Earl Best discusses the new skipper’s support after the five-match New Zealand series
And so, it is over. I refer, of course, both to the New Zealand versus the West Indies series which sought in vain to divert our attention from Brazil and to the 2014 World Cup that was taking place there.
Germany’s supporters are exultant, Argentina’s are rueful and Brazil’s are embarrassed – and likely to be for some time to come. But according to one “live” commentator, the New Zealanders, who are now on their way home with a 2-1 Test series win in one pocket and a T20 1-1 tie in the other, are “happy with the results they have achieved on this tour.”
Immediately after the second T20 game, which the West Indians won by a healthy 37-run margin, the same commentator expressed the view that the “West Indies end it on a high. They lost the Test series under the new leadership but find a way back in the T20s under their old leader.”
Can we accurately say, then, that the sniping has begun?
I think not. I feel certain that, the ESPNcricinfo conclusion implied no deliberate comparison between the captains of the two squads, no suggestion that the one has performed better or worse than the other. With the neutrals, it’s not true that every chink in the armour will be converted into a hole large enough for a temporarily errant or underperforming player to be put out to pasture or for a fledgling career to slip into decline through it.
But what of the home scene? What are the West Indians saying about the outcome of the five-match contest in which they went under to the Kiwis in the five-day match-up and were held to a tie in the shorter format?
And perhaps more to the point, how does the West Indian fan-in-the-street feel? And the analysts in their armchairs?
My sense is that it depends on whether they live in St George’s, St John’s, St Clair, Soufrière, Springland, Speightstown or Spanish Town.
While the World Cup battles between Europe and South America were still sorting themselves out, we saw little evidence of it. But eyes will now turn back to cricket as the region awaits the arrival of Bangladesh in August/September. And as we amuse ourselves temporarily with the 2014 edition of the CPL, the retroactive examination of the New Zealand series will begin.
Already, WI Test captain Denesh Ramdin has led his Guyana Amazons from the front, lashing a half-century in Grenada to set up a two-wicket win over the Antigua Hawksbills. One day later, T20 captain Darren Sammy contributed 29 to a seemingly challenging 161, which proved wholly inadequate in the face of a boundary-studded century from ex-skipper Chris Gayle. And ODI captain Dwayne Bravo (2/17) was at the centre of his Red Steel’s, no, his Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel’s seven-wicket win over the Barbados Tridents.
There will, I feel certain, be observation and comment aplenty to come over the next few weeks as we focus on the CPL action and attempt to decide what to expect in the two Tests and four short-format games against the minnows from the subcontinent.
We shall go back to Tony Cozier’s match report on the final day of the Third Test in Barbados which pointed to questionable tactics by newly appointed skipper. Ramdin. And we shall remark that the reports on the T20s, the product of some non-Cozier computer, pointed no fingers at the demoted Sammy, suggesting indeed that WI were beaten in Game I not so much by the Kiwis as by the weather.
Much will be made of the fact that, batting down the order in the two T20 games, Ramdin faced a mere three balls, made one and two not out and featured in no dismissals except a single run-out in the second match. In a word, the Test skipper contributed precious little to the team’s performance.
Sammy, in contrast, it will be recalled, captured three New Zealand scalps (including a catch off his own bowling) in the rain-hit first match and made ten in each innings off four and three balls respectively. In addition, it was his quick, accurate underarm return to Ramdin which found BJ Watling short of his ground in the Sunday game. On Sunday too, the skipper made another important contribution, taking a “superb” diving catch down on the long-on boundary to account for Corey Anderson.
Those with long memories – and, arguably, short agendas – may remind us how the “live” cricinfo commentary described the dismissal:
Cottrell to Anderson, OUT, superb catch! Sammy, the rubber man, is too good in the outfield. Anderson drives it towards the long-on boundary but Sammy covers a lot of ground to his right and dives to complete the catch. He makes it look simple.
So, will run the inevitable conclusion, the deposed Test captain led from the front. Thus, the disconcerting truth for Ramdin’s supporters – as distinct from West Indies supporters – is that, in the battle to settle the final pecking order, round one certainly went Sammy’s way.
The fans in Chaguanas and Couva may pretend not to have noticed; we’d be lucky if the fanatics elsewhere in the Caribbean also do.
Before we go too far in that direction, therefore, here is a little experiment designed to obliterate Germany, Argentina, Netherlands and Brazil 2014 from our minds. And set West Indian thinking and loyalties right.
Sing the following lines from David Rudder’s “Rally:”
Way Down Under a warrior falls/ Michael Holding falls in the heat of the battle./ “Michael shoulda left long time!”/ I heard an angry brother shout/ Caribbean man, that, that, that is the root of our trouble…
Now, sing it again, substituting “Trini” for “brother.”
Doesn’t affect the meter, does it? It still works.
So now ask yourself – and answer honestly – if King David had sung “Trini” instead of “brother” in the original, would you have said that he chooking fire? Would you have objected? Would you have said that the line does not ring true? Would you even have noticed?
I think that your candid responses to all four questions may help you to understand what the 1986 triple crown winner meant when he sang in the same song:
Soon we must take a side or be lost in the rubble/ In a divided world that don’t need islands no more…
I submit that the side we must all now take is the West Indies’ side, not Gayle’s or Bravo’s or Sammy’s or Ramdin’s.
Right, Rudder? “Rally…”