“[…] For West Indies cricket fans, an ODI series defeat to Ireland, following immediately as it would be on the team’s ignominious loss of the T20 series in Pakistan, would be incomprehensible. Even more so because the Pakistan series loss was preceded by the WI’s most embarrassing and highly forgettable performances in the ICC T20 World Cup just a month before.
“[…] The T20 series against England should also provide the Sir Desmond Haynes-Ramnaresh Sarwan selection panel with decisive answers to the more immediate question as to whether it should indeed be Kieron Pollard who remains at the helm for the WI’s attempts to qualify for and eventually participate in this year’s T20 World Cup…”
Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt and veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira consider potential cracks in the CWI board and inadequacies in the West Indies team:
The West Indies Men’s Senior team in danger of losing a three-match ODI series to Ireland. The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Executive Board in apparent disarray.
These rather unpleasant developments punctuated West Indies cricket’s second week of the new year 2022. In our very first article for 2022, we had already had sufficient reason to describe the new year as ‘interesting’.
Having made the much heralded announcements of Desmond Haynes and Ramnaresh Sarwan as their new selection panel members, the Ricky Skerritt-led CWI would have been hoping for Kieron Pollard’s team to provide those very qualified gentlemen with a most comfortable introduction to their duties in the form of a resounding ODI series victory against Ireland.
The series had initially been scheduled to be played from 8-14 January at Sabina Park in Jamaica. However, immediately after the conclusion of the first game on 8 January, some members of the Ireland squad tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, the second and third matches had to be rescheduled to 13 and 16 January, so that the one-off T20 International between the teams scheduled for 16 January had to be cancelled altogether.
Far from cruising to the comfortable series victory Ricky Skerritt’s CWI would have been hoping for, the West Indies were lucky to scrape home to a 24-run victory in the 8 January first ODI. They were then resoundingly beaten in the second.
In both the first and second ODIs, the West Indies’ top-order batting can only be described as deplorable. They posted 279 off their 50 overs in the first ODI and fared even worse in the second, managing to reach just 230.
Had Ireland not faltered badly in the last 12 overs of their response in the first ODI, the result could well have been the same as that of the second, a very comfortable victory for the visitors. From a relatively comfortable position of 173 for 3 after 37.3 overs, the remaining seven Ireland wickets fell for just an additional 72 runs to leave them 24 short of the victory target.
The 230 total WI posted in the second ODI proved to be even more inadequate than the 270 posted in the first. Ireland’s very comfortable overhauling of that target was never in doubt, even before the benevolent intervention of the rain. The eventual five-wicket victory margin was a very accurate reflection of the visitors’ superiority over their hosts in both batting and bowling.
The inability of the WI batting to reach anywhere close to the 300-plus totals which have long since become the par score for 50-overs matches will be a major concern for selectors Haynes and Sarwan. So too will the continuing alarmingly high numbers of dot balls faced, of which there were 180 in the second ODI!
On the evidence provided by the first two matches, heading into Sunday’s third and deciding ODI, Ireland’s chances of winning both the match and the overall series seem to be as good as their hosts’.
For West Indies cricket fans, such a defeat, following immediately as it would be on the team’s ignominious loss of the T20 series in Pakistan, would be incomprehensible. Even more so because the Pakistan series loss was preceded by the WI most embarrassing and highly forgettable performances in the ICC T20 World Cup just a month before.
Should such a previously unthinkable event as WI losing an ODI Series to Ireland occur, attention would then surely be focused on Haynes and Sarwan in terms of their choices for the team’s next scheduled ODI encounter. That comes up in just a month’s time and will be against the far more formidable India in their own backyard.
The squad for the home T20 Series against England which precedes the India tour having already been selected, Haynes and Sarwan’s roles will be restricted to those of keenly interested observers. One specific area for their highly focused observation should be Pollard’s captaincy.
Despite his match-saving innings of 69 in the first ODI against Ireland, questions still abound as to his continued suitability as captain for next year’s ICC ODI World Cup to be hosted in India.
The T20 series against England should also provide the Haynes-Sarwan selection panel with decisive answers to the more immediate question as to whether it should indeed be Pollard who remains at the helm for the WI’s attempts to qualify for and eventually participate in this year’s T20 World Cup being hosted by Australia.
Despite losing the Pakistan T20 series, Nicholas Pooran’s demonstrated leadership was sufficiently suggestive of his being a more viable captaincy option than Pollard.
The eventual result of the Ireland ODI series along with the result of the five T20 matches against England should also provide telling answers as to the continued suitability of the Phil Simmons coaching cadre. Under their collective direction, the WI performance as regards even the most rudimentary requirements of effective white ball cricket has been clearly far from satisfactory.
Simmons’ appointment as head coach has recently been described by Barbados’ CWI Director Calvin Hope as the immediate outcome of one of the very worst decisions ever made by CWI. That decision is the Skerritt-led administration’s chosen action to not renew the head coach contract of England-born Richard Pybus.
Hope’s public outburst outlining the many inadequacies of the Ricky Skerritt-led CWI is just one more indication of the apparently growing disharmony between the beleaguered President and other members of the Executive Board.
There were reports of Skerritt wanting to offer the now discarded selection panel members Roger Harper and Miles Bascombe a two-year extension to their contracts, which were initially scheduled to have ended last October. Those contracts were eventually extended for just two months before the Board made its final decision that they would not be renewed.
Skerritt has reportedly also come under fire for his hurried presentation of Haynes and Sarwan’s names as the replacements for Harper and Bascombe. At least three board members are reported to have abstained during voting to approve the appointments. This was not as an objection to the candidacies but rather a show of disapproval of the hurried manner in which they had been presented.
Just midway through the first month of the new year and already an unexpected ODI series struggle against lowly ranked Ireland, reports of a divided CWI Board and continuing questions surrounding captaincy and coaching.
West Indies cricket’s 2022 has indeed gotten off to a most interesting, not to say ignominious start!