Grading the Windies: No passes in my mark book for poor West Indies

By July 30, 2020
England's Stuart Broad, fourth right without cap, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of West Indies' Kraigg Brathwaite, front right, during the fifth day of the third cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. England's Stuart Broad, fourth right without cap, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of West Indies' Kraigg Brathwaite, front right, during the fifth day of the third cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. AP Photo/Michael Steele

The West Indies failed to retain the Wisden Trophy after going to England to take part in the first-ever bio-secure Test event, the #raisethebat series.  

From the jump, even playing against their own, it was clear something was amiss with the visitor’s batting but a win in the first encounter at Southampton provided hope that the usual collapses and an apparent inability to cope with good bowling were behind them, it wasn’t.

Now a win or loss happens as a team and there is never usually any particular person to blame, though many, suffering from the pain of loss may search one.

But, on the way to 113-run and 269-run defeats, there must have been a number of persons who failed to perform at the level they should, even against obviously superior opposition.

So let’s grade this team and how they performed, beginning with the selectors.

I’ve decided to make each individual’s score out of 30, 10 marks for each Test. The grading scheme may be a little harsh as there will be no As, Bs, or Cs. This is strictly pass or fail and the pass mark is 66%, meaning you can only consider yourself passing if you played well enough to in, at least, two of three Tests or 2/3rds of the time. 

West Indies selectors

The team of Roger Harper, Hendy Wallace, Lockhart Sebastien, Miles Bascombe, Phil Simmons and Jason Holder are the selectors who picked the team for the #raisethebat series and they got some things right when they picked a four-pronged pace attack for the first match in Southampton while ensuring a longer batting line-up with Jason Holder coming all the way down at number eight. Picking the same team again for the second Test was also the right call even if it didn’t quite work the same way. In that second Test, the team could have drawn or won the game had a few things gone their way. Where I find fault with the selectors, is not seeking to fix what appeared the most glaring problem. The batting. Instead, they chose to tinker with the bowling line-up in a game the West Indies could ill-afford to lose. Dropping Alzarri Joseph for the spin of Rahkeem Cornwall was an error. This was an error, especially given the success Roston Chase had been having bowling at the English. There was also the fact that they didn’t think to tinker with a misfiring top order. For the first two games, I will give the selectors 8/10 each. For the last game, they get 2/10 for missing the big picture. That gives them 18/30 (60%). Fail.

Jason Holder

Now looking at the team itself, let’s begin with the skipper. In the very first game, he bowled very well, picking up 6-42 and 1-49 from about 42 overs of bowling. While he never made many with the bat, his unbeaten knock to help West Indies over the line looked assured. His captaincy was also spot on, changing his bowlers around to good effect. In the second Test, Holder’s decision to field first was a good one, even if England got off to a romping start with the bat. In the field, I can’t fault his captaincy too much, though he did drop a perfectly good opportunity at second slip off Shannon Gabriel. A note here though, Dom Bess made 31 in that first innings and Stuart Broad, 11 not out, You would have thought the West Indies would have been trying to work out how to bowl to the lower-order batsmen, who had shown they can bat. In the third Test it was apparent the skipper hadn’t thought about it and to win a Test match, 20 wickets have to be taken. Holder also had his bowlers try too many things at the lower order, rather than bowl the same way they bowled to the top order. In the second innings, Holder also went back to the idea of being too defensive once batsmen get on top of the bowling, rather than trying to counter-attack. That allowed England to score 129 in just 19 overs. Holder’s personal performances in that second Test were poor as well. Though he did score 35 in the second innings. For that second Test, Holder gets four out of 10. He would probably get five for the third Test because he scored 46 in the first innings. So adding it all up, Holder gets 9/10 for the first Test, 4/10 for the second, and 5/10 for the third. He, therefore, ends up with 18/30 (60%). Like the selectors, Fail.

