com­pany of Zim­babwe, Ire­land, and Afghanistan.

And de­spite the oc­ca­sional bril­liance of a few play­ers, and with all the ad­ver­tis­ing gim­mick around West Indies cricket, in spite of all the plead­ing for time to de­velop, all the talk of mov­ing up the lad­der, all the talk of the many promis­ing young play­ers around the is­lands, and the talk of turn­ing the cor­ner, that is the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion in which West Indies cricket finds it­self.

In One-day rank­ing, the West Indies are num­ber nine and Bangladesh num­ber seven, and in T20 rank­ing, the West Indies are num­ber seven and Bangladesh num­ber 10.

One should not rea­son­ably ex­pect the West Indies, or any other team, to be at or near the top for­ever. Once one has ex­pe­ri­enced it, how­ever, it is dif­fi­cult to for­get it.

On top of that, and re­gard­less of the rea­sons, re­gard­less of where the blame lies, be it with the board, the selec­tion process which seems in a mess at this time, the play­ers, the sys­tem, or the tech­ni­cal peo­ple, pos­si­bly be­cause of the miss­ing play­ers due to the T20 game and the search for more money, 25 years in the wilder­ness is a long, long time, and es­pe­cially when one has en­joyed be­ing num­ber one, and for so long.

For some of us who have ex­pe­ri­enced the good days, and es­pe­cially at first hand, while it is good to win, it is not easy to find any­thing to cheer, to jump and dance for, when a vic­tory over the num­ber ninth team comes along.

SAT­IS­FY­ING VIC­TO­RIES

Maybe peo­ple like us are in­deed old-timers, but at least peo­ple like us, even in the present sit­u­a­tion, re­alise the dif­fer­ence, if the West Indies are lucky, be­tween beat­ing the present Bangladesh, Zim­babwe, Ire­land, and Afghanistan and even some­times win­ning against Aus­tralia, Eng­land, In­dia, South Africa, and New Zealand.

Vic­to­ries over the best are al­ways more sat­is­fy­ing, and more en­joy­able, than vic­to­ries over those of lit­tle achieve­ment, and those ranked below the West Indies, and reg­u­larly, at that.

Times are dif­fer­ent, things have changed, but re­gard­less of ev­ery­thing, time is run­ning out on the West Indies: they are nearer to Zim­babwe, Ire­land, and Afghanistan than they are to Aus­tralia, Eng­land, or In­dia.

The fans of West Indies cricket are tired or hear­ing, from the top, “Give us time”, and “West Indies cricket is mov­ing up the lad­der”, and from the coaches and cap­tains, af­ter ev­ery loss, “we just did not bat well, or smart enough”, or some­thing like that, “our field­ing let us down”, or some­thing near to that, “the bowl­ing was too in­con­sis­tent”, or some­thing like that, and, as Car­los Brath­waite af­ter the last de­feat, “I think we are get­ting closer and closer to find­ing that proper plan.”

Maybe the prob­lem is the lack of money. Maybe it is the board’s pol­icy of de­pend­ing on foreigners to solve the prob­lem, which is at the root of the prob­lem. Maybe it is know­ing who to se­lect in which for­mat of the game, and maybe the prob­lem re­ally rests with the play­ers.

The play­ers of to­day, most of them, are re­ally not as good as the play­ers of yes­ter­day, and that has noth­ing to do with the pos­ses­sion of, or lack of, what is gen­er­ally called tal­ent.

With each gen­er­a­tion boast­ing “tal­ent”, and when one sees the “tal­ent” dis­played by some play­ers of the later gen­er­a­tion, it can­not be the lack of “tal­ent”.

It is more than that: prob­a­bly it is noth­ing more than the chang­ing times.

It is, how­ever, noth­ing that the play­ers can­not change, and re­gard­less of what else is hap­pen­ing around them.

All the play­ers need to do is to fo­cus, not only to hope and to dream of achiev­ing great things, but to prac­tise and prac­tise, to train and train, in or­der to ac­com­plish great things.

“cricket West Indies is no way near to what it was 30 years, or even 50 years ago. In fact, for the past 25 years, or so, it has gone from the very top to al­most the very bot­tom ... .

Mem­bers of the Bangladesh team cel­e­brate vic­tory over the Windies in the third One-day In­ter­na­tional at Warner Park in St Kitts on July 28.

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