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McWatt and ‘Reds’: What will West Indies selectors do about abysmal batting, Bravo and Roach?

“[…] Jason Holder’s miserly 65-run aggregate was, incredibly, the highest among all the West Indies batsmen [in India]. 

“The aggregates and associated averages of the West Indies top five batsmen were far more in sync with numbers that would be called at a Bingo game than with those that would be expected of supposedly top-class batsmen in a three-match tournament…”

The following guest column on the issues facing the West Indies’ ODI team was submitted to Wired868 by Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt and veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira:

Photo: West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran gets outof the way of a short-pitched delivery during T20I action against Pakistan.
(Copyright AFP)

So India have yet again comprehensively defeated the West Indies in an ODI series. This should not have come as much of a surprise to anyone as that has now been the trend for almost a decade and a half.

What would have been distasteful to all West Indies cricket fans and followers, however, were the colossal margins of defeat in each of the three matches played. India won the first match by six wickets and the second by 44 runs. India’s 96-run victory margin in the final match of the series was the widest of all three.

The West Indies’ abject failure to provide India with anything more than the meekest of opposition during the series can now be blamed almost entirely on the failure of the batting unit to register competitive scores in any of the three matches. The bowlers were also, however, guilty on occasion of serving up a fair share of boundary balls as well as bowling too many wides.

Taking first strike in the first match, the West Indies were bundled out for 176 in 43.5 overs. In the second, chasing India’s posted 237 for 9, they only managed to reach 193 all out in 46.5 overs. Their batting display in the third and final match was even more abysmal, the eventual score 169 all out in 37.1 overs.

Photo: India pacer Prasidh Krishna (left) celebrates the wicket of West Indies opening batsman Brandon King in the second ODI on 9 February 2022.
(Copyright BCCI)

A most accurate and revealing reflection of the West Indies batting inadequacies during the series was the repeated loss of early top-order wickets. In the first ODI, the West Indies lost their first five wickets for only 71 runs. In the second and third matches, the score at which the fifth wicket fell was instructively identical: 76 for 5.

As a further reflection of the inadequacies of the West Indies batting, and especially those of the top order, the three highest rankings on the series averages were those of the team’s middle/lower-order allrounders.

Odean Smith led the rankings with 6o runs from two innings at an average of 30.00. Alzarri Joseph was second with 49 runs from three outings for a 24.50 average, and Jason Holder was third with 65 from three, average 21.66

Holder’s miserly 65-run aggregate was, incredibly, the highest among all the West Indies batsmen. The aggregates and associated averages of the West Indies top five batsmen were far more in sync with numbers that would be called at a Bingo game than with those that would be expected of supposedly top-class batsmen in a three-match tournament.

Photo: West Indies allrounder Jason Holder pierces the off-side field during a recent T20I against India.
(Copyright BCCI)

In order of their respective appearances at the crease, the following are the actual series returns of the West Indies top-order batsmen. Brandon King scored 45 runs from his three innings for a 15.00 average. His opening partner Shai Hope, the West Indies highest internationally ranked ODI batsman, had even poorer returns, compiling just 40 runs from three innings for a 13.33 average.

Darren Bravo, whose inclusion in the squad had been regarded as somewhat controversial given the paucity of his recorded scores within the past four years, failed abjectly to justify the selectors’ expressed faith in his abilities. Bravo’s returns from his three innings were a most disappointing 38 runs at an average of 12.66.

Shamarh Brooks, batting at four, scored 56 runs at an average of 18.66. Stand-in skipper Nicholas Pooran, who took over the captaincy reins following yet another Kieron Pollard injury-related withdrawal, posted 61 runs from his three innings for a series average of 20.33.

As indicated, Darren Bravo’s dismal returns would have been a major disappointment to the Desmond Haynes-led West Indies selection panel.

Photo: West Indies batsman Darren Bravo (right) is congratulated by captain Kieron Pollard.

Despite all the evidence which existed to suggest that they were taking a huge gamble in doing so, Haynes and his fellow selectors had placed their faith in Bravo’s obvious batting talents to re-emerge during the series by means of his recapturing of his long lost form. His failure to do so must surely now have placed his chances for inclusion in future West Indies squads in serious doubt.

Haynes et al would also have expected far greater success from lead bowler Kemar Roach and would not have been at all pleased with the seamer’s actual series returns. Having played in all three matches, Roach only managed to capture a solitary wicket for 122 runs in 20 overs, bowled at an unimpressive economy rate of 6.10.

This after Haynes, in explaining the selection, had expressed his panel’s confidence in Roach’s capacity to transfer his well-proven abilities to capture early wickets in Tests to the much shorter ODI 50-over format matches.

The embarrassment of the West Indies performances during the series—and especially those of the top-order batsmen—will now undoubtedly give cause for head coach Phil Simmons and his support staff to come under further scrutiny.

Photo: West Indies coach Phil Simmons is at the centre of catching practice during a West Indies training session.
(Copyright AFP)

In some quarters, calls are already being made for the entire coaching cadre to be dismissed and replaced before the commencement of the England Test series.

Despite the doom and gloom effects of the India ODI series, there still were some needles-in-a-haystack positives that can be derived from the West Indies performances. Odean Smith’s ferocious lower-order hitting was suggestive of the West Indies having identified a suitable white ball cricket allrounder replacement for Andre Russell.

Joseph’s admirably quick and efficiently penetrative bowing was also extremely encouraging. As was Hayden Walsh’s wicket-taking leg-spin bowling in the one match he played.

It was a pity, especially in the light of Darren Bravo’s repeated failures, that Nkrumah Bonner wasn’t ever given a chance to play in any of the matches. That was a selection decision which made absolutely no sense and for which it will indeed be interesting to hear Simmons’ explanation.

Photo: West Indies pacer Alzarri Joseph (left) celebrates the wicket of former India captain Virat Kohli during the February 2022 ODI Series.
(Copyright BCCI)

The ODI series having now been completed, attention will turn to the forthcoming three-match T20 series between the two teams. The T20 format supposedly being the West Indies’ strongest one, one would hope that their performances during the forthcoming series will at the very least be far more competitive than was the case in the ODI matches.

Back at home, within the region itself, the 9 – 12 February first-round matches of this year’s four-day Championship will have been completed long before the India-West Indies T20 series actually commences. In that regard, Cricket West Indies is now deserving of the highest praise for its provided live televised coverage of each and every one of the regional four-day matches.

The coverage, which was started several years ago, has improved commendably with each subsequent staging of the tournament.

With the West Indies scheduled to engage England in a three-Test series, beginning in Antigua on 8 March before subsequently moving to Barbados and eventually Grenada for the second and third matches, performances during the Regional Championships could possibly open some Test selection doors as well as close others.

Photo: T&T Red Force fast bowler Anderson Phillip (right) forces Jamaica lower-order batsman Patrick Harty (left) to take evasive action during West Indies Championship action in Tarouba on 11 February 2022.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

It will, therefore, be very interesting to see what impact, if any, the performances of players during the regional four-day Championships have on the West Indies squad for the Tests when it is eventually chosen.

Much to look forward to in the weeks ahead.

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One comment

  1. Very surprised that I am not hearing the name Rovman Powell after he single-handedly won the series against England after watching from the sidelines.
    Am I missing something?