“Drastic Changes Needed Now in Under-performing West Indies Men’s Test Team!” by Colin Croft

1st November 2015

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

Not surprisingly, Sri Lanka beat West Indies 2-0 in two Tests. However, the way it was achieved must give thoughts that some present WI players have completed their last Test innings.
SL beat WI in Test No. 1 by an innings and six runs. Not even batting twice could WI; 251 and 227; overhaul SL’s 1st innings 484. Test No. 2 was closer, SL winning by seventy-two runs after making 200 and 206. WI could only muster 163 and 171.

These outings showed that WI does not have attitude nor aptitude to win regularly, despite celebrated presence of Sir Garfield Sobers, a visit that must have been bitter-sweet. The world’s best cricketer ever, despite even his tears, could not cajole WI’s players to better performances.

Possible “positives” for WI were batting by Jermaine Blackwood and Darren Bravo, bowling of Davendra Bishoo and Jomel Warrican, and all-around efforts of Kraigg Brathwaite and Captain Jason Holder. All else who played in those Tests are skating on very thin ice!

WI next play Australia in three Tests starting December 09 at Bellerive Oval, Tasmania. The interval until that series gives WI’s selectors an opportunity to make desperately needed changes to this seriously under-performing team.

Thus, the four-day WICB’s Professional Cricket League 2015/16, especially those games to be played by November’s end, take on extreme importance for players who missed out on that SL tour, such as Guyana’s Verasammy Permaul and Leon Johnson, hoping to impress.

Johnson’s situation is confusing. His last two Test innings were 54 and 44, batting at No. 3 against South Africa last January, which WI lost by eight wickets. Yet, given the mediocrity of present WI batsmen, Johnson did not even get a look in v England or Australia who toured the Caribbean earlier, nor toured Sri Lanka. Very strange, but now, he must produce afresh!

Shai Hope’s opening experiment has been hopeless. He might be the future, but not to Australia, unless he improves productivity in upcoming PCL. He looked uncomfortable, out of place, devoid of feet movement v SL. 23, 06, 04 and 35 do not cut it at any level. Even opening, Johnson could not have done worse.

A pertinent comment on ‘Caribbeancricket.com’, reference the recent death of former WI opener Basil ‘Shotgun’ Williams, suggested; “Two hundreds in a seven Test career and some get excited about Shai Hope scoring a mere 35. Different times; different standards.” Quite!

Left-arm orthodox spinner Permaul may have missed an opportunity but Warrican debuted well; match figures of 45-4-129-6. Those should allow Warrican to continue to Australia’s more bouncy pitches. Again, the PCL should give guidance.

Marlon Samuels is no longer an enigma. Now he is just a failure and must be dropped. Frequently compared with Carl Hooper’s batting ability, Samuels’ SL Test trip was embarrassingly poor. Even worse, he seemed totally uninterested in proceedings, a player languishing in that unsavory place called purgatory!

For a senior batsman with 61 Tests and a Test average, like Hooper, only in mid-30’s, there is absolutely no excuse for Samuels anymore. 11, 00, 13 and 06 indicated his form and mindset, so WI’s selectors must give him another jolt of realism after such abject failure!

One problem, though, for WI’s selectors is that there are not many names ready to replace Samuels or others who should be dropped, like Denesh Ramdin, and some of the faster bowlers too. PCL cannot start early enough so that new talent could, hopefully, evolve.

Ramdin may still be the best wicket-keeper in the Caribbean, but his batting has also been putrid, so there must be serious consideration given to 2nd wicket-keeper on that SL tour, Shane Dowrich, who could, incidentally, also open the batting. Ramdin’s 23, 11, 14 and 10 in two SL Tests must make his position very tenuous indeed.

But it is with the faster bowlers that WI has serious headaches. Kemar Roach reminds me of when, inadvertently, my Nissan Maxima Cefiro once ran out of gas as I drove from San Fernando to Port of Spain in T&T. Only deafening silence was then heard as I coasted to a stop!

Like Roach now does as supposed fast bowler, I ambled to the nearest gas station two miles away to get gas in a can. Unlike Roach, that did not leave me puffed. Two wickets in three SL innings is absolutely poor for any front-line bowler. Roach needs to be re-tooled, not re-gassed!

Shannon Gabriel is not getting better, despite much attention to fitness. He is still way too bulked up, not unlike a USA’s M-1 Abrams war-tank, to produce that elasticity and flexibility to bowl fluidly, quickly and successfully. At least those tanks have deadly ammunitions!

Jerome Taylor is simply marking time, not even trying to bowl quickly anymore, the most senior WI bowler only producing just enough to get onto the next tour, doing a good smoke-screen job too, as he must realize that he is nearing the end of his bowling stint. Against SL, he had six wickets in three innings!

WI need newer players now. Drastic changes must be made now! Enjoy!

C.E.H. Croft

Colin Everton Hunte Croft was one of the fast-bowling giants of West Indies’ glorious period of world dominance. In his international career between 1977-82 he was part of a devastating 4-man pace attack alongside fellow greats Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner (with a young Malcolm Marshall as first reserve). In 27 Tests he took 125 wickets at 23.30 with a best of 8-29 v Pakistan in only his 2nd Test Match. He was a member of West Indies’ World Cup winning XI of 1979, and took the match-clinching wicket, spreading the stumps of England’s Mike Hendrick, to finish with figures of 3-42. In his post playing days ‘Crofty’ has been a teacher, commercial pilot, coach and a shrewd and honest cricket analyst, writer, broadcaster, commentator and summariser – gaining respect internationally for his insightful and forthright opinions and, not least, his splendid wit. Roland Butcher’s Hook is delighted to have Colin as a contributor.

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