The win for Bangladesh in the 2nd ODI in Dominica secured a series win over the West Indies in the 3 match series. This therefore makes the 3rd ODI at St. Kitts in effect, a match in which the result is irrelevant. But then , how much of the entire series has been relevant? Officially, the series is recognized as an international series, all the statistics will be counted. But everyone who has seen even one match of the series will know that this series falls short of what is international standard.
Bangladesh are entering establishing new milestones every time they play a match. Their first Test series win on tour, their first ODI win and first ODI series win against the hosts have all come on this tour. Their highest successful run chase in the 50 over game was also achieved. While it is true that these victories came against a severely depleted side, it is also true that Bangladesh have played to the best of their ability. This series may be exactly what the Bangladesh team needed, in the sense that they are now able to have some confidence.
What of the West Indies though? Undoubtedly the players that are representing the squad now are proud to be there and are making wholehearted efforts. But it is just as obvious that if not for the current state of affairs the majority of these players would never have made it to the international level. The dilemma presents itself of whether we prefer the more talented players who frequently look disinterested in representing the West Indies or whether we prefer so see wholehearted but ultimately fruitless effort. The choice seems to be one with points recommending both sides but only the most naïve would expect anything other than a return to the West Indies team by the striking players.
In reality, that would be the best for the team. The current squad, for all their wholeheartedness, still needs time to develop and in the packed international calendar they will not be able to find this time. The most important thing , for the fans, would be to see the team winning. All the enthusiasm about dedication of the players and wholeheartedness takes a backseat to a win for almost all fans.
If winning is what is needed to get the fans back, then that is what all parties involved with the administration of the West Indies should be concerned with. And make no mistake about it, the team needs the fans to come back. In the last ODI in Dominica, the grounds were crowded but not packed. While in larger territories that may be less of a surprise, international cricket is always a massive affair in the smaller islands. Having a ground anything less than full to capacity is a rare occurrence and a cause for concern, especially as the Dominican government gave a public holiday so that fans could attend the game.
West Indies cricket has been on a downward spiral since the mid 1990’s but the majority of fans have still maintained a sense of pride about their team. That sense of pride seems to be evaporating with every match being played. The performances have not been good for some time now but they have never been this bad. While the West Indies were among the minnows of the international game there was still a gap between them and the last placed team. That last placed team was Bangladesh and the gap was large. Seeing the West Indies lose to Bangladesh comes as a shock to most fans. Even though it is a weakened side and no matter how much it is expected, it still comes as a shock.
People are refusing to watch the series, refusing to acknowledge the team as a West Indies team. Whether they are they are right to do so or not is a matter that cannot be easily decided. But what is certain is that if the fans do not return then West Indies cricket will suffer. At this time it seems that the only way to recover the support of the fans is to reinstate the players who have sided with WIPA. If that is what is necessary, then only when the administrators realize this and begin to seriously work towards making it a reality will any sense of optimism be able to return.