Test Cricket not in the DNA of this West Indies team

By Donald Oliver July 23, 2020
England's Ollie Pope, center, dives to take the catch to dismiss West Indies' Kemar Roach, left, during the last day of the second cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Monday, July 20, 2020. England's Ollie Pope, center, dives to take the catch to dismiss West Indies' Kemar Roach, left, during the last day of the second cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Monday, July 20, 2020. AP Photo/Michael Steele

It’s been a long time since the West Indies has had consistently good results in Test cricket. In fact, since the Caribbean men gave up the Frank Worrell Trophy to Australia in 1995, we have only won 22 Test series. Twelve of those wins were against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, teams which do not represent the best this game has to offer.

Most of our joy, as West Indies cricket supporters in the recent past, has come from our advent in the world of T20 cricket. We have won 56 of 124 matches, of which 5 were no results. It’s a record which betters our Test match results despite the fact we only have a 45 per cent win record.

However, within that win record, we have beaten the best on the planet to capture two world titles. But because of inconsistency, we are ranked ninth in world T20 cricket.

So yes, as supporters, we have been living off scraps.

And that’s simply because West Indies doesn’t know what it’s like playing as a team anymore, which is fundamental when trying to be the best in Test Cricket.

We, in the media (and I have been guilty of this at times), try to shape a narrative which leans to the dramatic when trying to tell a story. So we may say stuff like; “the match was lost at the toss”, in the aftermath of a team’s failure to overcome.

No match is ever lost at the toss.

Or we may say “the turning point in the game was when he was dropped”. Again, this is just used as poetic license. More often than not, we miss minor shifts in the game, and we fail to take into account innocuous happenings on the field of play which may determine a wicket or even an extra run.

And Test cricket takes into account these minor shifts.

The reason why the West Indies team is so poor, especially in Test cricket is that we rely too much on individual performances.

We tend to get away with it, the shorter the game of cricket becomes because any one of our talented boys can win a match by sheer skill and will for a short period of time.

Ask any of our batsmen to bat an entire two-hour session to make just 25 runs, and save a Test match in the hot Sharjah sun, or in the cold Old Trafford breeze, and they struggle mentally and otherwise to do so.

However, if you ask the same batsmen to hit 4 sixes in an over to win a T20 World Cup, we actually stand a better chance of doing so. And we would remember their name for a long time to come.

In the midst of sustained pressure, this West Indies team flops. This doesn’t mean they are not a talented bunch of youngsters. The fact our captain Jason Holder is now the number two allrounder in the world speaks to his skill and hard work. However, he alone cannot win a Test match.

Test cricket is all about how a team performs. If last-man-standing, Courtney Walsh didn’t survive five deliveries on a cool Tuesday afternoon at the Kensington Oval in March of 1999, no one would be heralding Brian Lara’s 153 not out against Australia as one of the greatest Test innings of all time.

Grit and fight are needed to make a formidable Test cricket team. These are the attributes which were the hallmark of their current coach Phil Simmons when he was playing. And this West Indies team lacks it. That cannot be taught. However, it can be harnessed through adversity. The fact that these West Indian boys were able to reach so far in their careers shows they worked sufficiently enough to be the crème de la crème of the region. They now just need to learn how to lean on each other.

So even when a catch is dropped, they won’t be thinking that the course of a Test match is irrevocably changed against them. But they will go again.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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