If this West Indies team has no fight, it has nothing

By Donald Oliver July 30, 2020
England's Jos Buttler, left, prepares to take the catch to dismiss West Indies' Kemar Roach, center, during the third day of the third cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, July 26, 2020. England's Jos Buttler, left, prepares to take the catch to dismiss West Indies' Kemar Roach, center, during the third day of the third cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, July 26, 2020. Ap Photo/Michael Steele

Last week I wrote Test Cricket wasn’t in the DNA of this West Indies Cricket team. Since that article the team offered up yet another insipid display to lose the three-match Test series against England 2-1 and the Wisden Trophy forever.

 And of course, the typical excuses have come from all quarters. “These were difficult conditions to play in”, because Test cricket usually is like a game of Pictionary I presume. “Decisions didn’t go our way”, “luck wasn’t on our side” were some of the other gems passed around. And of course there was the obligatory “taking the positives” statement which comes with every post mortem of a series.

And frankly I’m tired of all of it.

I was a supporter of West Indies cricket long before I became a journalist 17 years ago, and I’ve heard these excuses before. And back then we actually had superstars like Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in the team.

Now, we were told, we have a group of guys that will fight and show grit, even though the talent isn’t quite there. But the DNA results came in, and proved that that was a lie. The capitulation I saw was typical of the Caribbean team of recent years gone by. And frankly, if this team doesn’t have fight and fortitude, it has nothing.

Before the start of the series, there was a point of view that if the players were acclimatized in these conditions and if their minds were solely on cricket and they had no distractions because of the fact they were in a bubble brought on by covid19 restrictions, that maybe we would see the best that West Indies had to offer.

And we were well on our way after a very good, if not convincing performance in the opening Test at Headingley. But it all went downhill after that. And yes, of course, we had our moments in the game, but every Test playing team has their moments, so that shouldn’t be the standard.

Last week I pointedly stated that our batsmen were more likely to win a T20 game than a Test match, citing the different approaches required for victory. We had a day to navigate at Old Trafford on a pitch which had no terrors and we lasted 37.1 overs.

Yes, we succumbed to defeat a mere half an hour before the heavy rains returned which would have surely washed out the remainder of play. All this after day 4 was also washed out. But this is where we are again as West Indies supporters, doing rain dances under mango trees to hide the ineptitude.

 West Indies had only one century partnership in the entire series. England had four. Our best batsman Jermaine Blackwood averaged 35.16 in the series, and Shannon Gabriel took the most wickets (11) at 32.27 apiece. This is ordinary.

 And now the team is playing on the heart strings of the world. We are using our players to beg the likes of England and India to play us at home in order to help with our coffers which have taken a further hit due to the pandemic. And the reason why this appeal is necessary is because as a performing team we can’t attract the teams or the sponsors and the television demand. Where is our superstar to help fill up a stadium? At least Lara was able to break a Test record once or twice.

My friend and co-worker Ricardo Chambers disagrees with me when I say Test Cricket isn’t in the DNA of this West Indies cricket team, not that his point of view comes with any ray of hope. He believes there is little talent on the batting side of things, and has pointed to the fact there is no batting superstar in the team. And some have pointed out to me that that was the difference between the teams and not necessarily the fact our boys simply cannot play Test cricket.

However, having Test Cricket in your DNA doesn’t mean you have to be a superstar or the best in the world. It just means you have to be efficient in carrying out tasks like batting for half an hour to save a Test match. I’m hardpressed to find the characters. Because I once thought we had fight in us, at the very least.

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..

Related items

  • Ultimate XI T20 Profile: Joe Root Ultimate XI T20 Profile: Joe Root

    At first glance, Joe Root does not look like the type of batsman that makes for a successful T20 player. Obdurate in the Test arena and the solid anchor sheet in One-Day Internationals, Root doesn’t seem to have the swashbuckling, sometimes even kamikaze-like penchant for attacking bowling that the best proponents of the shortest form of the game seem to possess. But, for some reason, maybe his incredible work ethic has helped him, he has adapted.

    Root depends on deft touches and manipulations of the field to accumulate his runs, but his ability to do so is so exquisite that he could hurt a team without ever hitting a six. In fact, Root has only ever hit 16 sixes for England in 32 T20I outings. He has, however, scored five half-centuries in that period and averages above 35. The story is similar in the T20 arena where he has scored nine half-centuries in 20 games at an average of 30 and a half. His strike rate of 126 in international cricket and 125 in T20s isn’t staggering, but it does show remarkable adaptability for a man who strikes at 50 in the Test arena and just 60 in ODIs.

