Bangladesh’s victory in the recently concluded 1st test only serves to amplify the fact that West Indies cricket has been greatly weakened by external matters. Though playing a makeshift West Indian side, Bangladesh can only play whoever they are pitted against and in this instance they refused to be diverted from the cricket and exploited their opportunities.
Taking nothing away from Bangladesh, who fully deserved their win , the questions that must be asked should be directed towards the administration. The reasons for this loss are just as much, if not more, of their making than that of the players.
There is undoubtedly a large amount of talent in the team, perhaps enough to comprise the majority of a future first string West Indian team. But the emphasis lies on the fact that they are future potential and playing them all at once may serve to stunt their development. It is possible that some players may immediately make the jump from first-class to Test level and the selectors would then be justified in their selection.
What of the players who are able to instantly bridge this gap? With any successful team, regardless of the sport, a mix of experience and youth is necessary. Some young players need the guidance of those who have been there before to enable them to reach their full potential. In the ongoing Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Fawad Alam stated that his belief that he could get a debut hundred batting in an unfamiliar role as an opener was largely due to his captain’s belief in him. Pakistan may be going through one of the most uncertain times in their team’s history but they are proving that whatever the situation, the mentorship system still holds.
This result should spur the recommencing of talks between WIPA and the WICB. If it does not do so, then it follows that the results of the West Indies team are not the most matter to either party. The WICB has stated that the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in September will be selected from the players available for the Bangladesh series. Making such a statement so early could be a ploy to put pressure on WIPA but it also seems that WICB have lost confidence in resolving the issues before September.
There are positives to be taken from this match, especially in the bowling department and there are some players who have made a case for selection even when the first-team players return. Darren Sammy bowled well throughout the match and was rewarded with a five wicket haul and also batted well in the first innings. Dave Bernard scored fifty in both innings and managed to withstand all the Bangladesh bowlers had to offer in the second innings only to run out of partners at the end.
Supposing that the contractual issues are resolved and the first-string players return to the team, then what becomes of the second-string players who performed? It would be cruel to discard players who seized the opportunity they were offered and in fact such players are exactly what the West Indies need. The other side of this point though is that players who were slated to make their debut in this series may lose the chance.
Omar Phillips batted responsibly while scoring 94 in this, his debut match, as an opener. Considering the lack of performances opening batsmen in recent times he may have made a case for further selection. However if he is picked, then there may not be room for Adrian Bharath in the team. Since Bharath was almost certain to play in the 1st Test before the dispute, it would be unfair to drop him without a chance to show what he is capable of. The same dilemma is presented by the bowling of Kemar Roach. His performances showed that he is a capable and effective Test bowler but his inclusion would probably mean the exclusion of Ravi Rampaul. Somehow the selectors will have to find a sensible solution.
For all the positives shown, the negatives still heavily outweigh them. The team obviously shows a lack of experience and the batting has been irresponsible, especially in the second innings and paradoxically by the most experienced players. Travis Dowlin and Floyd Reifer fell to obvious traps set by the Bangladesh spinners, while Dale Richards will possibly never come up with an explanation that could make sense of his dismissal. If Bangladesh are able to realize and exploit these flaws, the stronger cricket teams are sure to do so also.
While the West Indies bowled economically in the first innings, a lot of the dismissals had to do with the lack of concentration showed by the Bangladesh batsmen. The bowling looked uninspired during the majority of the 2nd innings and it was a familiar Bangladesh collapse that was responsible for the wickets.
What really needs to be instilled in the team is a mindset of optimum performance. If they are playing with the belief that they are just ‘warming the seat’, so to speak, then their performances will reflect that. The team needs to have the self belief that they are Test class players and they have every right to be here, otherwise doubt will severely limit their performance. The off-field matters should be ignored and they should concern themselves only with playing cricket and winning the next match.
Bangladesh’s tour of the Caribbean was never one to get the pulses racing and the interest has waned even more now due to the dispute between WIPA and WICB. Whether we like it not though, this is a Test series and the results go down in black and white. Irrespective of by whatever circumstances the players are chosen, they do constitute the West Indies team. And perhaps the fans should remember that as taxing as it is to do sometimes ,in the end we support the West Indies team.