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‘Reds’ and McWatt: ‘Pure, unadulterated rubbish?’ We beg to differ, Mr Best!

The following is a response from veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira and Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt to columnist Earl Best’s criticism of their 2021 T20 Cricket World Cup post-mortem:

Wired868’s renowned writer Earl Best has recently, publicly, described the suggestions contained in our Tony-Reds articles of 7 and 15 November articles as ‘pure unadulterated rubbish’! 

Photo: Wired868 columnist and editor Earl Best is a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and Express newspapers and a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

While we acknowledge Mr Best’s entitlement to have and voice his own opinions as he so chooses, his description of the said articles is sufficiently unfair and inaccurate as to now warrant our immediate, defensive, response. 

Mr Best has described the articles’ recommendations for the removal of the Roger Harper-led selection panel, head coach Phil Simmons and his entire coaching staff, and Kieron Pollard as the West Indies white-ball captain as well, as having been devoid of the provision of sufficient ‘why’ reasons for such ‘draconian measures’!

In doing so, in terms of the former, he has conveniently ignored the 7 November article’s indication as follows:

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‘[…] Prior to the World Cup’s commencement, West Indies selection chairman Roger Harper had expressed his belief that his panel’s chosen 15 member squad was good enough to successfully defend its title as reigning World Cup champions. 

‘The actual results have now, however, clearly demonstrated the absolute lunacy of Harper’s thinking. As such, Harper and his panel should be made to answer for some of its highly controversial choices!’

Photo: West Indies chief selector Roger Harper.

The 7 November article also provided solid reasons for our recommendations for the removal of Simmons, his coaches cadre, and Pollard as the West Indies white-ball captain: 

‘[…] The West Indies coaching staff and captain must also be made to answer for some of the other bizarre selection and tactical decisions that were made during the actual World Cup. A further example of which was the absolute non-selection of the West Indies lone out and out pacer Oshane Thomas for any of the matches. 

‘This despite Harper’s claim that Thomas’ inclusion in the squad had been made on the basis of his ability to provide x-factor raw pace. Former West Indies T20 Captain Daren Sammy’s observation, while on TV commentary, that the West Indies bowling was too defensive-oriented and lacking in attacking options also made Thomas’ continued omission all the more questionable!

‘Sammy’s comment also brought into question the West Indies’ actual use of the squad’s leg spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. Chosen for his wicket-taking abilities, Walsh only played in two of the West Indies five matches—a stark contrast to the other participating teams’ routine use of their top leg-spinner. Walsh’s World Cup returns were 0/44 from 5 overs bowled, at an economy rate of 8.88…’

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) and pacer Ravi Rampaul exchange ideas during 2021 T20 World Cup action.

Again contrary to Mr Best’s suggestion that our calls for the immediate joint removal of Pollard as captain and the Simmons-led coaches cadre were devoid of justification, the 15 November article provided further solid reasons for doing so:

‘[…] Pollard’s unsatisfactory results, both as a player and as captain, fully justify his immediate replacement. Pollard has scored 1,468 runs at an average of 24.46 per innings in his 93 T20 International West Indies appearances. His West Indies ODI stats are 2,633 runs scored at a 26.99 average from 119 matches. 

‘Pollard’s record to date as West Indies T20 captain is 10 wins, 15 losses and five no results in 30 matches. His ODI captaincy stats are 10 wins and six losses. 

‘Seven of Pollard’s 10 T20 wins as captain have, however, come against low-ranked teams such as Afghanistan, Ireland, and Sri Lanka. Much the same can also be said for his ODI captaincy wins—only two of which have been against top-ranked teams.  

‘The win-loss results of the Phil Simmons-led coaching staff also suggest they should be immediately replaced. Of the 36 T20 International matches played since Simmons’ October 2019 reinstatement as head coach, West Indies won 14 and lost 17 while five ended as no results! 

Photo: West Indies coach Phil Simmons (left) and veteran pacer Fidel Edwards.
(via CWI Media)

‘Simmon’s ODI record as head coach during the same period is four wins and two losses from six matches played. Not unlike Pollard, the majority of Simmons’ wins in both T20’s and ODI have come against low-ranked teams, while the losses were against teams within the top five of the ICC’s rankings…’

While we would accept Mr Best’s criticisms that our recommended choices of Nicholas Pooran as Pollard’s replacement as white-ball captain, and of Shimron Hetmyer as the team’s vice-captain, were both insufficiently justified. As a seasoned writer, he should be aware, however, that the limited space constraints often dictate that the obvious is not stated. 

Pooran’s worthiness for promotion from vice-captain to captain has by now been well established. Whereas the inconsistencies of Hetmyer’s recorded scores to date might call to question his suitability for the vice-captaincy, the unmentioned flip side of that coin is that the added responsibility of such a position could very well also prove to be the catalyst for his demonstration of the associated and required maturity and stability—the absence of which has to date thwarted the realisation of his obvious to all potential.

Photo: West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer hits out during T20 action against New Zealand at Bay Oval in Tauranga on 29 November 2020.
(Copyright Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Perhaps his consideration of the foregoing will now give Mr Best cause to reflect on the unfairness and inaccuracy of his descriptions of the collective recommendations contained in our 7 and 15 November articles. 

Having known Tony Cozier personally, as well as we both have, we would also suggest that rather than turning in his grave, his reading of the articles would have instead given him cause to smile at both their accuracy and necessity! 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the original column from Earl Best.

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  1. After all the ‘analysis’ and toing and froing by these ‘experts’ my untrained view is that West Indies cricket is in deep trouble. Three main ingredients (to me) seem to be lacking on the part of both players and the administration/coaches/support team. These are Skills, heart and brains and these are not mutually exclusive to any of these groups.