    Career Statistics (2011-present)

    Full name: Joseph Edward Root

    Born: December 30, 1990, Sheffield, Yorkshire (29)

    Major teams: England, England Lions, England Under-19s, Sydney Thunder, Yorkshire, Yorkshire 2nd XI, Yorkshire Academy, Yorkshire Under-17s

    Playing role: Top-order batsman

    Batting style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak, Legbreak

     

    T20I Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs    HS     Ave      BF      SR       100   50     4s      6s    

    32       30       5      893      90*   35.72    707   126.30     0      5      92      16   

    T20 Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs     HS     Ave      BF         SR         100   50    4s     6s     

    72         66    13    1619      92*   30.54    1288      125.69      0      9    180    24    

     

    Career Highlights

    • 32 T20I caps scoring 893 runs at 35.72
    • 1619 T20 runs at average of 30.54
  • Ultimate XI T20 Profile: Kane Williamson Ultimate XI T20 Profile: Kane Williamson

    The wicket of Kane Williamson is among the most prized in all of cricket, simple because he takes care of it so well. Not taking a chance against the New Zealand captain is probably the biggest mistake any opposition can make. Once Williamson is at the crease, New Zealand is likely to be a difficult prospect to beat.

    What is worse, is if Williamson has scored some runs before he plays against your team. That is problematic because he scores runs in bunches, like he did in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he donned the Orange Cap, having scored 735 runs on the season. That was the season when Williamson was first announced as captain of Sunriser’s Hyderabad, a team he led to the IPL final where they were defeated by the Chennai Super Kings. And that has been the trend with Williamson, his performances improve with mounting responsibilities.

    A stroke player, rather than a 'muscler' of the cricket ball, Williamson had to learn to play in the shortest format of the game, but he has. He was bought by Sunrisers for US$96,000 in 2015, winning the title the following year. He was one of the retained players in 2017, but by 2018, his value as a T20 batsman had soared, and it cost Sunrisers US$460,500 to keep him.  

     

    Career Statistics (2009-present)

    Full name: Kane Stuart Williamson

    Born: August 8, 1990, Tauranga (29)

    Major teams: New Zealand, Barbados Tridents, Edmonton Royals, Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire 2nd XI, New Zealand A, New Zealand Cricket XI, New Zealand Emerging Players, New Zealand Under-19s, New Zealand Under-19s, New Zealand XI, Northern Districts, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Yorkshire

    Playing role: Top-order batsman

    Batting style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

     

    T20I Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs         HS     Ave    BF         SR     100   50         4s     6s     Ct         St

    60    58    7      1665         95    32.64         1330         125.18      0         11    170   36         27    0

    T20 Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs         HS     Ave    BF         SR     100   50         4s     6s     Ct         St

    181   173   21    4593         101* 30.21         3681         124.77      1         31    430   115         71    0  

     

    Career Highlights

    • T20I caps for New Zealand (60)
    • 5th most T20I runs by a Kiwi (1665)
    • Averages 32.64 in T20Is
    • 4593 T20 runs at 30.21 average
    • IPL 2018 orange cap winner (735 runs)
  • Ultimate XI T20 Profile: MS Dhoni Ultimate XI T20 Profile: MS Dhoni

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni is arguably the greatest finisher of the modern era, possibly of all time. A very cool, very calculated middle-order batsman in both T20s and One-Day Internationals, Dhoni, has been a pioneer in the art of assessing a run chase. With incredible ability to change the pace of an innings, Dhoni’s performances and his leadership have helped him carve out a place in Indian history, winning the most of any Indian captain. On the way to that record, Dhoni also became the first captain to win all three ICC limited-overs trophies, winning the World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20 in 2013.

    But his leadership and performances at the T20 level did not stop at international cricket, as Dhoni also led the Chennai Super Kings to Indian Premier League titles in 2010, 2011 and 2018. He also won the 2010 and 2014 editions of the Champions League Twenty20 with the Super Kings.

     

    Statistics (2006-present)

    Full name: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

    Born: July 7, 1981, Ranchi, Bihar (now Jharkhand) (39)

    Major teams: India, Air India Blue, Asia XI, Bihar, Bradman XI, Chennai Super Kings, East Zone, East Zone Under-19s, Help for Heroes XI, India A, Indian Board President's XI, International XI, Jharkhand, Rajasthan Cricket Association President's XI, Rest of India, Rising Pune Supergiants, Sehwag XI

    Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

    Batting style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling style: Right-arm medium

    Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

     

    T20I Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs    HS     Ave      BF         SR        100   50       4s     6s     Ct     St

    98       85      42    1617      56    37.60    1282      126.13     0      2      116     52    57     34

    T20 Career

    Mat   Inns   NO    Runs     HS     Ave      BF         SR         100   50     4s     6s     Ct    St

    317   283      117   6621      84*   39.88     4882     135.62      0     27    451   295   170   83

     

    Career Highlights

    • 3rd most T20I runs scored by an Indian, 1617- avg. 37.60
    • 2nd most T20I caps by an Indian player (98)
    • Record for most T20 WC matches (35) and most as captain (33)
    • Captained India to 2007 T20 WC title
    • Most consecutive innings without a duck in T20s (84)
    • Most dismissals as a wicket-keeper in T20 WC history (32)
    • 6621 runs at 39.88
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.