Early Bird: Pooran’s persistent profligacy, Rutherford’s diplomacy and WI’s long rope

Wednesday 12 June, 8.44pm. We are halfway through the disastrous West Indies powerplay.

Johnson Charles, inexplicably preferred to Shai Hope as opener, has promptly—entirely predictably—perished. Nicholas Pooran has come in. And departed, not uncharacteristically bidding to smash his 12th ball for six and getting only a top edge.

West Indies opener Johnson Charles was bowled by New Zealand pacer Trent Boult for a duck during T20 World Cup action at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“THEY NOT LEARNING!!!” Bobby on WhatsApp, as soon as Pooran replaces Charles.

When Devon Conway snaffled the Pooran skier, another WhatsApp friend comments thus: “Live on the edge, die off the edge. At least he is consistent, sort of…”

I share the message with Bobby.

“Don’t get me expletive started!” comes the response. “I’m trying to keep my cool.”

“Often,” I tease him, “the use of expletives merely masks a linguistic inadequacy.”

The West Indies Cricket Team prepare for action against New Zealand in an ICC T20 World Cup contest at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Meanwhile, Roston Chase, generally the soul of sanity and stability, has come in at number four. And followed Pooran’s lead, attempting unsuccessfully to hit his third ball for six and holing out to long-on.

“Expletive off!” comes Bobby’s delayed response. “I have no words to describe this expletive mindlessness.”

As I watch Chase’s rueful return to the pavilion, WhatsApppal shares a useful observation.

West Indies allrounder Roston Chase has become a fixture in the T20I team.
(Photo CWI Media)

“The question of playing a ball on its merit only arises for us after the team has lost six wickets.”

At 9.14pm, with Sherfane Rutherford exhibiting some semblance of circumspection, he returns to that comment.

“See?” he inquires. “All of a sudden, balls now have merit!”

West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford smashes a delivery into the night during T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Thursday 14 June. Wired868 carries a Vidia Ramphal story headlined, in part, ‘Rutherford on WI batting’. Nowhere does the Guyanese left-hander concede in so many words that there is a batting problem.

“We have been playing good cricket,” he asserts. “[…] So I’m not concerned…”

Reminiscent of former skipper Jason Holder, he calls nary a name. However, he indicts by indirection, implication.

West Indies captain Rovman Powell (right) leads his team off during their T20 World Cup encounter with New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“I think it was a very difficult wicket to bat on… I tried not to look too much ahead, I tried to bat time, bat singles.”

Nicky P, if you’re listening…

Friday 15 June, 5.15am et passim.

“Good morning,” Bobby greets me. “Did you read Ramphal’s story?”

West Indies coach Daren Sammy (right) congratulates team captain Rovman Powell after their thrilling winning over New Zealand at the ICC T20 World Cup in Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

He always talks about the West Indies team in the third person. ‘WI’ and ‘they’, never ‘we’. But he doesn’t fool me; the passion is still there.

Me: Every word.

Bobby: Sorry to say it again but I know I am right: whoever is making the decisions for West Indies cricket has no brains.

Me: The last time somebody said that about the West Indies T20 team, Daren Sammy’s side won the World Cup. Mark Nicholas in 2016.

West Indies captain Daren Sammy poses with the T20 World Cup trophy one day after West Indies won the event in Kolkata on 4 April 2016.
Photo: AFP Photo/ Dibyangshu Sarkar

Bobby: Well, Daren Sammy’s side ent winning no World Cup in 2024! Rutherford could say what he want about somebody always stepping up; the longest rope have a end.

Me: Evidence, bro, where’s your evidence? Or are we dealing with pure wish fulfillment?

Bobby: The evidence is right there in the story. Out of the mouth of the captain, no less. “Someone will have to play a blinder. We always want to believe in individual brilliance.”

You remember what I told you when Pooran came out?”

West Indies captain Rovman Powell gestures during his team’s T20 World Cup contest with New Zealand at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Me: “You texted ‘THEY NOT LEARNING!’”

Bobby: Meaning what?

Me: Meaning that Pooran should not have come at three.

Bobby: Was I right?

