CHENNAI : From the three Ws — Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell — to the likes of Chris Gayle and current T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite, West Indies’ players have had a steady fan following in Chennai.What drew legions of fans to watch the Caribbean cricketers in action was their attacking brand of cricket, which has entertainment value. But at the moment, with their third T20I set to be played here on Sunday, the visitors cut a sorry figure.
Coach Stuart Law (in pic) was naturally disappointed with his team’s show.
“West Indies cricket is not about lack of talent. The skill level is always there. It’s about applying that skill, and making the right decisions under pressure in the middle of the game. It’s a tough place to learn, there in the middle,” he’d remarked after they’d lost the second T20I in Lucknow, and the series to India.
Law insisted that his team will play for pride in the last clash. “It’s a young team and they are learning on the job. It is tough to learn in this environment, against one of the best teams in the world.“They are full of potential. Now it’s up to them as to whether they really want to work hard or not, play really good cricket, and listen to the coaching staff and senior players. They need to keep developing their game every time.”
Former India spinner and selector Venkatapathy Raju believes that West Indies’ problem is far from over and they need a good environment for their game to thrive.“If you want to excel in international cricket, your best team must play. Unfortunately their board and players are at loggerheads often, and the team misses the services of key players. The board and players must be on the same page and create an environment for the game and players to thrive.”
Another problem that former West Indies captain Carl Hooper pointed out was that some senior players preferred playing in various T20 leagues rather than turning out for the country. “That is a problem that not only West Indies faces, but also other cricketing nations. Youngsters should not get carried away by T20s. You have to be a good first-class cricketer in order to excel in T20s.”
Raju elaborated on that aspect further. “The quality of first-class cricket in West Indies is poor as no senior players play in it. Many of the players who are currently in India are members of their U-19 World Cup squad. International cricket is different from junior cricket and T20 leagues. That is why these youngsters have been good only in patches.”Former India spinner M Venkataramana points out that West Indies Cricket Board must arrest the dropout rate in domestic cricket.
“West Indies has lot of talent. But money is a very big factor in the minds of their youth. If they feel they can make more money in basketball or football, they go off to US or other nearby countries. So their board needs to identify and nurture talent with a concrete programme in hand for development.”
Raju believes that A tours can be a good solution for improving the quality of cricket in West Indies.
“You see, India themselves are sending some of their Test stars with the A team to New Zealand in order to prepare for the tour of Australia. West Indies’ board must ensure that they arrange a lot of A tours for their players. That will help in improving the overall quality of the game in their country.”