Kraigg Brathwaite

Kraigg Brathwaite started well in Southampton, scoring 65 in the first innings. But that’s half the job. He scored just four in the second innings, but his contribution to the victory was significant, I would give him 8/10 even though he failed to make England pay by scoring a century. In the second Test, again he started well, scoring 75 before coughing a very soft caught & bowled for Ben Stokes. This time, in a losing effort, his inability to get to a hundred counts more against him than in the first innings of the first Test. Given he only managed 12 in the second innings, making the same mistake of getting trapped on the crease from good length deliveries, he gets 6/10. In the third Test, Brathwaite with one and 19, was a disaster, so he gets 4/10. That four comes because I cannot fault his attitude to trying to stay at the crease. Brathwaite, despite too half-centuries, has scores of 8/10, 6/10, and 4/10. That also gives him 18/30 (60%). Fail.

John Campbell

John Campbell’s highest score for the series was 32. He had a dismal series despite looking the part in a number of innings. He played some handsome drives and made it clear he was willing to push back at the English and so he gets some points for that. His string of low scores seems to have affected his normally exquisite fielding as well and he is guilty of a number of misfields and at least one very costly dropped catch in the second Test. Campbell scores 3/10 in each Test. 9/30 (30%). Fail.

Shai Hope

Shai Hope’s form in Test cricket has been abysmal and it is strange that it is so because he seems confident at the crease and shows signs of having every bit of class everybody touts him as having. Hope got a couple of starts but must be chastised for his final innings where on 31, he tried to pull a Chris Woakes delivery that wasn’t short enough and only ended up skying it. The dismissal was inexcusable, especially with the West Indies attempting to try to save a Test match.

Hope gets 3/10 for each of the first two Tests but 2/10 for the third even though he had his highest score in the second innings of that game. 8/30 (26.6%). Fail

Shamarh Brooks

Shamarh Brooks looked the best of the top-order batsmen in the West Indies line-up and had scores of 39 and 0 in the first Test, 68 and 62 in the second, and 4 and 22 in the third. For the first Test, Brooks, who is trying to get the selectors to keep faith with him after his troubles with breaking into the starting XI for years. His first innings of 39 was admirable but the trend of getting starts without continuing on was born there. Despite two half-centuries in the second Test, his failure to continue when set, may just have cost the team the Wisden Trophy. Truth is though, Brooks has not given his wicket away, and has suffered because of technical flaws. His intent and his willingness to bat and bat long seem to be where it should be. He gets 4/10 for the first Test, 7/10 for the second, and 3/10 for the third. In that third Test, his failure in the first innings came because his bat was not coming straight down in line with the ball. The extravagant movement from gully of his blade also proved his undoing in the second innings and may show a tendency not to be able to adapt. Brooks scores 14/30 (46.6%). A good effort, I believe, but a failure nonetheless. Fail

Roston Chase

Roston Chase was probably playing against his favourite opposition and was a threat throughout the Test series with bat and ball. Unfortunately, much of the promise he showed in the first Test and through the first innings of the second, never resulted in more than a threat. In the first Test, with bat he scored 47 and 37, while taking 2-71 in the second innings. In the second he returned from 5-172 in 44 overs to score 51. In the third Test, sharing the ball with Rahkeem Cornwall, he was only allowed 11 overs, from which he had 2-36, and scored nine. He was run out for seven in the second innings after his 1-69 from 14 overs.

For the first Test I score Chase at 5/10, in the second he scores 7/10, and in the third, probably through no fault of his own, he only gets 4/10. 16/30 (50%). Fail.

Jermaine Blackwood

Jermaine Blackwood has always had the talent to play at this level but would his attitude to batsmanship ever let him? Blackwood showed signs he was willing to fight for, not just his place in the West Indies team, but for wins on behalf of his team as well. Blackwood scored 95 in the second innings of the first Test that proved a match-winning knock, and despite his rogue effort in the first innings, he gets 7/10 for his return to the highest level of cricket. In the second Test, Blackwood again failed to do well in the first innings after he was bowled by a ball that never got off the ground. In the second innings, he again showed his resilience, scoring 55, but his susceptibility to the short ball proved his undoing. For that Test, I give the diminutive Jamaican 6/10. In the third Test, Blackwood was again bowled, this time through the gate, before being last man out after failing to get enough bat on a leg-side short ball for 23. That was his only failure but he showed more fight in that 23 than the rest of the team, which looked out of gas. I would give him 5/10 for the last Test despite two low scores. Blackwood scored 18/30 (60%). Good effort, but ultimately he also failed.