Me: Well, he didn’t survive the powerplay.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran goes after the bowling during his cameo against New Zealand in their ICC T20 World Cup contest at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Bobby: Of course not! It’s the same story over and over. I don’t know what Pooran’s instructions were but making the most of the powerplay is critical to your final score. So I never had any doubt that he was going to try to get quick runs. Against [Trent] Boult and [Tim] Southee!

Me: He does it in the IPL. Maybe not against that pair but against bowling of similar quality.

Bobby: Ah! But where does he bat in the IPL? At three?

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran on the attack during IPL action.

Me: No, down the order.

Bobby: I don’t believe a man who bats so well, well, so successfully, down the order would just keep losing it, his head and his wicket, batting at three. (Cups his hands around his lips) BUT WI KEEP PUTTING HIM THERE!

Me: Lemme get this straight: you think the problem is where he bats, not how he bats?

Bobby: How he’s batting is the direct cause of his demise, yes. But his approach is influenced by where he bats. WI only vary from a formula once the entire barn has bolted so they will play him down the order again next match.

New Zealand pacer Tim Southee prepares to unleash a delivery during T20 World Cup action against West Indies at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868
[Desmond] Haynes and Sammy cyar see beyond deh own parochial noses! If deh cyar see that Johnson Charles have no place in the top flight—not the top order, eh!—what will they see?

They don’t think nutten through!

They cyar see that you can use one of the lower-order bats in the powerplay and save your top bat for where he can best help the team. When [Kieron] Pollard led them at the T20 World Cup, somebody gave good advice on Wired. WI should consider using [Akeal] Hosein, he said, higher up to minimize dot balls and thus saving a power-hitter or two for the finish.

West Indies batters Sherfane Rutherford (left) and Gudakesh Motie have a word during T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Me: And you’re saying that power-hitter Pooran can best help the team not in the powerplay with only two men outside the circle but later? With more men outside?

Bobby: I’m not alone. Rutherford too diplomatic to say it in words but I think he’s saying—with his bat not with his words—that we have to bat properly. Sensibly. Pooran clearly can’t.

Me: Frankly, I think Pooran is polluting the team with that ‘West Indies are a six-hitting team’ rubbish that he can’t get out of his head.

A West Indies supporter cheers a big shot during their ICC T20 World Cup clash with New Zealand in Tarouba, Trinidad on 8 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Bobby: He can’t get out of his head? What dyou think Powell means when he talks about ‘blinders’ and ‘individual brilliance’? Same expletive shit. After 10 years, they still dreaming, still what you call it? Romanticizing expletive Carlos Brathwaite. They still don’t realise, they still don’t expletive accept that that expletive rope doesn’t go any further than the expletive Eden Gardens stand in Kolkata.

Me: Well, Dwayne Bravo knows better so we might get a rude awakening from Afghanistan Monday evening. But if we somehow make a brilliant escape, that might give we enough rope to hang somebody Union Jack Wednesday.

More from Wired868
Early Bird: Looking back at T20WC24; where will Pooran be for 2026 tournament?

There can be no doubt that eventual winners India deserved to have the lion’s share of the places on the Read more

T20WC24: Kohli, Suryakumar, Proteas give inspired India 2nd T20 title

They choked! Again! At the last hurdle, just the wrong time! At just the right time, struggling star batsman Virat Read more

Vaneisa: T20WC24 thrills, revived WI interests—but Big Three concerns linger

Both of the semi-final matches in this T20 World Cup were demolitions. The match between Afghanistan and South Africa was Read more

T20WC24: India avenge 2022 England defeat; set up final clash of unbeaten teams

A measured third-wicket partnership of 73 between skipper Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav put India in the driver’s seat in Read more

T20WC24: Shamsi, Jansen demolish Afghanistan; South Africa coast into first final

Riding high after qualifying for their first ever World Cup semi-final, Afghanistan were yesterday brought very low—56 all out—by South Read more

Early Bird: Do Haynes and Sammy really think Charles is a better batsman than Hope?

Bobby did not know that Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka would fall at the first hurdle. But he knew Read more

Check Also

Early Bird: Looking back at T20WC24; where will Pooran be for 2026 tournament?

There can be no doubt that eventual winners India deserved to have the lion’s share …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.