Adrian Frater | Windies woeful in qualifying
In what, for me, was strictly a case of parochial loyalty, I took time out to watch the recently concluded eight-team ICC World Cup 2018 Qualifier, which featured the Windies, and I must admit that while some aspect of the cricket was quite intriguing, I was far from impressed, especially with the Caribbean side.
With our opponents being mostly cricketing neophytes, I expected the Windies team to blow through the competition easily, albeit that we were without established stars such as the powerful Trinidad and Tobago quartet of Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and brothers Dwayne and Darren Bravo.
To say I was embarrassed by the overall performance of the Jason Holder led Windies team would be an understatement. In my opinion, the team looked no better than the other teams, especially in the 'Super Six' phase, where we basically struggled and were probably more lucky than good in grabbing one of the two qualifying places for next year's World Cup in England.
In fact, now that we have qualified, I am quite worried that unless the team improves significantly by the time we get to England next year, we stand to be battered and bruised by class teams such as India, South Africa, England and Australia. I am particularly worried that we could do serious damage to the legacy of the all-conquering Clive Lloyd led team, which won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
Under what appeared to be quite friendly conditions in Zimbabwe, where teams like Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan all looked well-prepared, organised and playing to a plan, the Windies team looked rather disorganised and seem to be running purely on their reputation of the past, which clearly did not frighten or intimidate their opponents.
Frankly speaking, it would appear that the selectors were not aware that we were going to play 50 overs cricket based on the selection of players such as Shai Hope, Devendra Bishoo, Nikita Miller and Kesrick Williams, who clearly were not suited for that type of cricket, which required controlled aggression and high energy.
Lack of aggression
While skipper Holder did reasonably well with both bat and ball, I believe his captaincy lacked creativity. Unlike occasion-driven captains such as India's superstar leader Virat Kohli, who make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen, the Windies captain was clearly reactive instead of being proactive, which I found most uninspiring.
The batting of veteran Marlon Samuels and Hope left a lot to be desired, as their consistent lack of aggression resulted in them soaking up far too many deliveries without providing the kind of returns that one should reasonably expect. I believe the snail pace of their batting was primarily responsible for putting the other batsmen under the pressure, which caused them to buckle, especially in the crucial games.
Had it not been for Holder, Evin Lewis and Rovman Powell, who were reasonably consistent with their power hitting and were able to dig us out of trouble after being left to play catch-up by Hope and Samuels, we probably would be left out in the cold. I believe elder statesman Gayle and young Shimron Hetmyer showed glimpses of good form, but both suffered from inconsistency.
In the bowling department, except for Holder, Kemar Roach and young Keemo Paul, the Windies attack lacked penetration and was tame to the point that the Afghanistan batsmen treated them with disdain in the two games we played against them. Williams, Carlos Brathwaite and Miller basically struggled while Bishoo was a complete waste of time.
I am not sure how much work the Windies can do to improve ahead of the trip to England next year, but unless something drastic is done, we could be in for a rough, if not embarrassing, time. Personally, I quite worried that our qualification could do more harm than good to our reputation, which is steadily eroding year after year.