Shane Dowrich

He started with a bang but ended with a whimper. Shane Dowrich looked a confident batsman when he scored a fighting 61 in the first innings of the first Test, but it was all downhill from there. He made a pair in the second Test but this was after the swinging ball had made a mockery of his wicketkeeping. Dowrich’s trouble with the bat stems from his inability to play the short ball and his awareness that his opposition will target this. The results were not dissimilar to those of more accomplished batsmen. Going lbw after playing back to deliveries he should be on the front foot to.

Dowrich gets 6/10 for a brilliant catch in the first innings of the first Test as well as his half-century, but thereafter, he gets 3/10. Dowrich’s grade is 9/30 (30%). Fail

Kemar Roach

Kemar Roach started the series with a  wicketless performance in the first Test but it could never be considered a failure as he bowled consistently well and had batsmen beaten all ends up on numerous occasions without a breakthrough. The breaks came in the second and third Tests but Roach was consistently good, climbing to 201 wickets along the way, ending with eight for the series. Roach gets 5/10 for the first Test because he was still inexpensive though wicketless, 6/10 for the second, and in the third where he had 4-72 in the first innings before his 0-34 as England only lost three wickets, he gets another 6. Kemar Holder scores 17/30 (56.6%). Fail

Shannon Gabriel

Shannon Gabriel has proven himself a warrior. Coming back from a serious ankle injury and months upon month without cricket, he soldiered through three Tests with very little turnaround time. On occasion, he looked like he wouldn’t make it, but in truth, every spell was aggressive and at high pace for the duration of the Tests. He was man-of-the-match in the first Test and was very unlucky in the second save for a poor opening spell where he looked stiff. There was much said about his injury problems and frequent exits from the field but when it came time to bowl, he was ready every time the captain called on him. He would end up with 11 wickets in the series to lead the West Indies although nine of those wickets came in the first Test where he took 4-62 and 5-75. For his performance in the first Test Gabriel gets 10/10 for me, but he was unfortunate to have a number of catches dropped off his bowling in the second Test where he had figures of 0/79 and 0/43. However, Gabriel did have a couple of failures where he bowled no-balls and wides and for that, he fails with a 4-10. In the final Test, Gabriel provided good support to Roach but again his problems with no balls were present. His 2/77 and 0/19, in that Test were ineffective and whenever he was ineffective, so was the West Indies. Again he gets 4/10. Gabriel gets 18/30 (60%). A courageous Fail

Alzarri Joseph

Alzarri Joseph is a better bowler than the one who debuted for the West Indies in 2016. He isn’t bowling as quickly but his accuracy and the way he has tried to think his way to wickets has improved. Joseph was unfortunate to have been dropped for the third Test, so he gets graded out of 20. In the first game, he had figures of 0/53 and 2/45. He also contributed 18 with the bat. He did not bowl badly and his fight with the bat gave him some points. I give him 5/10 for the effort. In the second Test, Joseph was the West Indies’ best bowler in the first innings, though his 1/70 was not a match-winning performance. He had figures of 0-14 in the second innings. But Joseph was also an adequate night watchman when the West Indies first bat in that second Test as well, scoring 32. Again, for his all-round effort, Joseph gets 5/10. His score of 10/20 gives him 50%, again another fail, but again he cannot be faulted.

Rahkeem Cornwall

Rahkeem Cornwall is the only other player to break into the West Indies XI after the first Test. He played in the final Test in place of Alzarri Joseph but had a torrid time of bowling, going wicketless throughout the Test, with figures of 0/85 in the first innings and 0/79 in the second. With the bat he was deplorable, scoring 10 and two in an altogether forgettable outing. Cornwall scores 2/10 (20%). Fail

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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